Leeds Street Outreach Service: using evidence to improve service delivery
Leeds Street Outreach Service (SOS) has successfully used data analysis to secure additional funding for rough sleepers with complex needs.
The team was recommissioned in 2014 to work with people begging, as well as rough sleepers. By gathering data from their daily outreach, they were able to use the CGL CRiiS case management system to identify trends and needs among the street population.
The data analysis revealed that almost every person found begging had some form of substance addiction. As a result, Leeds commissioners offered to fund additional dedicated workers with specialist skills to address these needs. Funding was provided for one generic and one complex case worker at Leeds SOS and a new substance misuse complex case worker at Forward Leeds (the city’s multiagency substance misuse service).
The two new complex case workers now team up together to work in partnership on the streets, delivering intensive assertive outreach to a case load of around 20 of the city’s most complex rough sleepers.
The additional workers have the time to work with just a few people, spending as long as is necessary with them to make an impact. For example, by accompanying them to meetings and appointments, looking for them around the city when they go missing and providing continuity of care. By going back again and again to talk to the same people they build trust and a rapport that enables them to really get to grips with those individuals and their issues and find solutions.
Project Manager Lesley Howard, said:
“We are seeing people on the streets with much more complex needs. Cuts in social services and mental health support mean people are ending up on the street without access to the intensive support they might have been able to get elsewhere in the past. The generic outreach team work with many people and we needed additional resources to fully address these additional needs. The resources were made available because we were able to use data to demonstrate the need for them.”
“This intensive input has already produced some amazing results. People who previously wouldn’t engage have been fast-tracked into treatment and are starting to turn their lives around. This is because we have the time to persevere with people who resist change. We can show them that we will keep coming back and we won’t give up on them, which encourages them to trust us.”
One rough sleeper who had been known to the team for some time was begging and had complex behaviour. Working with Leeds Housing First, the outreach team have now found him a property, sorted his benefits and got him into the treatment service. He reports that he cannot believe the transformation in his life.
“As this work progresses, we will be able to show that the funding is supporting people to move away from the streets and into accommodation,” Lesley added. “It is changing lives and is money well spent.”