Proposed withdrawal of discretionary Freedom Pass (final)
Equality Impact Assessment report
Full Equality Impact Assessment Report
Date to Cabinet 25 July 2011
Title Proposed withdrawal of discretionary Freedom Pass
Head of Service
Physical Disabilities and Accessible Transport
Adults’ and Community Services
To present the equality impact assessment of the proposal to withdraw
Purpose of report
the discretionary Freedom Pass
For discussion X
Central government funding for councils has been reduced, and Lambeth
must make savings of £37 million in 2011/12; this is out of a total budget
of £310 million.
Executive summary It is proposed that Lambeth withdraws the non-statutory discretionary
Freedom Passes previously issued to 768 residents, generating a
savings of £478,000. This is based on not reissuing the current 768
discretionary passes at approximately £623 per pass.
Recommendations That the equality impact assessment is noted
Consultation with corporate boards/officers/departments
Name Date sent
Head of Policy,
Adult Social Care
Director of Integrated
London Borough of Lambeth
Full Equality Impact Assessment
POLICY: Proposed withdrawal of discretionary Freedom Pass
DATE: July 2011
The council has legal requirements to pay due regard to equality before and during policy decision
making. Due regard comprise two linked elements: proportionality and relevance. The initial screening
for relevance of this business activity is summarised below. Given its relevance to tackling inequality a
full assessment is deemed proportionate.
1.1 Section 1 – Stage 1 summary
Business High – needs very detailed and thorough process with significant external challenge. Full
activity assessment required
relevance Medium – needs reasonably robust process with some degree of external challenge. Full
equality Low – needs a degree of rigor to confirm that it is in line with statutory duties but external
challenge. Full assessment not required
Relevance Race Gender & Disability Age Sexual Faith or Social
identified Transgender Orientation Belief Factors
High/ Medium Medium High Low Low Low Medium
1.2 This full assessment builds on the stage 1 initial screening and provides the following:
the aims and intention of the business activity;
equality evidence collected;
results of consultation and involvement;
the potential/actual1 impacts revealed; and
justification of decisions made and action taken.
1.3 Business activity aims and intention
Why is it needed? Who is it aimed at? What is the intended outcome?
In 2008 people in England who met national criteria in relation to age or disability became entitled to free
off-peak travel on all local buses anywhere in England. The Mayor of London extended free travel for
eligible Londoners to any time of day.
Lambeth issues Freedom Passes to people who meet the national eligibility criteria in relation to age and
disability. In addition, like most London boroughs, the council has provided discretionary passes to
people who do not meet the national criteria - mainly to people with mental health difficulties.
At present, 22 London boroughs indicate that they provide discretionary Freedom Passes. However,
London Councils’ figures show that only three boroughs provide more discretionary passes than
Lambeth; five boroughs provide between two and nine passes only, while others issue between 16 and
If the EIA is for the review of an existing business activity it must include an assessment of the actual impact and outcomes.
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Given the change in concessionary travel entitlements, the council stopped issuing new discretionary
Freedom Passes in 2008. Transitional arrangements for existing users allowed their passes to continue.
Central government funding for councils has been significantly reduced, and Lambeth must make
savings of £37 million in 2011/12; this is out of a total budget of £310 million. In addition, part of the
funding for the Freedom Pass comes from Transport for London (TfL). Funding methods have changed
and funding will now be based on how often each pass is used, rather than a standard charge. This
could potentially increase the cost to the council, with no additional budget to pay for it.
It is proposed that Lambeth withdraws the discretionary Freedom Passes, generating a savings of
£478,000. This is based on not reissuing the 768 discretionary passes at approximately £623 per pass.
The discretionary Freedom Pass is not a statutory service.
2. Section 2 – Sound, consistent equality data collection and analysis
EIAs should ensure that the business activity involvement and consultation approaches include communities
and groups covered by the public sector duties and wider equality groups. This section sets out how equality
information has been mapped, collected and analysed to better understand the likely impact of the business
activity on equality and the main issues that could hinder the effective implementation.
2.1 Collecting and using data to identify the impact
What does available In your response please include:
data indicate about Any further evidence captured or insight gained since stage 1.
access to the
proposed business Equalities profile of service users/staff and beneficiaries by race, gender,
activity and its transgender, disability, age, sexual orientation, faith or belief equality or
intended outcomes for socio economic status.
different equalities Evidence from relevant surveys and complaints.
