This project, run by Certitude, is designed to bridge the gap between the Somali community and mainstream services in Lambeth. In particular the service helps people with a range of health and social issues that are affecting them and their families. The service has two full-time outreach staff who are themselves Somali. They are in a position to understand some of the language, migration and cultural difficulties people bring and offer advice, advocacy and sign-posting. The service acts as a bridge between housing providers, local authority and health services, benefits agencies, utility companies, educational bodies and other voluntary organisations. The goal is to support people who may come with a complex set of issues to become part of the wider community and gain the confidence to lead more independent lives.
Mr Askar, 49, was referred to the project by some family members after a period of homelessness and mental health problems. His mental health problems were exacerbated by social isolation, he lacked immigration documents and had poor physical health. Language was a major barrier to Mr Askar finding out about and accessing services and support. Firstly, the project worker found him a place in a hostel and helped him to deal with his immigration status. Mr Askar was then supported to find a suitable GP to help with his mental and physical health problems and was given information in Somali on mental health and wellbeing.
The project worker signposted him to some suitable community activities to help him to address his social isolation. When welfare benefits were investigated, they discovered that because of his health Mr Askar was entitled to Employment Support Allowance. Through having continual support and advocacy, Mr Askar was able to find accommodation through Lambeth Choice Based Lettings. He was supported in initial meetings with the housing officer and helped to understand his new tenancy agreement. Furniture was obtained through a local charity and Mr Askar successfully applied for housing and council tax benefits. Now he is settled in a home of his own, Mr Askar is taking up training, volunteering and educational opportunities the project has signposted him to. His confidence in using English and in communicating has improved since he took up a local ESOL course.
This example was originally published in 'No assumptions: A narrative for personalised, coordinated care and support in mental health'.