New mental health team helping rough sleepers on streets of Leeds

A new team of mental health professionals is reaching out to help people living on the streets and others who are facing homelessness in Leeds

The newly launched Specialist Therapeutic Outreach Team is part of Forward Leeds, the city’s alcohol and drug service.

Operational Manager at Forward Leeds, Anne Hobbs, said: “Our workers are there for the most vulnerable people in our city – those who have both mental and physical health problems as well as alcohol and drug misuse problems.

“Many of those living on the streets in Leeds have suffered multiple traumas in the past. People may be familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but trauma can also lead to depression, self-harm, alcohol and drug misuse, psychosis, relationship difficulties, dissociation, suicidal thoughts and an increased risk of poor physical health.”

She said those affected had difficulty engaging or staying engaged with the services that were able to meet their needs. The workers are trained to understand these issues and now work with individuals to improve their lives and help them to recover from substance misuse issues with Forward Leeds.

The team works alongside already established Safer Leeds Street Support Team and other support services in the city to ensure collaborative and streamlined working, with the full intention of bringing about positive change for this vulnerable client group.

Trauma-informed care is about creating the conditions to improve people’s treatment. A person’s past experience of trauma can affect the way they react to experiences in the present. Everyday situations can be very distressing, leading them to behave in ways that could appear aggressive or overly defensive.

Photos: Trauma Informed Mental Health Practitioners Marlisse Elliott and Matt Hanson. 

More about Forward Leeds

Forward Leeds provides support for adults, young people and families needing help with alcohol and drug use in Leeds.

Forward Leeds supports adults and young people to make healthy choices about alcohol and drugs. They reduce risk-taking behaviours through dedicated prevention, early intervention and tailored programmes. The ultimate goal is to support people to achieve and sustain recovery.

In 2019/20 the service worked with almost 6,000 clients.