Nowhere To Go: Mental health support for rough sleepers

A new team of mental health professionals is reaching out to help people living on the streets and others who are facing homelessness in Leeds. The Specialist Therapeutic Outreach Team is part of Forward Leeds, the city’s alcohol and drug service.

Operational Manager at Forward Leeds, Anne Hobbs, said:

“Our workers are there for the most vulnerable people in our city – those who have both mental and physical health problems as well as alcohol and drug misuse problems.

“Many of those living on the streets in Leeds have suffered multiple traumas in the past. People may be familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but trauma can also lead to depression, self-harm, alcohol and drug misuse, psychosis, relationship difficulties, dissociation, suicidal thoughts and an increased risk of poor physical health.”

She said those affected had difficulty engaging or staying engaged with the services that were able to meet their needs. The workers are trained to understand these issues and now work with individuals to improve their lives and help them to recover from substance misuse issues with Forward Leeds.

The team works alongside already established Safer Leeds Street Support Team and other support services in the city to ensure collaborative and streamlined working, with the full intention of bringing about positive change for this vulnerable client group.

Trauma-informed care is about creating the conditions to improve people’s treatment. A person’s past experience of trauma can affect the way they react to experiences in the present. Everyday situations can be very distressing, leading them to behave in ways that could appear aggressive or overly defensive.


This post is one of a series of articles about homelessness, hearing people’s real experiences of live on the streets and ‘sofa surfing’ and find out about services that are trying to help people in crisis. 

This post is based on a press release issued by Forward Leeds

Photo: Trauma Informed Mental Health Practitioners Marlisse Elliott and Matt Hanson