How a report into five men’s deaths in Calderdale is ‘delivering massive change’

A report into the deaths of five Calderdale men living street-based lives has galvanised a Calderdale’s approach into how people who fall into homelessness are helped.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 7:30 am

The harrowing report into the men’s deaths over the winter of 2018-2019 is a major item outlined in Calderdale Safeguarding Adults Board’s (CSAB) annual report.

The board’s independent chair, Marianne Huison, commenting on the annual report as a whole, said there was a need to reduce inequalities moving ahead, with a focus on “every adult matters”.

One issue brought out in the Burnt Bridges report into the men’s deaths was the need to focus on trauma that played a part in people living their lives in that way and make changes in the way partners including health and housing organisations responded to it, Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board heard.

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Calderdale Safeguarding Adults Board independent chair, Marianne Huison

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A holistic approach was now being taken by partners to deal with often complex issues, treating the whole person, with them only having to tell their story once rather than to each organisation involved in their lives, said Ms Huison.

Helen Hunter of Healthwatch said the changes were a much more respectful way of dealing with people who had experienced trauma and are vulnerable and it was important to see how that strategic objective fed into the work.

Coun Ashley Evans (Lib Dem, Warley) agreed there was a need to tackle inequalities and asked if this had led to an increase in people living street-based lives and what actions were being taken.

Safeguarding partnerships manager Julia Caldwell said the Burnt Bridges report had been the biggest driver of change and now reports came through on a daily basis.

Ms Huison said Calderdale did not have particularly large numbers of people living street based lives when compared to other places but the five men’s deaths in such a short space of time had really challenged how things were done.

“It has delivered massive change already – there are people with ‘eyes on’ them on a daily basis,” she said.

Ms Huison said the situation had improved massively in the past 18 months, including providing accommodation and “safe places.”

Calderdale Council’s Director of Adult Services and Wellbeing, Iain Baines, said although it was not to say it would eradicate poverty completely, “it has been one of the most significant pieces of safeguarding work and it has really shifted practice, we have daily eyes on people.”

The CSAB has a legal responsibility to ensure agencies work together to protect adults at risk.

The annual report highlighted challenges brought by the pandemic and the success of an innovative approach to safely discharging patients back into care homes in Calderdale.

“Due to swift and decisive implementation of protective measures throughout Calderdale, comparatively speaking, we have seen fewer deaths in care homes than would have been anticipated, though we regard any death as one too many,” said Ms Huison.

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