Layla’s story

Layla has been helped back into work with the help of the Lambeth IPS team

Layla’s story

Layla has been receiving support from the Lambeth IPS (Individual Placement and Support) team, who are a part of Thames Reach in our collaboration with the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance. 

Layla has been living in Lambeth for several years, and was referred to the IPS service in late July, with an assessment done by the team two days later. At the time of the referral, Layla was out of work and looking to get back into full-time employment. The role of IPS is to work with people who have used mental health services in the borough who want to return to employment, or enter it for the first time.

Having graduated with a degree in media, the first piece of advice from the assessment was to boost her LinkedIn profile to become more visible to recruiters. A support worker in the IPS team worked with Layla to show her how to optimise her time on the platform and make connections, which is a vital tool to being seen by recruiters online.

Layla met with her support worker every week for at least two hours, where she was helped to apply for around fifty job vacancies in the industry she has trained in, looking at jobs in film and the media, using online job boards and resources.

She eventually found a role she was particularly keen on, a production controller. A recruiter had engaged with her through LinkedIn because he liked her profile. The first intervention of working on Layla’s LinkedIn profile was very valuable and had a positive outcome of helping her back into employment.

Her support worker is providing regular support now Layla is back in work, as her mental health makes her feel distress in certain environments. The team have worked in collaboration with Layla’s psychologist to create the most considered approach, using a mental health toolkit that was given to her before she was discharged.

Layla is now enjoying her new role and the independence that has come from it, knowing that she can speak to her support worker and team at Lambeth IPS if any challenges arise.

Read more about the Lambeth IPS service and how it is supporting Lambeth residents manage mental health in the workplace.

Ivo’s story – one year on

We meet with Ivo, a year after he told his story of recovery, helped by getting his own flat after experiencing mental health issues

Ivo’s story – one year on

Last year, we shared Ivo’s story, who has seen a huge improvement in his life since moving into his own flat through Brokerage and Resettlement in Lambeth (BRiL), a collaborative project between the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance and Thames Reach, which aims to provide people living in supported or residential accommodation with a flat of their own.

As part of his ongoing journey with his mental health, Ivo received support from the Essentials Fund to help decorate his flat. Visiting him again in December 2022, it is clear how he has been able to make his flat a home, allowing his creative pursuits to flourish. As he welcomes us in, he says, “this is my studio now. This is where I paint.”

While Ivo has been painting and training in art for most of his life, it is clear that this is a therapeutic practice for him, and has contributed to his mental health recovery, as well as having his own flat.

“I’m in a good creative space at the moment. I love this flat, and I love Streatham. It’s a very good area to make connections in the community.” Making new friends and being able to talk about his interests has also been a huge benefit for Ivo, and although he moved into his flat during a lockdown in 2021, he now feels immersed in the community, including getting involved with volunteering in his spare time, and having opportunities to showcase his art locally.

“Things have really improved since I moved here. I feel back to my normal self, and I’m enjoying things slowly. I’m enjoying life now.  Having this flat has helped me feel peace of mind.”

The support Ivo is receiving from Thames Reach has recently reduced, due to his positive progress, but his support worker keeps in contact and is available if he needs advice or support. Ivo says that the combination of Thames Reach’s support, along with that of his community, has helped him gain independence and confidence.

Your donation to Thames Reach can help people gain independence and confidence, just like Ivo. Support our Essentials Fund today and make a real difference to those who need it the most.

Report launches into impact of CLaSS

Thames Reach launches report into impact of Lambeth-based Community Living and Support Service

Report launches into impact of CLaSS

Yesterday, 10 November, Thames Reach held an event to launch a new independent report into the work done by our Community Living and Support Service (CLaSS).

Written by independent researcher Frank Curran of SP Solutions, the report looks at the impact CLaSS has had since the service first launched in February 2020.

What is CLaSS

The CLaSS team is comprised of staff from Thames Reach, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM) and Lambeth council. The team works with vulnerable people within Lambeth hospitals who are facing delays in being discharged from hospital due to non-medical issues such as housing. The team also works with people in the local community to prevent them from reaching a crisis point that might lead to a hospital admission.

CLaSS operates as part of the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, a partnership between Thames Reach, SLAM, Lambeth council, Certitude and the Lambeth NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, which helps people using mental health services in the London Borough of Lambeth.