There are currently 768 adult Lambeth residents with a discretionary Freedom Pass.
The people potentially affected by the proposed withdrawal of the discretionary pass are people who
have, or have had, mental health problems. They include some of the most vulnerable residents in the
borough and, to a greater or lesser extent, their carers. Some of these service users will be impacted
by changes in other council services. In addition, social care clients are also facing national changes in
the benefits system, as well as the challenges presented by the introduction of personalisation.
No data is available on the ethnicity of 138 (18%) of the discretionary pass holders. Of the pass holders
whose ethnicity is known, 51% are from BME communities although only 38% of Lambeth’s total
population is of BME origin. It is widely acknowledged that people of BME backgrounds are over-
represented in the mental health system.
63% of the Freedom Pass holders are male, and 37% female. This discrepancy with the approximately
50/50 split for the borough’s population as a whole reflects the fact that more men than women
experience mental ill health.
The discretionary Freedom Pass was originally provided to the current 768 holders as they were
experiencing mental ill health. Some may also have physical disabilities.
11% of Lambeth’s total population is 60 or older, whereas only 5% of the discretionary Freedom Pass
holders is in this age group. The discrepancy is explained by the fact that any Lambeth resident who
meets the national criteria on age can apply for an Older Person’s Freedom Pass. A recent change in
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legislation means that people whose 60th birthday falls between 6 April 2010 and 5 April 2015 will no
longer be eligible to apply for a Freedom Pass on their 60th birthday. The intention is to harmonise the
entitlement to the Older Person’s Freedom Pass with the state pension age. A very small proportion of
discretionary Freedom Pass holders fall, or will shortly fall, into the relevant age group.
Data is not collected on the socio-economic status of the 768 discretionary Freedom Pass holders as it
is not a means tested benefit. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to assume that most of the 768 will be on
low incomes. Impending changes to the benefits system will very probably be financially detrimental to
some people experiencing mental ill health.
Data on the current status of discretionary Freedom Pass holders was analysed by SLaM (South
London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust) which provides the widest range of NHS mental health
services in the UK. SLaM holds information on 742 of the 768 pass holders and, of these, more than
200 have been discharged from SLaM. The majority of the others are in receipt of mental health
services of some sort, ranging from residential care, medication services, attendance at day services,
support from services working with people with substance misuse or HIV, and outpatient services. Full
details are set out in appendix 1.
It is recognised that mental health conditions often fluctuate and people who have been discharged from
SLaM may experience a recurrence of mental ill health in adverse circumstances.
2.2 Positive involvement and consultation
What do stakeholders In your response please set out:
think about the
The potential barriers to participation for the different equality groups.
How you have consulted with key stakeholders in the process of
developing the business activity to obtain their views on it.
How feedback and challenge from informed groups and individuals will be
used to ensure that the final business activity is robust, addresses
identified need and promotes equality of opportunity.
Consultation on the proposed withdrawal of the discretionary Freedom Pass ran from 24 March to 24 June
2011. Information on the consultation was sent to all holders of the discretionary Freedom Pass and a
wide range of other Lambeth stakeholders, including voluntary and community groups, 50 general
practitioner surgeries and colleagues working in NHS services. People were offered a range of ways to
give their views:
Completing a consultation questionnaire (on paper or online)
Via a Freephone telephone number.
In addition, public consultation meetings were run at the town hall, complementing smaller meetings held
at local centres working with people with mental health problems.
ACS also ran a challenge workshop with members of the Lambeth LINk to review the developing EIA.
This shaped the final assessment, as did subsequent written feedback from LINk.
The LINk is an independent network of local people and organisations which support and promote the
involvement of service users, patients, the public and voluntary/community groups in the commissioning,
provision and scrutiny of local health and social care services.
The draft equality impact assessment was presented to the corporate EIA panel by the Divisional Director
for Adult Social Care and the panel’s comments were taken into account when the EIA was finalised.
319 completed questionnaires were submitted in hard copy and electronically, and 186 people participated
in consultation meetings. There were 12 calls to the Freephone line and nine emails or letters were
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received. Consultation materials were made available in alternative formats and community languages, in
response to individual requests.
