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Service shake-up to save lives and transform communities

A radical overhaul of services for some of the most vulnerable people in Middlesbrough is unveiled this week.

The bold new approach will transform the way key support - covering homelessness, domestic and sexual violence, and substance misuse - is delivered across the town.

The revamp is one of elected Mayor Andy Preston's flagship policies that he says will save lives and do ‘fantastic things' for those in need.

Delivery of the new model is being spearheaded by Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor Antony High, who brings more than 20 years' experience in the field to his new role.

The proposal - to be considered by Middlesbrough Council's Executive next week (Tuesday, October 8) - will cut out duplication, improve outcomes and simplify access to help for vulnerable people.

A more efficient delivery model will see the Council working closely with partners from health, the police and a range of other agencies locally, regionally and nationally.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston added: "Drugs and everything that comes with them are destroying lives and blighting communities.

"It's been clear to me for a long time that major change was needed to get the right services to those in need in a way that will really make a difference.

"The current approach is well-meaning but unfocused, and that's allowing people in desperate need to slip through the net.

"I knew straight away that Antony had exactly the right background, energy and initiative to deliver the transformation that's been needed for too long in such an important area.

"What he's come up with is something truly inspirational that's going to do fantastic things for people who need help.

"It is no exaggeration to say that these long overdue improvements to the way we work will save the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

"This won't happen overnight - but its impact will be felt for decades to come."

Under the new ‘joined up' commissioning approach, a more effective and co-ordinated service will be delivered to those in need in five key areas:

  • Homelessness
  • Domestic abuse
  • Sexual violence
  • Substance misuse
  • Welfare rights

Central to the new approach is an acknowledgement of increasing numbers of individuals and families with multiple, complex needs in Middlesbrough.

Combined factors of domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental ill-health - termed the ‘toxic trio' - are putting individuals, families and children at increased risk, and leading to high levels of drug-related deaths, suicides and domestic homicides.

An in-depth review of existing services and support revealed a lack of co-ordination of overall care tailored to the needs of the individual.

Under the proposed ‘hub and spoke' model, a shared ‘making every contact count' approach aims to ensure the right support is available from the right agency at the right time.

A core team will act as a one-stop gateway to specialist substance misuse, accommodation and support services.

Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor Antony High said: "We have some excellent services in Middlesbrough which provide vital support and interventions, but they're not as effective as they should be because they're not properly joined up.

"Most of those who need these services have multiple issues, and therefore need help across a number of different areas.

"I'm really excited about this new approach because its whole focus is on co-ordinating all the resources we have in a more effective way to help people break out of vicious cycles of addiction and dependence.

"It's also about helping them to develop the independence and resilience that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

"I know this will work, and I'm sure it will become a national template for effective and lasting intervention."