Why it is needed

Many people who get admitted to hospital, and who have support needs related issues such as housing or mental health, often remain on hospital wards long after they are medically fit for discharge. Usually, because they are unable to return to the local community. As well as being immensely difficult and distressing for the people involved, this can also prove costly for hospitals with limited resources. CLaSS attempts to address this.

The report launch

Thames Reach held a remote launch event yesterday for the report, which featured a presentation on the findings, followed by a panel discussion.

Bill Tidnam, Thames Reach Chief Executive, said: ‘We’re proud of our involvement in the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, and the work of the CLaSS team which shows what this collaboration between partners can achieve. The report looks at the success of the team and their work to support discharge, and the approach of the Alliance that recognises the contribution that the voluntary sector can make in constructively challenging professional silos in the health and social care sector.’

You can watch both parts of the event below.

ClaSS Report Launch Part One – Presentation

ClaSS Report Launch Part Two – Panel Discussion


The CLaSS Report

You can also read the CLaSS Report in full here.

What must the next Prime Minister do to help end street homelessness?

As the Conservative leadership race nears its end, our Chief Executive, Bill Tidnam, looks at what the new Prime Minister needs to do to end street homelessness

What must the next Prime Minister do to help end street homelessness?

As the Conservative leadership contest draws to a close and we find out who will be our new Prime Minister, we know that the big issues facing the next government, especially COVID recovery, the cost-of-living crisis and Brexit, all play a part in any attempts to end street homelessness. Our Chief Executive, Bill Tidnam, discusses what is needed to put an end to street homelessness.

“The last three years have seen a reduction in rough sleeping, and an improvement in the way that central and local government have worked together with organisations like Thames Reach towards the goal of ending rough sleeping.  We have also seen an increased recognition that the work of other areas, notably health and criminal justice services, are part of the problem and therefore need to be part of the solution.

Protecting recent progress

“Significantly, this has been unpinned by a Treasury settlement that has set funding plans for a three-year period, which started in April this year.  This is a relatively short time, but it has allowed us to plan and develop services that are beginning to make a real difference.  We still have a very long way to go, but we are going in the right direction.  Our first ask is that the new government protect this progress and recommit to this dedicated spending and the ambition of ending street homelessness, without which we will lose the progress that we have made.

Addressing benefit issues

“Our second ask is that the government looks again at benefits. In London, the combination of a benefits cap and local housing allowance limits mean that much of London is unaffordable to single people who are on low incomes and reliant on benefits for support, or who are not in work.  This means that people spend longer than they should in temporary accommodation and hostels, and that they are unable to find accommodation in areas that they know and where they can find work, contributing to labour shortages in industries like hospitality and construction.

Non-UK nationals

“Finally, it remains the case that around half the people sleeping on the streets of London are non-UK nationals.  We welcome the increased flexibility shown by the Home Office in working with this group, for example the relaxation of deadlines around settled status.  However, the options available to our outreach teams working with non-UK nationals are far more limited, and as a result many may remain on the streets.  Without a flexible and compassionate approach that focuses on getting people off the streets, our aspirations to end rough sleeping will remain out of reach.”


Reflections on Waterloo Project, Thames Reach’s first hostel

At the end of August, the Waterloo Project will close after over 35 years as a Thames Reach hostel. Lead worker Lorraine reflects on its successes and lessons.

Reflections on Waterloo Project, Thames Reach’s first hostel

At the end of August, the Waterloo Project will close after over 35 years as a Thames Reach hostel. The project was an innovation in provisions for people sleeping rough when it opened in the 1980s, and Thames Reach have been able to learn a great deal about the kind of support that needs to be given to make an individual’s move away from homelessness sustainable. Having worked at the project for several years, its lead worker, Lorraine, discusses its legacy.

“My name is Lorraine, I have been working at The Waterloo Project for several years as a relief worker and since January 2021 as a lead worker. I started at Thames Reach as a volunteer in 2013 and have since worked at multiple services within Thames Reach.

Psychologically-informed environment

“The Waterloo Project is a psychologically-informed environment (PIE) hostel, it has been running for over 35 years in the same building, and was the first hostel to trial and implement the PIE approach. It has been very successful as a psychologically-informed environment and as a hostel. In short PIE means we work with our residents in a holistic way, including having reflective practice for staff, to understand our residents’ backgroundand journey to better enable us to support them. The communal spaces are open and inviting for people to feel comfortable to engage with staff and psychologists, who work in the building, in various activities and to talk in.