The consultation established detailed information on how people use their discretionary pass, and the
value they place on it.
How people use their discretionary Freedom Pass
People use their Freedom Pass to travel for a range of social, cultural, leisure and work-related activities,
household chores and medical appointments. Using the Freedom Pass to travel to a supermarket is
important for people on low incomes, as they can shop more economically than would be possible in a
small local shop. Respondents over the age of 55 were more likely to use their pass to go to the shops,
bank etc than younger respondents (60% versus 43%).
I visit my mother very often, she’s elderly and I run errands for her. I can’t walk that well – it takes
me a long time. I’m an artist and I visit galleries, museums. I wouldn’t be able to do that without the
I go to Mosaic Clubhouse to see the mental health team and I start college this year.
I have to visit my sister who is in a hospice in Croydon – I use it every day, once in the morning
and then in the evening. I would get depressed without it.
I have hospital appointments three to four times a week. With the Freedom Pass I can jump on the
tube and it’s two to three buses to get there.
For people who have multiple physical ailments (as well as mental health issues), carrying
shopping is an issue and the Freedom Pass is vital.
Mode of transport used
People use their discretionary pass on all relevant modes of public transport, but mainly the bus network.
Discretionary Freedom Passes are used 38% more than disability passes on buses, but 9% less on the
underground: this reflects some pass holders’ preference for use of buses and also the fact that there is
no tube network south of Brixton.
I mainly use the bus, and sometimes the tube.
Usually bus, 10% tube.
Benefits for discretionary Freedom Pass holders’ overall quality of life
Respondent after respondent stressed the importance to their quality of life of simply being able to get out
and about easily without having to think about paying for transport. Having the pass contributes materially
to their mental health and wellbeing.
64% of respondents from BME communities said that their discretionary Freedom Pass helps them to get
out and about in their local area whereas only 50% of White respondents made this comment.
There is nothing I own that is worth more than the Freedom Pass. Everything in my house could be
stolen and I would not have lost more than with the pass.
Until I had a Freedom Pass, I could not afford a phone. I will have to go back to that. I will lose
internet and be back in the 19th century when everyone else is in the 21st. I will have to live like my
grandmother in 1918.
It has changed my life utterly being able to get out.
Benefits for discretionary Freedom Pass holders’ mental health
For many people, having the Freedom Pass and being able to get out and about for activities they enjoy or
essential appointments is key to improving their mental health. It was pointed out repeatedly that
withdrawing the discretionary pass could have a detrimental impact on many people’s mental health.
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They would have a greater need for services and therefore cost the council more than it would to maintain
the discretionary pass. Similarly there would be cost implications for the NHS.
My daughter is 45. The pass has given her dignity and helped her to take control of her life. Before
she had the pass, she was very frustrated and angry at not being able to do things on her own.
With the pass it was like a flower blossomed. Because she could go and meet people, her English
and confidence improved. She has taken back her life and is in control.
I use mine to get to Bible studies, and this has been very important in the past in saving me from
People have to get depots [medication by injection]. If they cannot get these, how are they going
to improve without medication? I would like these passes to stay.
I go to Mosaic as well as going regularly to St Thomas’ Hospital. My mental health is bipolar and I
have suicidal ideation etc so the Freedom Pass helps when I get ill as I can get out and meet
people. [Without the pass] I will become more and more depressed and end up back in the
You have no idea what I am feeling or suffering; the pass is essential to my survival. I can go and
meet people and share my thoughts.
Reducing social isolation
Many people have emphasised that without the pass they would be socially isolated which in turn would
have a detrimental impact on their mental health and general wellbeing. More White respondents (62%)
than BME respondents (48%) mentioned that their pass allows them opportunities for social contact.
My Freedom Pass stops me from being isolated. It helps with my loneliness.
I have been socially isolated before and the pass stops that.
I use the pass for shopping, doctor, carrying heavy shopping, friends to visit, voluntary work at day
centre. I am agoraphobic. If I stay at home, I feel isolated. When I go out with friends, they don’t
have to pay [for me]; I have my pass. It gives me contact with peers.
