People with multiple and complex needs may experience several overlapping problems at the same time, such as mental ill health, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, offending and family breakdown. They can find themselves in a downward spiral, living chaotic lives and experiencing poverty, stigma and discrimination.

Nationally there are an estimated 58,000 people living in crisis due to the complexity of their needs and the lack of effective support services.  They tend to fall through the gaps between services because no one takes overall responsibility for helping them to break the cycle they are in. Stuck in a ‘revolving door’ of care, their problems become ever more entrenched, at an escalating cost to themselves, local communities and the public purse. 

SHP’s Big Lottery-funded Fulfilling Lives in Islington and Camden (FLIC) project supports people with multiple and complex needs in these boroughs to build more positive and fulfilling futures.

Supported by three local delivery partners, SHP works with people intensively, building trust and advocating on their behalf. Since the service launched in May 2014, there have been some impressive outcomes achieving a high level of sustained engagement with this most chaotic and hard to reach of groups.

As well as transforming the lives of individual clients, our model is designed to drive systemic change, influencing practice and improving how services are commissioned. We aim to break down barriers between different agencies, improving the co-ordination and effectiveness of local services and resulting in a more joined up and person-centred approach.

In Islington and Camden we have brought together a partnership of key agencies from the statutory and voluntary sectors, each of them committed to greater collaboration in order to improve provision for people with multiple needs. These strategic partners provide ongoing support and governance to the delivery of the project.

In 2015-16 the FLIC team worked with 90 clients, all of whom were homeless or at risk of homelessness at the point of referral. All had a long history of struggling with untreated mental health issues, alcohol or drug misuse, offending and homelessness, and all had demonstrated poor or non-existent engagement with support services.

  • 90% are now housed and sustaining tenancies
  • 77% of clients threatened with eviction were supported to successfully sustain their tenancies
  • 65% are engaged with some sort of substance misuse treatment

To bring much needed stability to the lives of clients in the FLIC service, we use the Housing First approach, which gives people who have experienced long term homelessness their own permanent accommodation as a starting point for working with them to tackle underlying problems.

Across all our services, an increasing proportion of the people we work with are presenting with multiple needs, with approximately 60 per cent of SHP clients in this category.


Read more about how we work with multiple needs