Housing, mental health & substance misuse toolkit

Housing, Mental Health & Substance Misuse Toolkit


The Housing, Mental Health and Substance Misuse Toolkit has been developed by people working in a wide range of teams and agencies across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, with the help of experts by experience.

It sets out the process to follow when housing, mental health and substance misuse issues occur in ten different scenarios.

It came about following a conference Improving Pathways held in Autumn 2019 as part of the (then) Homelessness Trailblazer project.

Why do we need a Toolkit?

Cover of Surrey's mental health & housing protocol
We are very grateful to Surrey, who allowed us to use their protocol as a starting point for drafting our toolkit.

Teams need to work together to help secure better outcomes for people experiencing housing, mental health and substance misuse problems; informed by the lived experience of people who have been through it themselves.

The aim of the toolkit is to make it easier for each team to find out what to do and who to contact, particularly in services they may be less familiar with.

How to use the Toolkit

The Toolkit has been designed to be a quick reference guide for staff.

It’s not intended that anyone would read it “cover to cover” – just skip to sections of interest and use the hyperlinks in the document to find out more as needed.

It goes through ten scenarios, with notes who to contact and what to do for each. These are:

  • Person in hospital
  • Applying for social housing
  • Threat of eviction
  • Living with relatives or friends but it’s not working out
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Home is in poor condition (includes hoarding)
  • Home is being taken over, or person being exploited (includes cuckooing and county lines)
  • Person has immigration issues
  • Release from prison or police custody
  • Person has more than one issue

A document like this will never cover every situation which may arise, it’s best to think of it like a training guide to give the idea of who might get involved and use that knowledge to work out what to do and who to approach, creating your own contact list of who can help when a similar situation arises in future.

The Toolkit also includes:

  • A glossary of jargon commonly used (though we have tried to avoid jargon in the protocol), because terminology is bound to come up, in conversation with other teams and organisations, so the glossary is there to try to help break through some communication barriers.
  • Useful contacts where we provide contact information for key teams named in the Toolkit.
  • A list of directories where you can find up-to-date contacts with a whole range of support organisations

Who is the Toolkit for?

  • Mental health teams
  • Substance misuse teams
  • Housing teams
  • Hospital based workers in both acute hospitals and mental health units
  • Social care teams
  • Police
  • Probation and related services
  • Fire and rescue services
  • Charity, voluntary and community sector partners

The Toolkit

Here is a link to version 1.0 of the Toolkit-v1.0 published in February 2022, with the support of various Partnership Boards.

We have already (by the end of February 2022!) had some feedback and made improvements, so here is a link to Toolkit-v1.1 – the changes made are listed on the back page so you can see what’s been adjusted quite easily.

From now on we plan to gather your suggestions and update the document about every 3 months, so please do keep your comments coming and we will incorporate them into the next version.

Sharing the Toolkit

We would love it if all partners can share the Toolkit on their websites, in team meetings and at briefings, via social media and elsewhere. It’s a practical “hands on” guide so the more people who are aware of the principles it sets out, the better.

We would love you to share the Toolkit using this link https://cambridgeshireinsight.org.uk/h-mh-sm-toolkit/ – this will bring readers to this page so they can get the latest version, and learn how to give us feedback.

We have created some slides which introduce the Toolkit, please feel free to use and share them. We’ve also created slides with narration to use as a training tool. The video is just over 9 minutes long:

Here is a brief toolkit-media-pack to help with the sharing process.


However you use or share the Housing, Mental Health and Substance Misuse Toolkit, we’d ask you to include the email address toolkit@cambridge.gov.uk and encourage people to use it, to help us keep it current and relevant. This feedback will be vital to the Toolkit in future.

The plan is for suggestions and changes to be incorporated:

  • As and when during 2022, where the change does not require too much editing. We will note any changes in a table at the end of the Toolkit, and the version number on the top left of each page will change from 1.0 to 1.1, then 1.2 etc so we are all clear which version is current.
  • As part of a full update covering any more significant changes, to be edited in towards the end of 2022, and republishing in February 2023 as version 2.0.

Many thanks for sharing the Housing, Mental Health and Substance Misuse Toolkit – and for sending us your feedback.