Manchester City Council

Entrenched Rough Sleeper Social Work Team 

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

The focus of the Entrenched Rough Sleeper Social Work Team is to drive the Care Act (2014) to the hardest to reach people. This is an emerging area of public service reform and Manchester City Council is leading the way in ‘our way of working’. This team understands that people who are entrenched in rough sleeping, having experienced serve multi-disadvantage and exclusion, are often the most traumatised people in our society. The team therefore implement radical safeguarding toolkits and practices that are bespoke, trauma informed, creative, flexible and therefore strength based in its truest form. The social work team is implementing the Local Government Association; Care and Support in Homelessness and learnings from Serious Adult Reviews and thematic reviews, into their operational delivery. This provides a holistic vantage point that the causation of needs not just the presentation of them. Social work in this context has an integral role to level up the equity gap, advocate, challenge unconscious bias and use legal literacy. It sows seeds of hope for change whilst promoting dignity and self-worth. This team and the role they play is the epitome of social work ethics and values.

What are the key achievements?

The team uses expert by practice and evidence from research to implement public service reform innovation. During the ‘Everybody In’ initiative this unique opportunity unveiled the context of which peoples struggles appeared that either refused to come indoors or behaved in ways that resulted in them not being able to stay indoors. Themes emerged of executive dysfunction. This hypothesis was later evidenced through one of the first Adult Social Care research internships in 2023. This was in collaboration with Research Northwest, purporting to answer; “What does research and expert practice tell us, about the relevance of executive functioning assessments, to work with people who are homeless or rough sleeping and who have complex needs.”

The Entrenched Rough Sleepers Social Work Team is implementing this evidence in their strategic vision, leading multidisciplinary, team around the person approaches that use an Executive Functioning Wheel to assess and understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ people need to be supported with executive dysfunction. They use the Wheel with people they consider might have an element of neuro-divergence, recognising these subtle nuances as a hidden disability. It allows them to assess someone’s capacity from a position of professional curiosity and compassion, to understand behaviours rather than blame somebody for something they might have little control on. The people we work with are highly complex. It is important however to understand that if you remove alcohol, drugs and chaos, you might still be left with a person who struggles with the activity presented on the wheel (for example issues with impulse control, or not making appointments). Meet Beryl to see how the team are preventing cost to people and our city, implementing methods for people to have better outcomes and better lives:

How Innovative is your initiative?

The homeless social work role is rare, and the team are leading a national peer network for the purpose to nationally galvanize on the collective knowledge, resources and skills of this area of social work to become a formidable force for impact and change – for people sleeping rough to have better outcomes and better lives! See further:

What are the key learning points?

A This month, this team featured in Community Care because of the potential of this initiative and the social work role in homelessness to be adopted across the country nationally.

See further:

Following this article, the team will be now feature in the British Association of Social Work journal in January 2024 as leads on the national peer network of the specialist homelessness social work role.

Additional Comments

Earlier this month, the Entrenched Rough Sleeper Social Work Team won the Team of the Year award at Manchester City Council’s annual Awards for Excellence celebration. Attached here are two case examples that demonstrate the team’s work and the impact it’s having on Manchester’s people.