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.

Lambeth Living Well Alliance appoints new director

Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance is pleased to announce the appointment of its new director

The Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance is pleased to announce the appointment of its new director, Sabrina Phillips. Following a competitive recruitment process including external candidates, Sabrina has been selected by the panel after holding the post of interim director for eighteen months. Prior to that, she had worked at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) for seventeen years.

The Alliance is a delivery 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. By working in collaboration, the vision of the Alliance, now with Sabrina at its helm, will work towards being more joined up; quicker and easier to access and focus more on prevention, avoiding crises and unnecessary admissions to hospital.

Sabrina Phillips said: “I am delighted to take up the role as Substantive Alliance Director. Having acted in the role for the past 18 months, I have seen first-hand the resilience of the service users we care for and the people that care for them at an unprecedented time. The passion and drive of Alliance staff to improve the quality of care we deliver to the communities of Lambeth is truly inspiring, but there is more to do. I am committed to working collaboratively with service users, carers, staff and other partners to deliver on our vision to transform mental health care for the people of Lambeth and to deliver the outcomes that matter to them that we committed to as an Alliance.”

James Lowell, chief operating officer at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I know that many people will be delighted to hear that Sabrina Phillips has been appointed permanently into the role of alliance director following a competitive process.”

Bill Tidnam, chief executive at Thames Reach, said: “We’re really pleased that Sabrina has been successful in her application to the permanent alliance director role and we look forward to working closely with her over the years to come.”

Learn more about the Living Well Network Alliance on their website.

Further enquiries including press and media can be directed to: Isobel Scott, communications lead, Thames Reach: media@thamesreach.org.uk

New project helps Lambeth residents into work

New project will help Lambeth residents aged 18-30 into employment

New project helps Lambeth residents into work

Thames Reach’s Employment and Skills team have just launched their new project Bounce Back, a service led by our in-house job broker.

This two-year project will see Lambeth residents aged between 18-30 who are not currently in employment or training get advice and offers for employment. The team are accepting applications on a rolling basis, as the project will be running until 2023.

Applicants will also receive a grant of up to £500 to support costs including food and travel.

Bounce Back is kindly supported by the Walcott Foundation.

Please contact Thames Reach’s job broker, Telixia, at telixia.inico@thamesreach.org.uk with any questions, or to apply.


Interview: Addressing healthcare inequalities in our hostels

Our interview with Yves, manager of the Robertson Street hostel accommodating residents over the age of 40 with mixed support needs, discusses health inequalities among residents

Interview: Addressing healthcare inequalities in our hostels

Health inequalities are one of the main concerns for Thames Reach in our work to end street homelessness. We spoke with Yves, who manages our Robertson Street hostel in south London, on the work they are doing to ensure more people are getting access to the support they need.

Hi Yves, can you introduce us to your service?

Robertson Street is located in Lambeth, south London, and is what you would call a ‘first stage’ hostel, meaning we can get referrals from a range of sources through Lambeth’s Vulnerable Adults Pathway. We have a capacity for 42 residents and ideally each resident’s length of stay is between six months and two years.

What kind of support do residents have access to during that time?

We are an accommodation-based service to  people over 40, so provide access and signposting to support. We want to help residents to be able to move on to independent or semi-independent living following a stay here. We’re part of the Lambeth Vulnerable Adults Pathway, and accommodate residents with a range of different and complex needs. These support needs may have previously contributed to their homelessness or not being able to maintain tenancies or other forms of accommodation. Other hostels in the borough work with different age groups, which is why we specialise in over 40s. We do have a couple of people under 40 but this is because their complex physical, or other, needs cannot be met in other services.

What is your approach to addressing healthcare inequalities at Robertson Street?  

We strive to counteract inequalities and promote inclusion. Inequalities take several forms when we are working with people who have experienced street homelessness, as we must support people to bridge these inequalities, mostly in terms of healthcare. One of the things we do is work with the pathway manager and other external partnerships in order for people to move into needs-based accommodation. It is paramount that an individual can access the support they need. We have a nurse and GP clinic once a week at Robertson Street, as well as a prescribing clinic, and we have very good connections to community mental health services. We really make health a priority. Initial assessment work is carried out in-house when residents first move in, then we can signpost to physical, mental and other medical advice externally, meaning they can continue to get support in the community after they move on. We support residents to attend appointments, working with partnership agencies and Groundswell. This level of encouragement and support enables a smoother move-on into the community when the time is right.

What challenges has your hostel faced during the pandemic?

