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A Cambridgeshire initiative at the forefront of changing the lives of people experiencing a combination of homelessness, substance misuse, criminality and mental health issues is to take part in a prestigious five year national project.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Counting Every Adult Service (CEA) has helped around 100 people since it began in 2011 and has now been asked to join the national Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) Programme along with 25 other areas to establish the most effective ways to help of our most vulnerable and challenging adults.

CEA’s unique approach is to shape services around the individual, working with that person to give them the confidence to make changes in their lives. They provide one to one  support on a wide range of issues unique to each person, such as health, family and relationship problems, drugs and alcohol, finances and accommodation.

CEA has been recognized as a leader in its field and is the longest running service in the country. Its outcomes and successes have been highlighted in several professional publications.

Danny who found himself homeless, addicted to alcohol and seriously ill, was supported by CEA to get back on his feet. He said: “After having some initial success in my early career, I lost my job and found myself homeless. This exposed me to a culture of alcohol and substance abuse and my health began to deteriorate to the point where I lost the ability to walk and I found myself very unwell.  Doctors and ambulances were called out to me but I refused to go into hospital.  However, with the support I received from CEA I have managed to get my life back on track.

“They linked me to services but rather than tell me what to do they have supported me in my decisions and helped me make the right ones. This has really lifted my confidence and made me believe I can make the right decisions in my life. I’ve now been sober for over 12 months.  I’m now a Inclusion Champion helping others who were in my position and I also volunteer at my local hospital.”

The MEAM approach is a national scheme working with a range of organisations to find the best ways to transform the lives of adults with complex needs and deliver improved outcomes. MEAM is a coalition of national charities including Clinks, Homeless Link and Mind, formed to improve policy and services for people facing multiple needs. 

Marie Ludlam, Counting Every Adult Service Coordinator for Cambridgeshire County Council, said; “We are a specialist service dealing with a small number of the most complex cases every year. We support those involved by working with them one-to-one to build a trusted relationship so we can help those individuals deal with the issues facing them. We ask them about their objectives and their desired outcomes from support and at no stage does the team seek to influence these or work outside of them. We do not impose rigid ‘care plans’, which allows the client to progress along a journey of support which is both bespoke and flexible.

“This has improved the quality of life, health and wellbeing for many of these individuals as well as saving money on lessening the need for healthcare and contact with the criminal justice system. The MEAM programme will see the County Council working closely with other areas of the country, sharing our good practice as well as learning from each other.” 

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