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I was privileged yesterday to chair a conference launching a new coalition of charities concerned with the provision of services to adults with severe and complex needs. The event was organised by Homeless Link.

For the second session, I interviewed three service users who have been helped to turn their lives around by a combination of statutory and third sector services. Their stories were humbling, frightening and inspiring – humbling, in the way in which they had overcome huge personal problems; frightening, in the sense that each of them recognised the need for change, but would not still have been here if the help hadn’t clicked in when it did; and inspiring the way each of them paid tribute to the professionals and volunteers who had helped them.

Against the background of social pessimism (which I have blogged about before) and the more recent despair over the Baby P case, it is important to remember that whilst ‘the system’ does too often fail, it also saves thousands of people every year, enabling them to lead useful and fulfilling lives, when previously they had lived in hopelessness and chaos.


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