Spectrum is committed to providing healthcare services to all, including the most vulnerable in society. Working across the health in justice, substance misuse and sexual health arenas we strive to go above and beyond to identify unmet needs, address barriers to access, and challenge stigma and exclusion in our communities.

Since 2011 we’ve delivered a range of projects that have engaged with people facing health inequalities, such as our West Yorkshire: Finding Independence (WI-FI ) project which used a team of caring ‘navigators’ to help vulnerable adults to escape cycles of exclusion and poor health.

The WY-FI Project

In 2014, Spectrum became part of the West Yorkshire: Finding Independence (WY-FI) Project – a partnership network providing practical and emotional support for vulnerable adults. Service users working with WY-FI often experience multiple areas of disadvantage and health inequality (including homelessness, addiction, reoffending and mental ill health) and face many barriers in accessing mainstream support services.

Between 2014 and 2019, our WY-FI Navigators supported over 170 vulnerable adults in Wakefield – helping them to register for healthcare services, access secure housing and tenancies, complete probation orders and receive treatment for substance use and mental ill health. Some WY-FI service users go on to access volunteering through the Project, become Peer Mentors for WY-FI or gradually leave the service as they become more independent. Since June 2020, Spectrum has led this local project and rebranded as Wakefield WY-FI.

WY-FI service user

Ann* was a complex client referred to Wakefield WY-FI for extra support in engaging with Housing, Addiction, Probation and Mental Health services. When she first came to WY-FI, she was facing several challenges:

Homelessness: After being released from prison, Ann was housed in unsecure, short-term emergency accommodation. She was not engaging well with the Housing Needs team and was struggling to pay bills.
Addiction: Although she was receiving local support for substance misuse, Ann was only engaging sporadically with her Key Worker and was still using drugs
Reoffending: Ann served a custodial sentence for arson but after release, she only engaged sporadically with her Probation worker.
Mental Health: Despite having a brain injury and a history of traumatic abuse, Ann was not in contact with mental health services.

To resolve these challenges, our WY-FI Navigators in Wakefield began to work with Ann intensively, offering frequent 1:1 support to help with her mental health and housing needs.

Navigators worked with Ann’s Housing support staff to help her find appropriate accommodation and supported her to set up payment plans and keep on top of her utility bills. WY-FI Navigators also encouraged Ann to make new appointments and re-engage with substance misuse services, and she has almost completely stopped using drugs. She is engaging regularly with her Probation worker and her probation order will be complete in just a few months.

Ann is now making excellent progress and has expressed an interest in attending local Wellbeing groups for women and in volunteering at our charity project, Appletree Garden.

*name changed to respect the privacy of our service user