Now is the time for Simple Change on Troubled Lives

20 Apr 2015
by Andrew Redfern

Mental ill-health, problematic substance misuse, repeat offending and homelessness would each challenge any of us: for the estimated 60,000 people in England whose lives are troubled by three or more of these experiences they amount to multiple and complex needs.

The cost to those affected, the communities in which they live, and society as a whole, is high.

At Framework – a specialist charity and housing association – we work with more than 11,000 vulnerable, homeless and excluded people across the East Midlands each year. We have grown increasingly concerned about the circumstances of those who come to us who are living lives troubled by multiple and complex needs.

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.


Vince is an example of someone who has experienced multiple needs. He talks candidly about his experiences in this video.

Such is our concern that Framework’s Board has asked me to lead a campaign to achieve effective help for those in greatest need in our land. Simple Change for Troubled Lives is our response.

The moment is right. Excellent research studies have recently been published; successful pilot programmes have taken place, and proven templates exist for a national strategy. Now is the time tor action.


Stuart was trapped in a cycle of offending, homelessness and mental ill-health. He is supporting Simple Change because he knows the measures proposed would have helped him sooner.

At Framework our front line experience shows what needs to be done, so our campaign subtitle is Five Actions for Effective Help. Taken together, these Five Actions are the building blocks of a robust, joined-up strategy: we call our actions Simple Changes because they build on existing policy and practice. They are:

  1. Support people with multiple and complex needs through a Troubled Lives programme
  2. Amend the rules and guidance to the Care Act so people with multiple and complex needs are no longer excluded
  3. Invest in specialist housing for those who need it
  4. Make welfare work for this group of people – a Work Programme Plus
  5. Join up policy where it affects people living troubled lives.

The first Action refers to a proposal for a Troubled Lives programme which appeared in the 2014 Autumn Statement and again in the 2015 Budget. This is to be warmly welcomed but is not sufficient to tackle the problem: to do that requires a strategy integrating all five actions.

We hope that the incoming government, with cross party support, will adopt such a strategy. For this to happen policy makers must be convinced of the case – so the public at large are asked to make their views known – especially at a time when those who would be our elected representatives are seeking support.

We hope you will join Framework’s campaign and support the cause of Simple Change for Troubled Lives. I shall be writing to all parliamentary candidates, to government departments, to local authorities, the media and many others. Anyone can get involved via the dedicated website where our full Proposal can be downloaded; you can find out how to contact your parliamentary candidates and register your support.

Will you help the most vulnerable in our communities?

*Andrew Redfern is Chief Executive of Framework

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