Cash boost to support region’s most vulnerable

Steven Ellis, volunteer with DISC
Steven Ellis, volunteer with DISC
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A West Yorkshire partnership is set to receive a grant of £9.8m to support some of the region’s most vulnerable residents.

The multi-million pound grant is being awarded to help people with multiple problems such as homelessness, mental ill health, addiction and reoffending.

Figures show there are believed to be 2,425 people with multiple problems in West Yorkshire and 60 per cent do not receive any help.

More than a third of those people live in Leeds.

The cash from the Big Lottery Fund is being awarded to the partnership led by Developing Initiatives for Support in the Community (DISC) to improve and better coordinate services.

The West Yorkshire partnership will help people access the services they need, build their resilience, gain confidence and acquire the personal and social assets they need to meet their aspirations.

Support workers from Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees, Calderdale and Bradford will provide peer mentor support and organise volunteering, training and employment opportunities.

Mark Weeding, DISC’s chief executive, said: ‘This is fantastic news, we have the opportunity to help a small but significant group of people with very complex needs to change their lives.

“These are people whose problems are too complex for housing, probation, drug treatment or mental health services to solve on their own.

“Working with our core partners we will help services to come together and guide individuals, ensuring that they get the support they need to live fulfilling and rewarding lives.

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said: “Tens of thousands of people are passed from pillar to post with many inevitably leading chaotic lives – rebounding in and out of A & E departments and criminal courts rather than being helped by integrated support services.

“This investment will allow people to become assets rather than drains on society.”


Former heroin user Steven Ellis, 39, from Hunslet, Leeds, was in and out of prison for about 14 years.

He decided to quit drugs after being jailed in 2008 for theft and burglary and developed a passion for art during the two years he spent at HMP Everthorpe.

After release from jail he took a course at Leeds College of Art and is now in his second year of a BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art.

Steven began working as a volunteer with DISC and he received a Butler Trust Award for outstanding work in criminal justice .

He said: “I became addicted to heroin at 20 and it took me until the age of 35 to beat it. I found my way out.

“Trying to rebuild your life from scratch is quite a challenge while recovering from an addiction.”


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