The main challenges were the move-on pathway becoming less mobile than usual. The repercussion for move-on being unavailable was that we couldn’t move people into the hostel either, so incoming and outgoing options were very limited. Community services that we always promote were facing closures and limited availability, such as day centres, mental health support, drug and alcohol services and other community-based resources, so we had to try our best to keep up momentum and motivation for move-on. While moving services online to Zoom is a good way of keeping people safe, many residents have found this difficult to engage with. We have been keeping residents motivated that their move-on will be happening eventually and kept preparation going. As a team we’ve accomplished this really well, and have been able to keep morale up. Aside from our normal work we had to implement extra cleaning on-site, but it made a big difference; we reduced risk of infection by sanitising the building twice every shift and educating residents about social distancing, risk management and maintaining safe practices.

What positive outcomes have emerged from overcoming these challenges?

We have a great team with good adaptability who can deal with and are supportive of a range of needs. There is a good balance between experienced members of staff and enthusiasm of people who have recently come to work in the sector. I’m proud that we’ve been able to provide a consistent and continual service throughout the pandemic, which reflects the project and Thames Reach as an organisation; we haven’t had to defer anything. Anything that wasn’t available in the community we brought in; our next step is now integrating residents and services back into the community.

New hostel and moving-on accommodation in Lambeth

Our new hostels in Lambeth are helping people move on from street homelessness towards independent living. We spoke with Gareth Bowen, lead manager at Acre Lane and Clarence Avenue projects, about how this is working after the ‘Everyone In’ initiative.

New hostel and moving-on accommodation in Lambeth

Can you tell us about the projects you manage?
Clarence Avenue is an eight-bed project, all self-contained studio flats with en-suite bathrooms and kitchens. We are one of the hostels under Lambeth council’s Vulnerable Adults Pathway to help people come off the streets. We work with residents to help them get to where they need to be. When they first arrive, they will be assessed to see how independent they are and what they might need help with.

At Clarence Avenue, staff provide support for a wide range of issues that residents may arrive with, as well as helping with daily tasks such as budgeting and shopping. Once they are ready, residents will be referred to Clearing House, which is a form of social housing on a two year tenancy, and will be assigned a support worker from the TST (Tenancy Sustainment Team), making sure their support needs are covered. In Clarence Avenue there is always a member of staff available at reception to answer any urgent queries and monitor people entering and exiting the building. The clients there make appointments to see their support worker, which helps to prepare them for more independent living and engaging with services in the community.

I also manage Acre Lane, which is Thames Reach’s newest hostel. Between January and March, it was acting as a cold weather shelter. If outreach workers found someone sleeping rough in Lambeth they could bring them here to be accommodated while we found out more about them . The building is currently being refitted and redecorated;. Part of that refit is having one studio downstairs which is more isolated, which is reserved for a vulnerable person who may benefit from living closer to staff areas.

How does the Lambeth Vulnerable Adults Pathway work?
Lambeth council work hard to ensure all people rough sleeping are made an offer of accommodation. Several Thames Reach hostels are commissioned by Lambeth, so Robertson Street, The Waterloo Project, Lambeth High Street, Martha Jones House, and now Acre Lane and Clarence Avenue. The council commission projects such as ours within their Vulnerable Adults Pathway, including supported housing, and people can move between them as required, with the end goal of moving out of supported accommodation and maintaining their own tenancy. Street homelessness is often complex and not straightforward to resolve, so we work with people to address their support needs.

What positive outcomes have you seen so far?
Trying to test people’s abilities to live independently has its challenges but residents having more freedom at Acre Lane has been working well. We run cooking classes once a week on each floor; some of our residents have not had to cook for themselves in a long time, so building up these skills is going to make a huge difference. While we provide support based on their needs, we also need to make sure we’re covering the everyday tasks and skills that residents will need to have in place in order to live well independently, so for example we can go to the shops with them if they need it, as well as signposting to external services, to help them engage more with the wider communities.

When Acre Lane was the cold weather shelter, we housed a lot of people in a very short space of time, which was really impressive.. Once people were housed, we were able to focus  on longer-term solutions, and again this was focused on the support needs of the individual. The team of staff have done really well, and worked so hard to help people move on in difficult circumstances. The project was set up very quickly over the winter months and everyone has had to be very adaptable and flexible, it’s been a strong team effort.

Thames Reach respond to mental health needs in the local community

The need for specialised mental health support has never been higher; around 50% of people experiencing street homelessness also have mental health support needs. We spoke with Monica, programme manager at the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, about Thames Reach’s role in supporting good mental health and wellbeing in the community.