It gets me out of the house. In the house I feel isolated. I sometimes go to swim at Brixton Rec. I
go to the day centre and do voluntary work. Going to see my family keeps me out of trouble.
Due to their low incomes, most Freedom Pass holders said that they would not be able to afford public
transport. Money spent on fares would need to be taken from the budget for other areas.
Out of the £7 I have per day to live on, I have nothing left after paying for everything else to spend
on travel. How can I fund a return ticket? I clearly cannot afford to pay for travel.
Service users are anxious about the changes to the benefits system, so this is not a good time to
be having a conversation about withdrawing discretionary Freedom Passes.
My budget would be affected. I would have to stay at home as I can’t afford to travel.
Respondents were asked what support or information they would need if Lambeth no longer provided
discretionary Freedom Passes.
Most people did not know, or felt there is nothing the council could provide which compares to the
Freedom Pass. Others highlighted the need for information on other forms of subsidised travel or, in some
cases, an alternative service such as a Taxicard. Some suggested that, if the discretionary pass was
withdrawn, the council should provide a bus pass.
It’s really difficult to think of a service that could equal the Freedom Pass.
Basic information on how to get a bus pass, Oyster card for disabled people, concessionary fares,
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discounts, local information.
All the information in the world won’t get me a reduced fare. Income Support and Incapacity
benefits are more than Jobseeker’s Allowance, so I won’t be entitled.
We need bereavement counselling, as losing the pass is like a bereavement.
Some people suggested alternative options which would enable them to keep travelling for free or at
concessionary rates if the Freedom Pass were withdrawn. Chief amongst these is a bus pass, which is
consistent with the current Freedom Pass holders’ greater use of the bus network than the tube. Others
suggested imposing limitations on use of the discretionary pass.
A number of respondents pointed out that the discretionary pass should only be issued to people who use
it, as some people have a pass but do not use it. Others highlighted the need to look at Freedom Passes
across the board. Currently the Older Person’s Freedom Pass is issued automatically to those in the
relevant age group, regardless of their health and income. There was some feeling that this particular
pass should be means tested.
If the discretionary pass is withdrawn, could the council explore providing half price bus passes?
We would much rather have a bus pass than not have anything at all.
Paying a nominal fee would be better than taking [the Freedom Pass] away completely.
Other options would be a discretionary pass which could only be used after 9.30 am or with a set
limit on the number of journeys.
Equalities profile of consultation respondents
97% of consultation questionnaires received were submitted by people who use adult social care services.
The other 3% were sent in by carers, representatives of voluntary/community sector organisations and
other local groups, council staff and Lambeth residents.
The questionnaire sought equalities information on discretionary Freedom Pass holders, and the response
presented the following picture. Some respondents preferred not to give certain information, so the
percentages given do not always total 100%.
59% of Taxicard users are male and 40% female.
99% are between the ages of 18 and 60.
40% are White and 58% are of BME origin.
In relation to disability, respondents were asked to select as many options as apply:
25% have a physical impairment or disability
7% have sight or hearing loss
91% have a mental health problem or illness
16% have a learning disability or difficulty
28% have a long standing illness.
79% describe their sexuality as heterosexual, 4% as gay or lesbian and 2% as bisexual.
Discretionary Freedom Pass holders are predominantly Christian – 65% indicated this as their religion. At
5%, the next largest group by faith is Muslim, and 11% are of no religion.
8% are owner occupiers, 78% live in rented accommodation and 7% are in residential care, sheltered
housing or Extra Care housing.
In terms of their current situation:
6% of discretionary Freedom Pass holders attend school, college or university
5% are employed or self-employed
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2% are apprentices or training to work
14% are not in education, employment or training
8% are unemployed and available for work
4% are retired
56% are permanently disabled or have a long term condition
3% are unpaid carers.
2.3 Gaps in information
What gaps in In your response please identify:
information have you
Areas where more information is required and longer term measures
identified? to be taken to strengthen data.
As with other services, ACS needs to collect information on clients’ sexual orientation and faith,
although the department has collected some information through the feedback to the consultation.
3. Section 3 – Assessing impact
It is essential to consider not just the intended consequences of the business activity but also any unintended
consequence and barriers that might prevent it being effective for certain community groups. Where a
business activity is found to have either positive or negative impact on a particular group it will need to be
revised or justified within the permits of the law. This section sets out how equality information has been
analysed and the likely impact identified.