“We work with people who have been rough sleeping in, and have a connection to, Lambeth who have complex support needs. We support them to access services for substance misuse, mental and physical health, financial support, sexual health and to motivate and encourage them to do more meaningful things with their time, to sustain positive changes they are making such as activities in the community like gardening, music, volunteering or courses. We also often have to engage residents with specialist services such as; social services, eating disorder services, domestic violence and specialist women’s services.

“We are working with residents to move on to accommodation with less support or independent living accommodation. We have referred people into supported accommodation, council housing, housing first, shared housing in the mental health pathway – with more appropriate support and into clearing house.


“One aspect that makes the Waterloo Project special in my opinion is the team. This shows through the engagement of the residents and the positive things they say, often being that TWP has been the first place they have felt safe and supported, and could see their lives changing because they have moved here. The project has been a place of hope and connection, full of stories and characters.

“The building itself is unique, with a beautiful garden, light welcoming kitchen, and upstairs lounge. So many visitors to the project would comment on how special the place felt and how focused and supportive the team were.”

Lorraine and the rest of the team share their best memories of the project:

“Food! one year we celebrated a resident’s 60th birthday by having a BBQ for everyone. Even though the cooking and prepping for it was stressful it was worth it, there was a good turn out and residents enjoyed the food and socialised well with everyone. The birthday resident was really happy we did this for him and still talks about it to this day.”

“One year having a Christmas tree donated to the project and residents getting involved with decorating it, listening to Christmas songs, singing, and chatting about Christmas and the New Year, with positive thoughts.”

“Baking cakes with residents, and other residents coming down and chatting and all getting along and laughing because one of the batches went terribly wrong!”

“Food and playing Jenga, so many hours of Jenga!”

“Reflective practice sessions where we’ve thought differently as a team about a resident that was really challenging, then as a team learning to see things differently.”

“Cooking the meals and facing personal challenges in cooking a Saturday fry up and Sunday roast dinner for 19 people and receiving comments from residents about how good it was and that they enjoyed the meals”


Mental health support in Lambeth: Meet the Staying Well team

Agnes, manager of the Staying Well team, discusses her work supporting people in Lambeth with mental health support needs

Mental health support in Lambeth: Meet the Staying Well team

“I’m Agnes, team manager for the Staying Well team, which is part of the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance (LWNA). I’ve been at Thames Reach since 2017, initially as a lead worker in our women’s-only hostel before transferring to the Alliance in 2018.

“Staying Well is a new service within the LWNA which aims to act as a ‘bridge’ between primary and secondary mental health care. This is a very exciting opportunity for me and the team as over the first year our aim is to develop the offer by testing and learning what works.

“The team will be working in innovative ways to support people who are ready to be discharged from secondary mental health services to stay well in the community, as well as working with GPs to support people in primary care who have been identified as having unmet mental health needs, but who appear not to meet the threshold for a referral to secondary care service.

“The service will focus on timely engagement, social inclusion, building autonomy and independence, as well as improving physical health outcomes, such as supporting and encouraging people to attend medical appointments.

“Anyone who has worked in ending street homelessness will have first-hand awareness that there is a clear link between mental health, physical health, and street homelessness. We are working to support people with early interventions, making sure they have access to the right services, help reduce isolation, look after their physical health, and stay in their own homes. We don’t give up on people, we meet them where they are, and we do what we say we are going to do.

“In the Staying Well team, we have been working very hard to implement a new service and make it a part of the offer we have for people who are experiencing mental health difficulties in Lambeth. We are at an early development stage, and we have much more to learn than to teach. However, I am once again convinced that in order to support people to the best to our ability, collaboration and communication between all parties involved in an individual’s care is essential. Continuous work at both organisational and individual levels to break down stereotypes and preconceived ideas we have about people we support is also vital to provide tailored support which meets the individual’s needs.

“I am proud of how flexible we are as a team, whilst maintaining a clear vision of what we want to achieve. I am constantly impressed by my team; their innovation, enthusiasm, and dedication to the people we work with inspires me every day. I learned that perseverance, resilience, innovation, and an ability to not just listen but also hear, are just some of the qualities required when setting up a service which aims to introduce new ways of supporting people with mental health needs.”

