Framework campaigns to change Troubled Lives

09 Apr 2015
by Neil Skinner

Five simple policy changes could revolutionise support for people whose lives have been blighted by multiple and complex needs – that’s the focus of a campaign launched by Framework today.

Framework has helped tens of thousands of homeless and vulnerable people over the last 40 years(1).  But it has grown increasingly concerned about the numbers of people living what it calls Troubled Lives – those experiencing combinations of mental ill-health, substance misuse, reoffending and homelessness.

...far from being a lost cause, the most challenging and excluded people in our communities can be helped if the right support is in place.

Framework Chief Executive Andrew Redfern

Based on this experience, and recently published research, Framework Chief Executive Andrew Redfern is urging the adoption of five simple, affordable and achievable national policy changes to reduce the huge social and economic costs associated with people living Troubled Lives.

The Simple Change for Troubled Lives campaign, launched on Thursday to influence thinking up to and beyond the 2015 General Election, proposes five simple changes that, taken together, would help people leading Troubles Lives and reduce their cost to the rest of society. The Five Actions(2) are:

  1. Support people with multiple and complex needs using tried and tested solutionsa Troubled Lives Programme similar to the existing Trouble Families Programme
  2. Amend the rules on access to social and health care to stop excluding this groupthe Guidance to the Care Act must make it clear that they are included
  3. Invest in specialist housing for those who need it by designating part of the Homes and Communities Agency’s existing capital programme
  4. Make welfare work for people living Troubled Livesa Work Programme Plus for those facing many barriers to work
  5. Join up policy where it affects people living Troubled Livesby thinking about the impact on this group before decisions are made.

Framework is seeking cross-party agreement on a centrally directed but locally implemented Troubled Lives Strategy based around these Five Actions – led by the introduction of a Troubled Lives programme to mirror the already successful Troubled Families Programme.

Framework is writing to every Parliamentary candidate in the country and aims to continue building support for the proposals over the coming weeks and in the months beyond the General Election.

The campaign is led by Framework’s Chief Executive Andrew Redfern who explained: “Framework has a responsibility to speak up for those we support who are unable to speak for themselves. Now and into the future we will be delivering a very clear message to our elected representatives that, far from being a lost cause, the most challenging and excluded people in our communities can be helped if the right support is in place.

“I have worked with homeless, vulnerable and excluded people for most of my professional life, and have grown increasingly concerned about the circumstances of those who come to us – often on numerous occasions – who are living Troubled Lives. These are people whose potential is being wasted; men and women from a wide range of backgrounds trapped in mutually destructive cycles of homelessness, offending, mental ill-health and substance abuse.

“Recent research(3) indicates that there more than 220,000 people in England who experience two or more of these conditions and around 60,000 people whose lives are troubled by three or four of these conditions.  Set against a population of nearly 60 million this may seem a relatively small number, but we simply cannot ignore the significant and complex needs of this group of people any longer.  Apart from the appalling human cost of such lifestyles there is a substantial cost to society – to the NHS, the criminal justice system and other statutory agencies who are now picking up the pieces left by decades of policy failure. It’s money down the drain that could surely be better spent helping to bring about positive and lasting change.

“With the evidence in, now is the time for action.  So the reference to a Troubled Lives programme in the 2014 Autumn Statement was encouraging.  A more detailed statement in the 2015 Budget confirmed the government’s aspiration to improve the help offered to people with multiple and complex needs.  The opposition’s endorsement of a report containing a similar proposal leads me to hope and believe there is now cross party agreement on this. 

“However a Troubled Lives programme is not sufficient to tackle the various dimensions of this problem on its own.  To reduce the need for a special programme in the future, a Troubled Lives Strategy is needed: Framework’s proposals for Five Actions are the key components around which to build it.

“The Five Actions have arisen from our front-line experience of what works: they are our informed and action-focused response to the emerging agenda.  Their impact is complementary and cumulative; they are not a menu of options from which to choose.  We describe them as simple because they build on existing policy and practice and would require little or no Parliamentary time.

“The growing interest in this issue is welcome, as are the important commitments that have been made.  We urge all parliamentary candidates to consider these proposals and we seek their support.  We ask voters to present the case for this approach to those who would be their elected representatives. 

“Adoption and implementation of a Troubled Lives Strategy by the next government will be a major step in public service reform.  A wealth of supporting evidence, expert knowledge and practical skills is available for it to draw upon.  I hope that 2015 will be the year in which we begin acting decisively together to help people living troubled lives.”        

Case study

Vince, 48, is somebody who lived a Troubled Life for around 30 years. He has now completely changed his life and is working full time to help homeless people in Nottinghamshire. He explained why he is supporting the campaign:

Vince has lived a Troubled Life

“My problems have been around homelessness, persistent reoffending, substance misuse and mental illness. My offending started at a very young age and altogether I have served 17 or 18 prison sentences in total which have had a very detrimental impact on my life.

“These kinds of problems are linked almost like a domino effect in a person’s life and it’s just a downward spiral from there. The cost of my problems on society has also been massive. I have cost the court service, the mental health service, and society in general.”

Vince explained why he proved so hard to help: “It’s difficult to help people like me because we’ve not just got one problem – we’ve got a multitude of problems so breaking that cycle is very hard. Because there was no integrated services it just caused me to flip from one service to the next – never quite putting the pieces of the jigsaw together and keeping that cycle going.”


1) Framework was created in July 2001 following the merger of two Nottingham-based homelessness charities established in the 1970s.

(2) More information on these proposals can be found below. Additional rationales and costings are available on request.

(3) Recent major research studies include LankellyChase Foundation: Hard Edges Mapping severe and multiple disadvantage (2015).

For more information


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