Photo credit: Andrew Aitchison
The Liaison and Diversion team at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust has been recognised locally and nationally for its work supporting vulnerable people to keep away from the criminal justice system. Having won a silver award in the Trust’s own awards in November, the team went on to scoop a national award at the Howard League for Penal Reform annual Community Awards the same month. On Thursday 31 January the team took home a ‘Mental Health Star’ award at the Thrive Mental Health Commission Awards, organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority.
The team assesses vulnerable people who have been arrested, providing support in the community and diversion away from the criminal justice system where appropriate. It’s been at the forefront of three successful national pilots, including employing people with lived experience of the criminal justice system and complex needs.
Priding itself on helping those who are most in need and marginalised in society, the team has developed an approach to successfully engage vulnerable people with complex needs including mental health conditions, homelessness, substance or alcohol use, learning disabilities and criminality. Service users often report how vital the team’s role has been in aiding their recovery and supporting them away from a life of criminality.
The team advocates for people who have often committed serious crimes, ensuring they keep a focus on the person behind the act and not label the person themselves. Only through this attitude and belief that people need support and help to change, can a difference really be achieved. Close working between the team, commissioners and partner agencies are vital, including a successful peer mentor scheme, pathway working with Anawim, Shelter and No Wrong Door, and being chosen as a pilot site to implement the Mental Health Treatment Requirement. The team has worked tirelessly to promote its services, build links, create pathways, achieve better outcomes and tackle stigma.
Liaison and Diversion was one of seven finalists from the Trust at the Thrive Awards.