Will’s story

Receiving tailored support for his mental health has given Will the confidence to explore his hobbies and interests again

Will’s story

Will has been receiving mental health and tenancy sustainment support from Thames Reach through our partnership with the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance. He is now looking at life beyond his diagnosis and is enjoying his hobbies and interests again, which include dancing and record collecting.

Will is in his mid-fifties.  He has a complex mental health diagnosis, for which he needs a high level of support. When he first received support from the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, he was living in his own self-contained flat. He has found it difficult to manage a tenancy, so the team established that the type of accommodation he was in was not suitable for him. For Will, the stress of maintaining a tenancy had been one of the primary triggers leading to relapsing in his mental health, so this was taken into consideration when assessing his support needs.

An acceptance of his diagnosis and need for medication to help him manage his condition was achieved sensitively and through one-to-one conversations, so he could ensure that moving forward, this was in his best interest. When he was discharged from his last hospital admission, the Home Treatment Team (HTT ) visited regularly to support him in taking his medication, but he is now able to self-medicate independently.

His support workers have played a key role in helping Will manage his tenancy and thus reduce his stress levels. He also finds it hard to maintain his flat, so has a cleaner who visits once a week.

He needs support with tasks around computer literacy, processing information and liaising with services, as this is another source of stress for him, so his support workers have been advocating for him with various services. For instance, they have supported him when making phone calls to utility companies or to his landlord to report repairs, and then breaking information down for him. This has been achieved by building up a relationship of trust between Will and his support workers, through regular meetings and a consistent and empathetic approach, so that he feels comfortable asking for their support.

Aside from his health and tenancy needs, Will has also required support with financial management. The team have helped him set up affordable repayment agreements, minimising his debt by helping him claim discounts that are offered to people needing extra support. He has been assisted in claiming benefits and opening a bank account.

Will is a keen collector of records and other pop music memorabilia, and often explores charity shops in different parts of London looking for collectable items. He also enjoys his garden and often buys flowers and plants. He loves to discuss these subjects when support workers visit, and these conversations put him in a relaxed state of mind. Having a positive interest that he can pursue has greatly assisted his recovery.

Five years has now passed since Will’s last hospital admission. He has a sense of fulfilment and feels he has a strong network in the community to support him. He has just completed a course in IT through Thames Reach’s Employment and Skills team and is now able to use a smartphone and access the internet. Now, he is planning for the future and is being supported in exploring further groups and courses. As well as taking part in gardening groups, he hopes to begin dance classes, an activity that he enjoyed in the past and hopes to incorporate into his recovery journey.

New figures show 19% reduction in rough sleeping

New CHAIN figures released today show a reduction in new people coming onto the streets

New figures show 19% reduction in rough sleeping

We welcome the publication of the Quarter 3 2021/2 CHAIN (Combined Homelessness and Information Network) figures by the Greater London Authority today.   The figures cover the months September to December 2021, and show a slow but welcome reduction in the overall numbers of people sleeping rough across London in the quarter, 11% down on the same period last year.

However, within this headline figure we see a worrying rise in the number of people experiencing rough sleeping in the long-term (19% increase on last year, and 16% higher than the previous quarter), defined in the report as ‘People Living on the Streets’.  The factors behind this rise are complex, but include the lack of options for people with unclear immigration status, difficulties in accessing suitable health and drug and alcohol services, as well as a shortage of supported accommodation spaces for people with complex needs.

This increase in people who are sleeping rough long-term further highlights the importance of targeted prevention and early intervention aimed at those at risk of street homelessness.  In the work we do, there is clear evidence that support at an early stage helps prevent the devastating experience and impact of rough sleeping on an individual’s health and future well-being. Providing support at this level as well as helping an individual to find and stay in suitable accommodation is how we will keep working to reduce the numbers we see in today’s report.

The report is available to read online here.

Lambeth Together starts 2022 with a pledge to improve health and wellbeing for all

Leaders of Lambeth’s health organisations have made a pledge which describes the work of the Lambeth Together Care Partnership to improve health and care and reduce health inequalities in the borough

Lambeth Together starts 2022 with a pledge to improve health and wellbeing for all

Leaders of Lambeth’s NHS, council and voluntary and community organisations have recorded a video of their pledge which describes how they will work as the Lambeth Together Care Partnership to improve health and care and reduce health inequalities in the borough. This comes at a time when partners are preparing for new formalised arrangements in line with the Government’s Health and Care Bill to build better joined up systems around health and care. Watch their pledge here.

