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More people to benefit after successful service expands

​A valuable service which gives vulnerable people additional support to get their lives back on track after they have been arrested has extended its hours after helping more than 6,250 people in just two years.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Liaison and Diversion Service offers support to people of all ages who are attending a police investigation centre, magistrates or crown court and have vulnerabilities such as mental health or substance misuse issues or learning disabilities.

Run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) alongside partners Julian Support and military charity Walking With The Wounded, it has proved so successful since its launch in April 2015 that NHS England has awarded it an additional £193,000 in funding to expand its service provision. The money is being spent recruiting additional staff so that the service provided in six police investigation centres across Norfolk and Suffolk can work between 8am and 7pm, seven-days-a-week.

The staff are responsible for quickly identifying people who could benefit from support and referring them as appropriate, with the aim of improving health and reducing the chance of re-offending in the future.

Those with a military background are referred to Walking With The Wounded’s Project Nova initiative, which aims to support veterans who have become caught up in a cycle of anti-social and criminal activity to prevent further downward spiral and continued offending by supporting them back into mainstream society and long term employment.

Ian Trenholm, NSFT’s Operational Lead for Liaison and Diversion, said: “The service has proved a huge success since its launch, with staff seeing more than 6,000 people within its first two years. Of those, around half were referred onto other services for the support they need to get their lives back on track, which is around double the national average.

“We were delighted to receive this additional funding to extend the service and recruit extra staff. Once in post, they will focus on making sure vulnerable people receive support as they move through the criminal justice system and into the right mental health or social care service, in turn reducing the likelihood they will reoffend or reach crisis point.”

Ben Curran, Head of Business Development with Julian Support, said: “The additional funding has meant that we have been able to recruit extra staff to provide cover when colleagues are on leave. This is critical in ensuring that the people we work with get the continuity of support that they desperately need, otherwise there is a real risk that they will end up back in the criminal justice system.”

Colin Back, Project Nova National Manager with Walking With The Wounded, said: “Our close working with NSFT’s Liaison and Diversion Service has been invaluable to our veteran community currently residing in Norfolk and Suffolk.

“The level of mental health expertise afforded by the teams to our ex-military veterans who have been arrested in Norfolk and Suffolk is second to none. When we receive the referral from the Liaison and Diversion team, we know exactly where the veteran is in relation to their mental health. This enables us to quickly set up a bespoke care plan to assist the veteran on his or her recovery journey and divert away from reoffending.

“The Liaison and Diversion team are always there for advice on the phone regarding the veteran and by working together we have vastly improved the quality of life and health of our veterans and reduced reoffending.”

As a result of close partnership working, Project Nova is now providing a bespoke domestic violence perpetrator course for veterans and has also introduced a family support worker to support the partners and children of veterans referred by the Liaison and Diversion team.

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