Seven Years of Fulfilling Lives South East Project – 6th July 2021

Learning from our work so far and ambitions for the final year

Today is the seven-year anniversary of the start of the Fulfilling Lives South East Project which is led by BHT Sussex and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

The Fulfilling Lives South East Project (FLSE) is one of 12 projects across England funded to (i) provide intensive support for people experiencing multiple disadvantage (ii) involve people with lived experience of multiple disadvantage at all levels (iii) challenge and change systems that negatively affect people facing multiple disadvantage. More information can be found here.

Standing on the cusp of our project’s eighth year, we can reflect on distance travelled and look forward to the final year ahead.

The client facing work came to an end on 30th June and I have been humbled and privileged to work with some exceptional staff and clients over the years. Our local delivery partners Seaview, Change Grow Live, Equinox and Oasis Project have brought expertise, energy and creativity and enabled us to actively model the positive partnership working so needed by those experiencing multiple complex needs.

The project has worked with a total of 118 people across Brighton & Hove and East Sussex since 2014. Although the numbers are not high, every single one of those individuals’ lives have been characterised by enormous struggles, often since childhood, and the strength and resilience they have demonstrated in surviving and overcoming adversity has been truly inspiring. This has helped us to remain focussed and grounded in our purpose to achieve greater social justice for this group.

The project has made some good progress in achieving system flex and better outcomes for individuals. The work has included; advocacy work to enable access to long term specialist care and support; negotiating and enabling access to medical or community drug and alcohol treatment, reducing the burden on acute services; preventing and reducing repeat pregnancies and subsequent removal of children into care through proactive approaches to delivering sexual and relationship health advice; working with statutory partners to challenge stigma and demonstrating positive practice in successful engagement with this client group and trauma informed and trauma responsive work to enable clients to understand and manage their own feelings and be more in control of their own lives.

Our service user involvement and co-production work is thriving, and by actively providing a pathway to employment for those experiencing multiple needs, to date, the project has employed 41 individuals on its employment programme. The project has also provided a direct conduit to a wider group who have been able to share their insights and lived experiences to help inform changes and improvements in services. To date the project has supported a total of 119 volunteers with lived experience of multiple needs.

78 individual bespoke training sessions have been co-produced with the lived experience team and delivered to a total of 1300 recipients across the area. Topics have included trauma informed working, challenging stigma, and navigating complexity, among others.

The project has also made good progress in systems change projects, working with local partner organisations spanning health, adult social care, criminal justice, housing, domestic abuse, children’s services, and substance misuse sectors.  Notable highlights have included the creation of an East Sussex temporary accommodation action group (TAAG) to foster improved communication and problem solving between stakeholders concerned with temporary accommodation; facilitation of cross sector forums to break down siloes and foster improved service responses for those experiencing coexisting substance use and mental health conditions; a collaboration with commissioners to evaluate a pilot trialling improvements to the local MARAC system; a multi layered project with B&HCC housing needs service helping to embed psychologically informed ways of working across the department; a long-standing partnership with the DWP, helping to improve understanding of and response to individuals presenting with multiple complex needs.

However, there is still so much work to do. In spite of some amazing work going on across Sussex, the system still stigmatises and fails many individuals with multiple complex needs, often exacerbating exclusion rather than reducing it.

In our final year we are absolutely committed to accelerating and completing all our current projects and demonstrating progress against all of our commitments for change (24 in total), as set out in the project Manifesto of 2019.

We want to leave a lasting footprint locally to enable the work on multiple disadvantage to continue. We are seeking system leaders to champion and nurture the work post FLSE, and continue the work with individuals, but also with services and the wider system, so that those facing multiple disadvantage are not overlooked, marginalised, and blamed but considered, better understood, and consulted with when planning and delivering services.

We will be launching a learning programme this month and sharing monthly updates on publications, events and themed pieces of learning throughout the final year of the project. To join our mailing list please contact jo.rogers@bht.org.uk

Author: Jo Rogers

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