CASS+ worked with 77 clients during January, we have noticed that the courts have seemed quieter over the last few weeks, also people may have been put off attending the drop in with the Winter weather, not to mention all of the bugs that have been doing the rounds.
50 males comprised 13 defendants (on the day), 3 victims, 22 currently in touch with the Criminal Justice System, 5 clients who were re-engaging with CASS and 6 drop ins.
27 females comprised 4 defendants (on the day), 8 victims, 7 currently involved with the Criminal Justice System, 4 clients who were re-engaging with CASS and 4 drop ins.
16 were first time clients of CASS.
1 referral was from community court, 5 referrals from non-community courts, 3 from probation, 2 from solicitors, 2 word of mouth and 2 were from external agencies.
A minimum of 11 additional clients were helped without the need to complete a contact form. There were 54 clients this month that identified themselves with mental illness, 8 with learning difficulties and 9 with physical difficulties.
We would like to welcome Shirley who started volunteering with us this month on Fridays, and we have also recruited an Assistant Coordinator, Karen, who will assist with the new Newton Abbot project. Karen has been volunteering at the Plymouth site for a while now so is very familiar with how we work at CASSPLUS.
Clients issues and referrals made to support clients to resolve these issues.
Issues raised and where referred to: Family
|Family Law Clinic||1||1|
|Assist in Family court||1|
Issues raised and where referred to: Criminal Justice
|Assistance with means form||4|
|Assist in court||1|
|Victim Liaison Officer||1||1|
|Criminal Compensation Board||2||2|
Issues raised and where referred to: Drugs
Issues raised and where referred to: Alcohol
Issues raised and where referred to: Debt
|Newton Abbot CASS+||1||1|
|Moorcroft Debt Recovery||1||1|
|Frontline Network Forum||1||1|
|Plymouth City Council||1||1|
|South West Water||3||3|
CASS+ continues to see clients on a daily basis regarding debt related issues; often this is time consuming and involves a lot of evidencing circumstances and support with negotiating payment plans.
We are currently supporting a client who needs to file for bankruptcy, however this will cost £680 to do. Despite applications to various charities etc. we are unable to help with funds for this and he clearly cannot pay for this himself. The client is being inundated by calls and letters from debtors despite the situation being made clear to them. This situation has become incredibly stressful for the client and, whilst we continue to explore other options alongside liaising with a number of services, we are struggling to find a solution. CASS+ does not like to give up on a client and so we will continue to research available support. However, this is extremely time consuming, with little hope of resolution. In the meantime, we would deem this client at high risk of re-offending.
Issues raised and where referred to: Benefits
|HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service)||1||1|
|P.I.P enquiries (Personal Independence Payments)||1||1|
|DWP (Department of Work and Pensions)||1||1|
|E.S.A. (Employment Support Allowance) enquiries||1||1|
|Independent Assessment Service||1||1|
|Assist with form||3|
Issues raised and where referred to: Fines
Issues raised and where referred to: Accommodation
|First Stop Shop||3||3|
|Leonard Stocks Hostel||1||1|
|PATH (Plymouth Access to Housing)||1||1|
|Exeter City Council||1||1|
|St. Petrock’s- Exeter||1||1|
|Plymouth Community Homes||1||1|
|First Stop Shop||1||1|
|Newton Abbot CASS+||1||1|
|Assist with form||1|
We often have referrals from cells for people who are homeless and not necessarily local so we are getting quite good at sign posting out of area; we have found this knowledge helpful for our new service in Newton Abbot.
Issues raised and where referred to: Mental Health
|Plymouth Community Mental Health Team||1||1|
|PDAS (Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service)||1||1|
We are all too familiar with clients who come in who are at ‘crisis point’ , their personal situations may have become so extreme that they don’t know where to turn, and often they can’t think clearly. We find that when people come in and ‘offload’ it can help for them to talk through their concerns, we can present some options or just a “listening ear”. CASS+ are always happy to provide this support, it may seem trivial to some people but can often make all the difference in a desperate situation. We usually ask people when they leave the office if they are feeling better , and we have had feedback such as” I don’t know what I would have done”
“My head was going to explode”.