3.1 Testing for negative impact and positive impact
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From evidence In your response for each equality group please set out:
analysed could the
Access to and potential take up of service, where appropriate
business activity have
differential, Potential impact of business activity revealed and justification
disproportionate or If differential or disproportionate impact amount to unlawful indirect or
adverse impact on direct discrimination how is this justifiable under legislation?
No data is available on the ethnicity of 138 (18%) of the 768 discretionary Freedom Pass holders.
Of the pass holders whose ethnicity is known, 51% are from BME communities although only 38% of
Lambeth’s total population is of BME origin. It is widely acknowledged that people of BME backgrounds
are over-represented in the mental health system. This factsheet published by MIND in 2010 sets out some
Men make up 51.5% of Lambeth’s total adult population, and women 48.5%.
63% of the Freedom Pass holders are male, and 37% female. This discrepancy with the statistics for
the borough’s population as a whole reflects the fact that more men than women suffer mental ill
Withdrawal of the discretionary Freedom Pass may have some impact on carers of mental health
service users - if service users are less able to go out, they may need greater levels of support at
home. According to Carers UK, 58% of carers nationally are women, and 42% men.
All of the 768 discretionary Freedom Passes were provided to people experiencing mental ill health.
The rate of mental ill health is higher in Lambeth than in most London boroughs. Details of the sort of
mental health service used are included in appendix 1 of this EIA. Around one third are no longer in
receipt of mental health services.
11% of Lambeth’s total population is 60 or older, whereas only 5% of the discretionary Freedom Pass
holders are in this age group. The discrepancy is explained by the fact that any Lambeth resident aged
60 or over can apply for an Older Person’s Freedom Pass. The discretionary Freedom Pass scheme
targeted younger mental health service users, and just 5% of these have recently turned 60.
Historically, data has not been collected on the sexual orientation of the 768 Freedom Pass holders.
However, 6% of people who completed consultation questionnaires indicated that they are lesbian, gay
or bisexual. Organisations working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people indicate
that people who are not open about their sexuality are more likely to travel away from their local
borough for social activities for fear of being recognised by people in their communities. This is
particularly so in the case of older and BME LGBT people who have long experience of discrimination.
Religion and belief
Historically, data has not been collected on the religion or belief of the 768 Freedom Pass holders.
However, 65% of people who completed consultation questionnaires are Christian. At 5%, the next
largest group by faith is Muslim, and 11% are of no religion.
Data is not collected on the socio-economic status of the 768 Freedom Pass holders as it is not means
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However, disabled people are less likely to be in paid employment than their non-disabled peers and it
is reasonable to assume that many of the current Freedom Pass holders will be living on low incomes.
Only 5% of those who completed a consultation questionnaire said that they are in employment.
Feedback from the consultation identified concerns about poverty and not being able to pay for
necessities was common amongst holders of the discretionary Freedom Pass.
3.3 Equality impact summary
Potential impact identified – High (H), Medium (M), Low(L)
Potential impact Race Gender Disability Age Sexuality Faith or Socio-
identified Orientation Belief economic
Low Low Low Low Low Low Low
Risk of differential/ Medium Medium High Low Low Low Medium
4. Section 4 - Addressing adverse impact and promoting equality
This section sets out conclusion and specific actions taken or to be taken to deal with any adverse impact and
to promote equality.
4.1 Developing inclusive services and promoting equality
What are the main Please identify:
conclusions and the Changes/adjustments to address impact identified
key changes that
have been made to Measures that will require wider decisions
address adverse How the change will meet needs or accommodate difference and diversity
impact or to address
How the change will promote positive attitudes and good relations
between different groups and community relations generally
discrimination, if any,
and to promote How the business activity will be implemented and communicated to
equality? make it accessible and transparent
Withdrawal of the discretionary Freedom Pass would clearly have an adverse impact on the lives of many of
the current holders.
There are alternative opportunities for free or subsidised travel for some pass holders.
Older Person’s Freedom Pass
Discretionary Freedom Pass holders now in the 60+ age group will be able to apply through the Post Office
for an older person’s pass.
