CPFT team offers 'triangle of support' to homeless people

Pioneering work of dual-diagnosis street team is attracting interest from across the country

CPFT team offers 'triangle of support' to homeless people
07 August 2018

A pioneering project run by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust to help homeless people with mental health and substance misuse problems is attracting interest from across the country.

The Dual Diagnosis Street Outreach Team has helped scores of rough sleepers in Cambridge since it was launched last summer.

The team helps those on the streets access mental health, substance misuse and homelessness services. Believed to be first of its kind to offer the so-called "triangle of support", the service is attracting interest from throughout the UK and Ireland.

Team leader Graham Murray (pictured with colleagues with colleagues Nadean Saberton and Iris Schmidt) said: “We have had a really good response since we launched, helping nearly 50 people. Engaging with those who are homeless is not easy, but we have been able to win people’s trust and then advise them on getting the support and help that they need.

“We know if we can help them identify and stabilise their mental health conditions, support them recover from their substance misuse issues, and signpost them to organisations that can help with a permanent address, they can lead the lives they want to live.’

“There are other places in the country that offer mental health, substance misuse and homelessness advice, but as far as we know we are the only team that offers all three. Consequently, we have had a lot of interest from other health organisations across the country and from Ireland. Many of them have come to see us to see how we operate and difference we aim to make to people’s lives.”

The team works with a variety of partners including Cambrige City Council – which has funded the team - churches and homeless organisations such as Jimmy’s Night Shelter and Wintercomfort where the team hold regular drop-in sessions.

According to a report by the Mental Health Foundation in 2015, 32 per cent of homeless people reported a mental health condition – nearly 10 times the national average. While figures around substance misuse by homeless people are less well documented, the Foundation states they are “common”.

Graham said: “From our experience so far I would say that closer to 50 per cent of people we have engaged with have a mental health condition. But that’s where we can help, signposting people to services run by CPFT and other organisations that can help them with their recovery.

“We have been funded until April 2019. We hope in that time we can conclusively prove just how much as service like this can make to people who are living on the streets. At the moment we only operate in Cambridge, but our hope is that we can take it across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in the future.”

Suzanne Hemingway, Strategic Director at Cambridge City Council, said: “We know that most people sleeping rough in Cambridge have complex lives that frequently involve drug and alcohol addictions or mental health problems and, often, a combination of these.

"People don’t sleep rough on the streets by choice and it is nearly always the case that they are at a crisis point in their lives. For these reasons the Dual Diagnosis Street Outreach Team’s work is a really important part of the support we offer these vulnerable people, to help them overcome their problems and to make a fresh start.”


For more information please contact:

Andy Burrows
Media and Marketing Manager
E andy.burrows@cpft.nhs.uk
T 01223 219467


Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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