We consider it an essential part of what we do to take the time for people as in some cases they have no one to talk to, and this may avoid a situation escalating.
It is important to recognise that volunteers/ students can find some of these conversations challenging and often time consuming, staff are on hand to support around this, and we are encouraging team members to access training as and when it is available to us. We are often working with clients in this manner as they are not always able to access the mental Health support that they need because of the waiting lists etc.
Issues raised and where referred to: Physical Health
|DIAC (Disability Information and Advice Service)||1||1|
|SEAP (Independent Advocacy Service)||1||1|
Issues raised and where referred to: Domestic Abuse
Issues raised and where referred to: Education, Training and Employment.
Issues raised and where referred to: Miscellaneous
|Going, Going, Gone||1||1
|Torquay Police Station||1||1|
CASS+ is operating in the Community (CJSSS) Court every Thursday, please feel free to refer defendants for a problem solve prior to their sentencing, we will be happy to help. Many thanks to those Magistrates/DJ who have raised referrals to CASS+ post-sentence.
We were pleased to have a visit from Sally, a Magistrate in Plymouth, who spent time talking to Carole and the team about the offender journey after they have been referred to us. We were able to talk about the sort of work that we get involved in and the time that can be spent with individual clients. The team would be happy to attend any Magistrates’ events to expand on this, or to accommodate similar visits in the future.
Case Study 1:
B is a 20-year-old female who self-referred to the office on 5 January. She has previously been a client of CASSPLUS but did not engage well at that time. We were told that she had not received any benefits since November, as her claim had been cancelled due to non-attendance at ‘signing on’ appointments. As her court fines were paid via benefit deductions, she asked if she could get a payment card, as she was aware she would be in arrears. She then left the office. Staff contacted the fines department on her behalf, who were unable to issue a card as the whole amount of arrears (£770+) needed to be paid. They suggested that B contact them directly, after reinstating her benefit claim, as unless an arrangement was made before 10 January a distress warrant would be issued. Staff tried to contact B on the number that was given but she hung up on the call.
On 8 January, B came to the office again saying that she needed ID to start a new benefit claim but had none, and no means of paying for a new birth certificate. A telephone message was left for her probation officer (who does not work on a Monday) asking if she could assist with this. B was also advised to prioritise her call to fines. She told staff that she was due in court later in the week.
On 19 January staff tried to contact B for a first follow up, and to see if she had organised a payment plan, ID, and to see what the outcome of her court hearing was. Her phone was not taking calls. On 22 January a second attempt to contact was made – phone still not taking calls – possibly due to not having credit. On 23 January a call was made to her probation officer who advised that B’s court appearance was for a breach, due to non-engagement with her probation order. The order was revoked and replaced by a suspended sentence with no requirements – meaning that B was now closed to the probation service. A third attempt was made to ring B but her phone was still not taking calls.
B is clearly a chaotic young woman, with a pattern of non-engagement with services. However, the fact that her probation order was revoked and replaced with a suspended sentence, even though her means form would have clearly shown she has fines outstanding and is not currently in receipt of any benefits, is likely to result in, at best, the issue of a distress warrant, and at worst further offending. This will result in the suspended sentence order being activated, and a period in custody, which unfortunately seems unlikely to improve either her life circumstances, or her patterns of behaviour.
For some clients; the timings of interventions alongside their other life circumstances and associated chaos, need to be better aligned before they are ready or indeed willing to accept the range of offers from all agencies, however well co-ordinated they are! We are not there to judge when the time is right, it is the responsibility of the individual, and so we can only hope that better management of her situation will come at some point in the future.
Karen Bond – Assistant Coordinator.
Case Study 2
Client S (50) was referred to us by probation, he was previously known to our service. Diagnosed with a number of physical and mental health problems:
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Lung Cancer
We know that he has been a drug user for much of his life; this has been his way of coping with historic childhood sexual abuse.
Previously we had referred client S to Rethink Community Services and Harbour for support, he did well whilst with his Rethink support worker. Sadly, when the support ended he became distressed and started to struggle with day to day life, culminating in him reoffending.
