Case Studies

Emma's Story: Unlocking change for those in active addiction with personalised pre-treatment therapy

Fulfilling Lives works with people with multiple and complex needs. Sometimes services have entry requirements which mean our clients can be excluded from support which might benefit their recoveries. This means that our clients can ‘fall through the gaps’, and struggle to receive the support they need.

Emma was living in temporary accommodation, had multiple mental health diagnoses and was in active addiction. She had experienced long-term domestic abuse, and struggled to talk about her feelings and current situation. Because she was still using substances, she did not have access to therapies which might support her to address her feelings and move forwards towards recovery.

What did we do?

We recognised that Emma needed some form of pre-intervention therapy, to help her to address the root causes of her addiction and seek mainstream mental health support. Emma grew up around horses and enjoyed spending time with them. She agreed that ‘equine therapy’, a talking therapy which involves horses, would be something she would like to try. Fulfilling Lives used their psychological interventions fund to pay for her sessions. This fund can be used to support clients who are still in active addiction and so are not able to access mainstream therapeutic support.

She learned from the first sessions that the horses went away if she became distressed, so she tried to talk through her feelings calmly with her therapist. As the sessions progressed, Emma felt more able to open up and maintain safer boundaries with people in her life. Her workers noticed she was presenting as less anxious, and less rushed in her day-to-day activities. This meant she was able to walk down busy streets and wait patiently for appointments in a way she was unable to before the therapy.

What difference did it make?

Eventually the changes led to Emma reducing her substance use and enforcing some important boundaries with a previous partner. This is an example of the value of providing clients with access to therapy whilst they are still in active addiction. For Emma, this support enabled her to address the issues underlying her substance use, a crucial first step in her recovery.

Pete's Story - Breaking the cycle: Capitalising on crisis with repeat offenders

Some people with multiple and complex needs can get in a ‘cycle’ of serving short-term sentences in local prisons. When our clients leave prison they may sleep rough or engage in problematic alcohol and substance misuse. These circumstances can lead to low-level crime to support themselves, which result in a return to prison and a continuation of this cycle.

Pete was in this situation throughout much of his time with us. He seemed highly chaotic in his lifestyle and behaviour, and used multiple substances regularly. He was wary of any services that tried to support him, and would not engage with any workers offering help.

What did we do?

Despite his lack of engagement with us as a project, we kept Pete on as a client. This was because we were looking for any changes in the situation which we might be able to use as a first step to engaging with him and providing support.

One day Pete was sadly rushed to a local hospital with a life-threatening infection. The stay meant that Pete was in one accessible place for a period of time, allowing our worker and others to visit regularly.

The Rapid Response Fund is a fund which can be used with clients for short-term, immediate support with issues as they arise. During this time the rapid response fund was used to buy toiletries, snacks and pyjamas to provide some comfort and dignity, and to encourage Pete to complete his treatment. This was alongside intensive support and co-ordination of Pete’s case, making him feel supported and listened to.

What difference did it make?

As a result of this intervention, Pete began to trust his workers and accept support. He was housed after his time in hospital, breaking the cycle of rough sleeping and prison stays. He is now on a script to help him manage his substance use, and has the space outside of the cycle to reflect on his behaviours and feelings, and what the next steps might be.

Rob's Story - Creating flexibility in a blocked system and enabling the transition from rough sleeping to secure accommodation

Often the people we work with have fallen through the cracks in existing services and need intensive support to overcome the barriers they face.

Rob is a 51-year-old man who has a history of problematic alcohol and substance use. He has been sleeping rough for around 8 years and has had limited opportunities to secure accommodation. He has experienced stigma, for example, he had been made a ‘customer of concern’ at the local council, which made accessing their services challenging. This, alongside a homeless application where he was not deemed a ‘priority need’ meant Rob’s only remaining chance to be housed was to try to access the private rented sector.

What did we do?

Rob’s Fulfilling Lives Project Worker called more than fifteen local letting agencies but all of them said that Rob would need a home owner guarantor if he was on housing benefit, which he did not have.

The Project Worker then met a local builder who was renovating some flats, and who operates locally on behalf of a landlord who has a significant property portfolio. Over a few weeks he developed a relationship with him and eventually asked if he would consider giving Rob an opportunity despite his not having a guarantor, if he was able to raise six months’ rent. This was agreed.

The process was managed through a local letting agency thereby ensuring that Rob had a legitimate tenancy agreement given the unconventional manor in which the opportunity had come about.
Throughout the process the Fulfilling Lives Project Worker had to carefully manage Rob’s expectations, and support him through various low-level setbacks which to Rob seemed like a major problem at the time.

Eventually two separate grants were secured, alongside £500 which Rob was entitled to from probation as he was engaging with his community order, as part of their program to reduce re offending.

The Fulfilling Lives project was then able to contribute a significant amount of money to ensure he had the full six months’ rent, and Rob successfully moved into his own flat.

What difference did it make?

Taking a slightly unorthodox approach, we were able to create some flexibility in an otherwise blocked system. The result was that Rob was able to obtain his own tenancy for the first time in more than eight years which was an incredible achievement for him. This in turn enabled him to become further integrated back into society, and further barriers could be overcome. For example, with a permanent address he can now have access to a bank account and enrol on the electoral register.

The Fulfilling Lives Project Worker spent considerable time building relationships with local builders and a letting agency, and if this case turns out to be a success in the long-term, then it may open the door for others to be given an opportunity in the future.

Rob’s Fulfilling Lives Project Worker has continued to support him since he moved into the accommodation, which he has now sustained for 15 months. His involvement with the police has significantly reduced, and his housing stability has helped him to maximise his income via benefits. As a result of these changes, his levels of support needs have generally reduced, and he is far more optimistic about the future.

“This is a stepping stone for me… I hope that going forward I can set up my own charitable organisation.”