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Jumping through hoops: How are coordinated responses to multiple disadvantage meeting the needs of women?

In 2017, Agenda and AVA published Mapping the Maze, which provided a broad picture of the support that homelessness, substance misuse, mental health and criminal justice services are providing to women.

This report explores the experiences of local areas across the country that are seeking to bring such services together to develop a more coordinated response for individuals facing multiple disadvantage, either using the MEAM Approach or as part of the Big Lottery’s Fulfilling Lives programme.

The focus of this work tends to be on the practical coordination of homelessness, substance misuse, mental health and criminal justice services, alongside a commitment to ensuring that all relevant agencies in the area offer flexible service responses.

A minority of the beneficiaries in these local areas are women. While there has been progress on gender and trauma informed approaches across the sectors mentioned, little is known about how general services in these areas are responding to women’s needs or how women-specific services, such as domestic and sexual violence services, are involved in coordinated approaches.

This small-scale research report explores these issues and seeks to answer the following three questions:

1. Is there a good understanding in these areas of the experiences and support needs of women experiencing multiple disadvantage and how these needs differ from men?

2. To what extent is good practice in supporting women with multiple disadvantage being followed in these areas?

3. What is the impact of a more coordinated approach and what do services/systems need to do to improve support for women experiencing multiple disadvantage?

By exploring these questions, we expect this report to help to improve practice across MEAM Approach and Fulfilling Lives areas and to ensure that women receive the support they need.