Whilst in court, client S called into the office for help with his means form and was given a Community sentence on the day, which at least provided him with some support. We also gave details for Operation Emotion to assist with counselling around the abuse, however this has never been something that he has acted upon. We have kept in contact with client S since; he has also called in for assistance with his benefits and talked about some of his difficulties. However, he will more often than not respond to advice given by saying “ I haven’t got time to do that”.
This case study demonstrates the importance of consistent and extended support that clients often require. Furthermore, it highlights the difficulty that some people face when trying to access appropriate Mental Health services and how they might fall through the net. It is often difficult for clients to make changes in their behaviour as this may be all they know; much easier to fall into a negative but familiar pattern. We try to initiate other ways of tackling difficulties but ultimately the choice lies with the client. Sometimes they go around in circles before realising what they are doing is not working, and sometimes they sadly never make the changes, but CASS+ won’t give up trying to help with this using supportive and motivational techniques.
Megan (student) and Liz (Plymouth Coordinator)
Plymouth Coordinator’s networking
3rd and 4th January Operational Support in Newton Abbot CASS+ office
Liz and Christine (admin worker) spent two days in Newton Abbot supporting Peter (Newton Abbot coordinator). We are now open on Wednesdays and Thursdays at this site, please feel free to refer any clients that you feel could do with some support. Also if anybody would be interested in volunteering at the new office please let us know.
9th January- Development and Board meeting- Plymouth Casino
CASS+ staff and Trustees met for a full day to review our journey over the last year, and to explore our business planning for the next year. This workshop was followed by a Board meeting in the afternoon.
10th and 11th January- Mental Health Treatment Requirement (MHTR) Training- facilitated by Dr. Mike Scanlan at Mount Batten Centre
Liz and Caroline (volunteer) attended this excellent two day training to promote our knowledge and understanding of the new MHTR community sentence which is being piloted in Plymouth. This training was well attended by a number of partners across the city and we definitely came away feeling that we had learnt some new skills for our practice.
17th January- Pathfinders meeting at Shekinah 24
Opportunity to network and see how we can better manage joined up working. We also had a chance to hear a bit about the Make Amends Service (Restorative Justice), and PLUS – Work and Health programme.
18th January- Mental Health Network Meeting- Wolseley Trust.
We had a general update from around the room which helped us all to learn about some new services and what is happening to support people with Mental health issues. We had presentations from
- Claire Hill (Improving Lives) on the new General Data Protection Regulation; this will come into force in May 2018
- Claire Turbett (Advanced Public Health Practitioner) on Warwick/ Edinburgh Mental Health Scale, we were asked for some comment and discussion on scales being used.
19th January- Interviews for Assistant Coordinator
We were pleased to interview volunteer candidates for casual working within our teams. Karen will be helping us by supporting existing co-ordinators and by working flexible hours across Plymouth and Newton Abbot as we develop additional services. This is a time limited role which we hope to extend according to funds.
24th January – Plymouth Frontline Network Meeting at Hamoaze House
Liz and Derrick (volunteer) attended this meeting which raised some interesting conversations around Emergency Housing in Plymouth. Discussion was lead by representatives from BCHA and PCC. There are currently 44 households in B and B’s across Plymouth, in some cases this is a whole family. Care leavers were also raised and how many struggle with tenancies and need some robust support to help them to manage their accommodation.
29th January- shadowing
Peter Hatfield (Newton Abbot coordinator) shadowed the Plymouth CASS+ office to see how we work.
30th January- Adult Safeguarding Training
Carole and Liz updated their Adult Safe Guarding Training at The Guild Hall, we found this training to be most informative; interesting how different terminology is now being used- e.g. no longer ‘vulnerable person’ but ‘has needs of care and support .’ I would highly recommend this free half day training; it was interactive and raised some interesting points, alongside some ‘hard hitting’ video clips.
Please feel free to get in touch with us if you wish to discuss anything about CASSPLUS or our reports.
Our details are:
Carole Edwards- General Manager – [email protected]
Liz Hand- Plymouth CASS Co-ordinator- [email protected]