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Westminster Blog: Make Every Adult Matter

Newbury MP Richard Benyon on helping people with particular and complex needs

Andy Murrill

Richard Benyon


01635 886625

Westminster Blog: Make Every Adult Matter

I had an enthralling morning at West Berkshire Council’s offices last week meeting with a wide group of organisations and agencies to find an innovative approach to helping people with particular and complex needs.

These are the multiple needs that often lie behind every case of homelessness.

They include drug and alcohol abuse, relationship breakdown and mental illness.

Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) is a part lottery funded national organisation that combines charities working with substance abuse, homelessness and those in the criminal justice system.

It brings together teams in areas like West Berkshire to focus like a laser beam on the few really challenging cases whose chaotic lives are in a spiral of decline.

Beyond the compassion we should all feel for these people there is the cost.

The cycle that takes them from rough sleeping to dependency on the NHS, to prison in a sort of revolving door of agencies means each case costs the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds.

With leadership from the council there is a groundswell of support in West Berkshire to help tackle homelessness and it’s good to see same level of care and concern amongst statutory bodies.

Our local police are particularly keen on this approach.

They are often the first on the scene and they know the rough sleeping community well.

The council's housing team are also determined to make this work.

Through their efforts many rough sleepers are found accommodation but, like all involved in this work, they find this hard-to-help group who need a more joined up approach.

Led by MEAM local network manager George Garrad, we looked at the barriers which make it so difficult for these individuals to access help here in West Berkshire and then at possible solutions.

Linda, from a London drug and alcohol charity called Build on Belief, talked about her years on the streets and how she survived a 32-year drug habit.

It was so powerful to hear how she felt then about 'the system' and how difficult it was to access help.

Good things that came out of the meeting: putting names to faces; networking – allowing people to see what else is out there; perhaps the start of a new way of working, more flexible, more immediate, more tailored to the complex issues that often lie behind cases of homelessness.

Watch this space and contact me via if you want to be involved.





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Article comments

  • EugeneStryker

    07/03/2017 - 11:11

    The Tories are now scrapping housing benefit for 18 - 21 year olds. Benyon and his party well know that this will have disastrous effects for some of the most vulnerable in society and they simply do not care. I do disagree with 'Spotted' on his Facebook comment - we must hear what Benyon has to say, because then we get to see what nasty and hypocritical politics he adheres to.


  • EugeneStryker

    06/03/2017 - 10:10

    When Benyon speaks on such matters it brings to mind a Nye Bevan quote: 'No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party'. There has been a 55% increase in homelessness since David Cameron came to power in 2010. Studies state welfare policies have emerged as the biggest single trigger for homelessness now the economy has recovered. Benyon has voted for the 'bedroom tax', voted against raising welfare benefits in line with prices, voted against paying higher benefits for the long term ill or disabled etc, etc. (let's not forget his 'bunch of charmers . . .' tweet or his involvement in the New Era Estate where NHS Nurses were going to be made homeless). Benyon also takes in about £625,000 from WBC in his tenants' housing benefit payments. Do not listen to Benyon, read up on his record to get the measure of the man.