We want to pursue a problem solving approach, and we have therefore developed a theory of change to underpin our work. This is a ‘live’ document, and will evolve over time as our learning deepens, and is an attempt to answer the questions below.
We identify three types of change that we are trying to achieve: systemic, structural and cultural. We will prioritise systemic change initially, but over time a deepening understanding of structural and cultural change will help us to start redefining what good looks like, particularly with testimony from people themselves about what would make their lives better.
Lankelly Chase is committed to using its independence and resources to promote change that can improve the quality of life of people on the extreme margins of society who are most exposed to social harm. Our particular focus is on people who are least well served by existing responses to disadvantage, and who therefore find themselves at greatest risk of punitive and coercive interventions. Most often, these are people who face multiple disadvantages simultaneously, such as mental illness, homelessness, violence and abuse, drug misuse and extreme poverty.
Because this problem is deeply systemic, people who face severe and multiple disadvantage continue to be failed even when policies and services are explicitly targeted at those who are most disadvantaged.
Although systems and services play a very active role in driving poor outcomes for this group, they are not solely responsible. Services can only respond to the symptoms of more deep-seated structural disadvantage. This includes entrenched inequality, discrimination, market exclusion, social fragmentation, individualism, and stigmatisation of outsiders. Arguably those on the extreme margins are standing where social fault lines converge. Service responses are not designed to contend with or bring about the deep social and attitudinal change that is needed.
Finally, those on the margins are also disadvantaged by the collective failure to acknowledge or promote their capabilities. Services that are designed to meet someone’s needs rarely support their capacity for creativity, enterprise, contribution and personal enrichment. This amounts to a denial of the humanity and dignity of marginalised people, underpinned by a utilitarian assumption that value can be measured in terms of cost, risk and harm.
The lives of people who face severe and multiple disadvantage are often characterised by a vicious cycle of exclusion followed by excluded behaviour followed by further exclusion. This can render people in this situation very hard to help, even in the rare circumstance when solutions are available, and it certainly makes them publicly and politically unpopular. As a result, our society spends far more on containing and punishing people in this situation than on alleviating the disadvantage itself.
Our Hard Edges report delivers the latest and most comprehensive statistics on people facing severe and multiple disadvantage: where they live, what their lives are like, how effectively they are supported by services, and the economic implications of the disadvantages they face.
The research reveals the true extent of overlap between the homeless, offender and drug misusing populations. It shows that as children, many experienced trauma and neglect, poverty, family breakdown and disrupted education. As adults, many suffer alarming levels of loneliness, isolation, unemployment, poverty and mental ill-health. All of these experiences are considerably worse for those in overlapping populations.
Many of those interviewed, with lived experience of multiple disadvantage showed that the current services on offer failed to address the overlap and so failed to deal the person as an individual, perpetuating their sense of isolation.