Thames Reach respond to mental health needs in the local community

In the year 2020/21 almost half the people seen sleeping rough were assessed as having mental health support needs. This is a significant factor in helping people not only move on from street homelessness, but prevent episodes of sleeping rough in the first place. In response Thames Reach has teamed up with NHS mental health services, Lambeth council and other charitable organisations to improve the way these services work and to make sure that they are accessible to the people we work with.

Monica Geraghty, programme manager at the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, a service dedicated to mental health provisions in the borough, discusses its incredible work and how she looks after her own mental wellbeing.

“I have been working as part of the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance (LWNA) for two years, and I am currently programme manager. The Alliance is a collaboration between five organisations: Certitude and Thames Reach (voluntary sector); NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – now part of South-East London CCG; South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), and Lambeth Council. This collaboration brings together agencies from statutory and voluntary sector organisations who work together to provide smoother access to services and support for those who need it.

“Adapting to the pandemic has been a challenge but one that teams have executed well. Inpatients wards have had to redesign how they operate to manage COVID-positive cases. The Alliance Rehabilitation Team and the 3 Living Well Centres (LWC) have had to pull their resources together and adjust to remote working practices. A lot of hard work has gone into developing these changes, which has included people working outside the normal expectations of their roles to ensure services have always remained covered. During the first lockdown I was part of the LWC duty system which I wouldn’t normally have done which gave me a good insight to the work and pressures these teams face.

“From these experiences we have found that as an Alliance we are resourceful and adaptable; teams have been focused on how we can support our Lambeth service users and have instigated change at pace to ensure this can happen. The other big change is that everyone now knows how to use Microsoft teams – there is no escaping it!”

Keeping vulnerable women safe in lockdown

Anthony Donnelly, lead worker at our women-only residential project in Lambeth, talks about how residents and staff are adapting to lockdown

Keeping vulnerable women safe in lockdown

We caught up with Anthony Donnelly, who manages our women’s residential service in Lambeth. The project works with women with multiple and often complex issues, and as a residential service it plays a significant role in supporting women who may be vulnerable in a mixed-gender setting. Anthony tells us how staff and residents alike are adapting well during the lockdown. 

 It’s about seven weeks into lockdown now and as there are only five women living at our project, we can personalise the support we provide and can take into account everyone’s needs. For example, three people in the house are in a high-risk category, so we have separated the two bathrooms we have, one on the first floor and another downstairs, so that high-risk residents have sufficient space and shielding is able to take place. Cleaning efforts have increased during this time too; we have cleaners coming more regularly, ensuring hygienic conditions for everyone.

In lockdown it’s clear to see how entrenched rough sleeping has a big impact on self-esteem, as sometimes the residents have less concern for their own wellbeing. Years of street activity is often part of their psyche, even after our residents have been able to move away from the streets, and that level of social distancing has proven difficult for some of the women at our project. Where there are multiple issues, like underlying conditions or mental health issues for example, not being in contact with family members and friends is incredibly difficult. Overall though, our client group tend to have a much lighter social footprint than those in mainstream living as their social networks are often smaller than or not as supportive. Having our project as a base has been essential in keeping all our residents safe.

In terms of issues that disproportionately affect women, we have been hearing in the news that there has been an increase in domestic abuse cases since lockdown, but fortunately this has not something we have found among residents here. We have had to implement a ban on visitors, which is not ideal for wellbeing and morale but has to be done in these circumstances.

Residents being able to move on from the project isn’t really possible at the moment but we have recently taken in a new resident; this was all done via phone and with social distancing in mind. It’s quite an uncomfortable and potentially upsetting way to go about entering new accommodation for the first time, so I’m looking forward to being able to welcome people properly again. There are a couple of women ready for moving on to rented accommodation but unfortunately they are both in the high-risk category so will not be able to do so until the situation has changed.

The psychological impact of the pandemic isn’t too evident yet, but we have additional psychological support offered at Waterloo Project [another Thames Reach project]. Residents are starting to take up the offer and we are helping facilitate this, but there is some extra caution surrounding accessing external health services with residents, due to social distancing. I am keeping in contact with residents via phone to let them know about meals and services, so I can check in with them without physical proximity. We have been getting food parcels of freshly prepared meals supplied via local authorities, who have been really helpful and cooperative. Above all else, our project remains a supportive and safe base for vulnerable women and those with experience of homelessness. We are really pleased to be able to keep this service running throughout the pandemic.