More than £5m has been awarded to a charity to support vulnerable people in the North East.
The Big Lottery Fund has awarded £5.5m to Tyneside’s Changing Lives to improve and co-ordinate services which tackle the needs of people suffering from problems with mental health, addiction, reoffending and homelessness.
The multi-million-pound grant awarded to the charity, formerly known as the Cyrenians, is one of 11 to have been given out across the country.
Chief executive Stephen Bell OBE says the cash will be given over an eight-year period and will help secure nine or 10 jobs each year.
He said: “The Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives programme provides us with a unique opportunity to bring positive and long-lasting changes to the way in which we support some of the most vulnerable people in Newcastle and Gateshead.
“People experiencing a combination of mental health problems, homelessness and issues around addiction and offending often need help from a number of different services.
“These are usually commissioned and delivered separately so it’s often the person themselves who is left to link everything up. This leaves highly vulnerable people responsible for navigating complex systems of services which can be difficult, intimidating and time-consuming.
“Our vision is to ensure support services work better together and are developed to fit around the person.”
He added: “Clients have been at the heart of shaping this project from the beginning. Ultimately they have told us they need the system to be as simple as possible.
“Through their continued involvement, the partnership will ensure that Fulfilling Lives acts as a catalyst for positive, long-term change which helps people get a home, a job and look forward to a positive future.”
Over the eight-year investment, the Big Lottery Fund will work with Changing Lives to help deliver services in a way that will save in health and criminal justice costs.
Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England chair, said the investment will help vulnerable people receive the support they need. He said: “We’ve worked with a range of charities who tell us that currently the system is flawed - people are passed from pillar to post and the result is them rebounding in and out of A&E departments and criminal courts rather than being helped in an effective way by integrated support services.
“This £112m investment will end the revolving door of care for these vulnerable people and rather than being drains on society will allow them to become assets that benefit their communities and society as a whole.”