From 1 January 2022, the Lambeth Together Care Partnership began to operate in shadow form, in anticipation of the legislation placing integrated care systems on a statutory footing in the summer of 2022. The new arrangements will improve the borough’s shared planning and delivery of services, as one of six place-based partnerships of south east London’s developing integrated care system. The Lambeth Together Care Partnership will have responsibility for delivering a new Lambeth Together Health & Wellbeing Strategy and the borough’s Health & Care Plan.

Councillor Jim Dickson, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, and Dr Di Aitken, Clinical Lead for the Lambeth Neighbourhood & Wellbeing Delivery Alliance, will jointly chair the Lambeth Together Care Partnership Board, reflecting shared leadership across the NHS and the local authority. Andrew Eyres, Strategic Director for Integrated Health and Care across the NHS and Lambeth Council, will be the executive lead for Lambeth Together. Other members of the board include representatives from Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts, Lambeth general practice, Healthwatch and the local community including the voluntary sector.

Dr Di Aitken said: “I’m delighted to see us take this important step forward in integrated care, and I look forward to hearing from local people about what matters most to them as we develop our local Health and Care Plan.”

“We want to make our Pledge known to the community as this underpins all the work we do. It represents our shared values, behaviours and, in particular, the ways we will come together to tackle health inequalities in Lambeth.”

Councillor Jim Dickson said: “We need to continue listening and learning as we’ve done throughout the coronavirus pandemic so that we emerge stronger, more connected and less unequal as a community. We welcome these developments in the Health & Care Bill. And we will continue to work more closely with NHS colleagues and our communities to take forward our shared ambitions to improve health and shape what we do around local need as well as our best evidence of what works”.

Integrated care systems (ICSs) bring together NHS providers and commissioners with local authorities and other partners to collectively plan health and care services to meet the needs of their populations. By integrating care across different organisations and settings, joining up hospital and community-based services, physical and mental health, and health and social care, integrated care systems aim to improve population health and reduce inequalities, support sustainability of services; and help the NHS to support social and economic development. All parts of England are now covered by one of 42 ICSs.

With relationships and arrangements for working together developed since 2018 through the Lambeth Together Strategic Board, Lambeth health and care partners are well placed to assume delegated responsibility for planning and managing the majority of services to support health at borough level. Find out more about Lambeth Together and its leadership.

The Lambeth Together Care Partnership holds its board meetings in public every two months, with the opportunity to ask question in a public forum at the start of every meeting. If you have an interest in health and wellbeing in Lambeth, you’re welcome to come along and share your views. Find out about the next public forum here.

Lambeth Living Well Alliance shortlisted for HSJ Partnership Award

The Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance has been nominated for the ‘Best Mental Health Partnership in the NHS’ category at the HSJ Partnership Awards

Lambeth Living Well Alliance shortlisted for HSJ Partnership Award

The Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance are pleased to have been shortlisted for ‘Best Mental Health Partnership Award with the NHS’ award in the HSJ Partnership Awards.

The Alliance is part of the Lambeth Together Partnership and brings together member organisations: South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Lambeth Council, Certitude, NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group (SEL CCG) and Thames Reach, to deliver a transformation in the way people in Lambeth recover from mental ill health and to help them stay well. Its objective is to offer users of its services a wider breadth of options to do so.

Judges are selected from across the NHS and wider healthcare sector. Judges contribute valuable time and effort to work through hundreds of entries, reviewing against strict criteria and attributing scores against a transparent system aimed at rewarding and recognising the best of UK Healthcare.

Bill Tidnam, Chief Executive of Thames Reach, said: “Being shortlisted for the partnership awards is a great recognition of the Alliance staff. Working as an Alliance gives us the opportunity to draw the best from all the partner organisations whether the NHS, the council or the voluntary sector.”

Sabrina Phillips, Director of the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, said: “I am extremely proud that we have been shortlisted as one of the finalists for the HSJ Partnership Awards in the category of Best Mental Health Partnership with the NHS. This a positive reflection of the hard work and dedication of our staff, and recognises the collaborative efforts of our  Alliance Partners to successfully implement The Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance. We are committed to delivering improved access, experience and outcomes for our patients, and to be chosen among the other incredible nominees is a wonderful achievement.  This nomination has been a tremendous boost to staff in the Alliance, and I am sure it will bolster our continued efforts to improve our services for the people of Lambeth.”

The winners will be announced on 24 March 2022, at a ceremony in London.