“It’s so confusing - I don’t even know what options are available to me now.” 

“I was not a high priority...I was just left.” - FLIC clients 

As a project supporting people experiencing multiple disadvantagewe're committed to overcoming the challenges and barriers our clients face when trying to access services. For professionals, coordinating multi-agency approaches can be complicated – with obstacles to navigate both at a service and a system level. But how does it feel for the person at the centre of it all, the individual trying to access support? 

“I get stressed out and lose my rag with professionals. I had to go to a lot of assessments.” - FLIC client 

Confusing. Stressful. Complicated. Re-traumatising. Many FLIC clients report having had negative experiences of accessing services and attending meetings, often rooted in previous trauma going as far back as childhood. Growing up in the care system, early interactions with the criminal justice system, sectioning, and having children removed from their care are all common experiences for the people FLIC support. Understandably, these adverse past experiences impact on their ability to trust new professionals and support systems, and many clients report a sense of powerlessness and a lack of choice when it comes to accessing the range of services they need to get their multiple needs met. 

“They (the client) were not massively involved in that process - it certainly didn’t feel client centred at all.” - Camden partner agency talking about previous experience of professionals meetings 

It was these experiences which led FLIC, in collaboration with Pause Islington, to create Team Around Me – a strengths based and trauma informed model for holding case conferences or multi-agency meetings. Having observed that similar meetings lacked a standardised structure, could sometimes lapse in to negative assumptions about the client and that the client themselves was rarely a part of their own meeting, FLIC and Pause sought to create a new way of multi-agency working which would truly put the client at the centre of their own support.   

“I think TAM as it is designed is completely different... it is client centred, it gives complete autonomy to the client in lots of different ways.” Camden partner agency piloting Team Around Me in their service 

Team Around Me meetings begin with recognising positive factors and achievements, rather than problems or deficits – to enable the client and the agencies who work with them to reflect on what a client is doing already to keep themselves safe, and what their strengths are, before thinking about what goals remain. Team Around Me also gives clients agency by enabling them to choose their own lead professional where possible. The lead professional can call the meetings, take minutes and advocate for the client if they choose not to attend the meeting themselves. 

“I have never seen a (meeting) structure that works to identify system blockages. So, the fact that we can actually do action research as we are going on, gives us the potential to have massive long-term impact.” Islington partner agency 

Team Around Me seeks to go beyond problem solving for individual clients. The  template enables clients and frontline staff to feed back their experiences of challenges and system blockages to the relevant decision makers, to evidence the need for wider change. The template includes a system blockages process tool, which guides meeting attendees through identifying and thinking about blockages collaboratively with a solution/action focused mindset. This allows services to work together to overcome obstacles and to create flex for clients individually – and any trends in system blockages can be captured, quantified and fed back. 

“When it has been used, it has been excellent, the feeling has been really different in the space, the positivity, the creative thinking, the joint working, the feedback the client will receive afterwards.” 

Some services in Camden and Islington, and beyond, have started piloting Team Around Me, but much more work is needed to get the model used more widely and consistently, in order to benefit more clients and evidence the need for lasting change. If you would like to learn more about Team Around Me or arrange a free TAM workshop, please contact [email protected]. 

Download the Team Around Me guidance and template.