2002 was a year for growth at HARP and this was primarily due to the winning of the contract to deliver the Assertive Outreach service in partnership with Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust– the first in Manchester.
Assertive Outreach was about doing things differently – engaging with people with a diagnosis of psychosis and who were finding it difficult to engage with mental health services, usually due to a range of complex presentations. The idea was to develop a teamwork approach, which would sit around the person and be able to bring in the range of skills which were within the team – social workers, nurses, support workers, advice workers, occupational therapists etc. The ethos was about meeting people where they were – whether that was on the streets, in cafes, day centres etc.
Initially working in Central Manchester, the service would grow to be Manchester wide in 2007. What it meant for HARP was a trebling of staff and the employment of a manager – a truly new concept for what had been a small and completely non-hierarchical organisation. It was a truly innovative move on behalf of commissioners and HARP became one of only a handful of Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations running this statutory provision. It was challenging work in many respects but it was felt that this new and more holistic way of working suited the HARP style. Assertive Outreach still exists but is now a pathway within community mental health teams.