Disabled Person’s Freedom Pass
Six of the seven national eligibility criteria for the Disabled Person’s Freedom Pass effectively rule out
mental health service users unless they also have a physical or learning disability. People can apply for
this pass if they:
1. Are blind or partially sighted; or
2. Are profoundly or severely deaf; or
3. Are without speech; or
4. Have a disability, or have suffered an injury, which has left them with a substantial and long-term
adverse effect on their ability to walk; or
5. Do not have arms or have a long-term loss of the use of both arms; or
6. Have a learning disability, that is defined as ‘a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind
which includes a significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning’; or
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7. Would, if they applied for the grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under part III of the Road
Traffic Act 1988, have their application refused pursuant to section 92 of the act (physical fitness)
otherwise than on the ground of persistent drug or alcohol abuse.
Discretionary Freedom Pass holders who meet criterion 7 on fitness to drive will be able to apply to the
Lambeth Accessible Transport Unit for a pass. The council proposes to support people wishing to make an
application under criterion 7 and there would be regular drop-in sessions to facilitate the process. Lambeth
is also working with the borough’s GPs who will need to confirm that an applicant is not fit to drive. Councils
which have withdrawn discretionary passes have used applications under criterion 7 as the primary
The introduction of personalisation has potential mitigating impact on the proposal to withdraw discretionary
Freedom Passes as individual care packages may incorporate the provision of transport.
Information on alternative travel support
The council is putting together information on travel support for people on benefits or low income. For
example, people on low incomes can access the government’s New Deal scheme or the Bus and Trams
discount concession which allows travel at half the adult rate in London. In addition there is a range of
services in Lambeth which provide essential door to door transport for people with special needs and/or
mobility impairments - Taxicard, Dial a Ride, Capital Call, Community Transport/Plusbus, special
educational needs transport, adult services transport and NHS patient transport services. Some of these
services are statutory while others are not, but they are essentially similar and there is a degree of overlap
in their customer bases.
It may be that different criteria could be developed to allow those people with the most severe mental health
problems, or those who are most reliant on the discretionary Freedom Pass for their mental wellbeing, to
have a pass. This needs to be considered in the context of other options.
Section 5 – Implementation and review
At this stage an action plan should be developed to address any additional concerns or issues related to
tackling inequality. The plan should include arrangements for monitoring, evaluation and review of the
business activity and should be integrated into the appropriate Service of Business Plan. The results of the
EIA and action plan must be published as per the council’s EIA guidance. Once the business activity has
been implemented, it must be monitored and periodically reviewed to ensure that it has the intended impact
and is still appropriate.
Actions Required Timeframe Budget Lead Officer Relevant PI
Report and 25 July 2011 N/A Divisional Director,
recommendations Adult Social Care
Withdrawal of the September 2011 N/A Head of Service,
discretionary (dates dependent Physical
Freedom Pass, if on agreement of Disabilities and
sanctioned by option below) Accessible
Cabinet, with Transport
advance notice to
holders and other
Development of September – N/A Divisional Director,
alternative criteria November 2011 Adult Social Care
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assessment of all
rights issues fully
EIA publishing date: __________________________ Policy review date: ______________________
Full assessment sign-off
Name Signature Date
Head of Policy, Research and
Divisional Director, Adult Social
Director of Integrated
Mental health services currently used by discretionary Freedom Pass holders
Amardeep (Asian service) 4
Assertive outreach team 21
Community mental health teams 132
Community mental health teams and receiving other services 46
Cascaid (Mental Health and HIV team) 3
Effra day centre 26
Effra day centre and other day services 9
Mosaic Clubhouse 40
Mosaic Clubhouse and other services 7
Day care other 2
Fanon (BME specific service) 6
Discharged from SLaM 199
Discharged from SLaM but attending other services 4
Medication services only 52
Medication and other services 7
Outpatients only 49
Outpatients and other services 8
Placement assessment and monitoring team 8
Placement assessment and monitoring and other service 6
In residential care 27
Social, Hope and Recovery Project (SHARP) 3
SHARP and other service 4
SLaM services 39
In supported accommodation 6
In Supporting People scheme 16
In supporting people scheme and other services 7
START (homeless team) 2
Known to Umbrella (community support services) 4
Not known on SLaM’s electronic system 24
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