WY-FI Project

West Yorkshire – Finding Independence | Supporting people with multiple needs


Surviving in a Revolving Door

Without the right support, people with multiple needs are likely to recirculate from custody to crisis and back to custody, trapped in a revolving door.

‘Surviving in a Revolving Door’ is the second report from year seven of West Yorkshire Finding Independence. The report focuses on how people experiencing multiple needs are high intensity users of the criminal justice system, and that without the right support, they will potentially recirculate from custody to crisis and back to custody.  

The report recommends improvements to direct support for people with multiple needs, including consistent risk assessments, community-based alternatives to custody and sustainable accommodation.

It also calls for more strategic leadership, at a West Yorkshire level through the Integrated Care Strategy, Public Health Directors, the West Yorkshire Housing Network and the Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner. This leadership should include the voice of lived experience.

Finally, the report asks for a public health approach, incorporating planned pathways through multiple services and the development of trauma informed practice across services.

Mark Burns-Williamson, the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner in West Yorkshire says, “This report makes for impactful reading, however, it does more than simply reinforce  what we already know about the way we continue to fail those with multiple and complex needs. Instead it offers practical ways we can take this cohort off the “too hard to do” pile, and reverse the status quo by putting them at the top of our list of priorities”.

Mark goes onto say, “working together to provide bespoke, integrated and timely support which is based on individual need can be efficient and effective, keep people out of the Criminal Justice Process, and of course ultimately, make a real and lasting positive difference to many lives.”

WY-FI has based its report on detailed analysis of the experiences of beneficiaries whilst they were on caseload with the project. This analysis has looked in detail at their reoffending and other needs on entry into WY-FI, how long they were on caseload, the services they used in relation to their needs and their outcomes and exits.

The data and evidence used was gathered by WY-FI between June 2014 – May 2020, when it was providing direct support to more than 820 people with multiple needs from across West Yorkshire.

The report also includes peer research, with focus groups taking place across West Yorkshire to gather insight on multiple needs, and in particular reoffending.

‘Surviving in a Revolving Door’ is the second in a series of reports that WY-FI s producing for the National Lottery Community Fund Fulfilling Lives Programme and the West Yorkshire Office of Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).


WY-FI ETE takes forward legacy in a new partnership with West Yorkshire Liaison and Diversion Service

The West Yorkshire Finding Independence (WY-FI) Education, Training and Employment (ETE) Team are pursuing a new partnership in collaboration with West Yorkshire Liaison and Diversion Service. 

The pilot will give the ETE team, which will continue to be delivered by Touchstone, the opportunity to continue supporting people with multiple needs, as part of the West Yorkshire Liaison and Diversion (L&D) service.

This service provides support for people in contact with the criminal justice system who have mental health, learning disability, substance misuse or other needs.

The multi-agency Liaison and Diversion Team, comprising specialist staff from West Yorkshire Police, women’s services, substance misuse services, youth justice and mental health services, works with people at various stages of their journeys through the criminal justice system. 

They will now have the option of obtaining specialist ETE opportunities and pathways into work. They’ll be referred to the former WY-FI team for ongoing one to one and group support, which is aimed at diverting them away from future contact with the criminal justice system.

Support will include the accredited Peer Mentor training that the ETE team developed during their time with WY-FI. There will also be new pathways created for people to progress towards a variety of volunteering and paid roles. 

WY-FI supported more than 400 people with a range of ETE needs between 2014 and 2020, as part of the National Lottery Community Fund’s Fulfilling Lives programme.

The pilot has created a great opportunity for the former WY-FI ETE team to be part of a lasting legacy for The WY-FI Project, ensuring that people in West Yorkshire with multiple needs continue to get the right support to achieve their education, training and employment goals.


Alternatives to prison can improve outcomes for women with multiple needs – a new report from WY-FI

Keeping a face for the world’ is a new report from West Yorkshire Finding Independence. The report focuses on women with multiple needs, considering how custodial sentences have affected women’s journeys through WY-FI. The report also considers how COVID-19 has influenced the recovery of women.

Read/download the Executive Summary report

Read/download the full report

The report recommendations that alternatives to prison should be prioritised, especially in the case of lesser offences or recall, where there is no threat to people. These alternatives gives women more opportunities to access community-based support to sustain their recovery and ensures the best possible outcomes for them. They also help to reduce the costs to public services, including the criminal justice system.

The report goes onto say that alternatives to prison should include a person-centred, trauma-informed, gender specific and multi-agency package of support. This is the approach that has underpinned WY-FI delivery in West Yorkshire, led by Multiple Needs Navigators alongside Peer Mentor support.

Mark Burns-Williamson, the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner in West Yorkshire says, ““I am very pleased and proud to be able to support this research work, which shines a light on how it feels to be a service user, and how our service delivery model needs to change.  I am already supporting work to ensure that those women most at risk of returning to prison, are offered an alternative, with a bespoke package of care and support in place for them. 

Mark goes onto say, “the criminal justice system in general requires reform, and this research provides fresh evidence of what Baroness Corston told us some years ago; that using a model of rehabilitation based on the needs of men, when we are treating women, can be catastrophic, and will continue to impact negatively on generations to come.”


WY-FI has based its report on detailed analysis of the experiences of 296 women whilst they were on caseload with the project. This analysis has looked in detail at their needs on entry into WY-FI, how long they were on caseload, the services they used in relation to their needs and their outcomes and exits.

The data and evidence used was gathered by WY-FI between June 2014 – May 2020, when it was providing direct support to more than 820 people with multiple needs from across West Yorkshire – 296 of these people were women.

The report also includes peer research, with members of the WY-FI network holding focus groups to gather insight on multiple needs, and in particular reoffending needs, amongst women.

‘Keeping a face for the world’ is the first in a series of reports that WY-FI s producing for the National Lottery Community Fund Fulfilling Lives Programme and the West Yorkshire Office of Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).