Our Elastic Tolerance Model

Having an elastic tolerance policy means that we can support people who have multiple and complex needs, such as active addiction, mental ill health, or a history of offending, as we do not believe that they should be a barrier to accessing safe accommodation. We believe that our approach stops the revolving door of repeated homelessness, and enables people to remain housed, supported and safe.

This tolerance is key, as a 2019 study by Public Health England found that 42% of all those rough sleeping had drug or alcohol misuse or dependency challenges, and 50% also had mental health needs. Furthermore, studies report high prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma among people with experience of homelessness, both of which are life-altering and have long term health consequences into adulthood.

By providing people at risk of homelessness with safe accommodation and access to the appropriate support, we are providing an opportunity for them to develop their independence and address their challenges, neither of which could be done on the street.

Elastic tolerance is not a new model, in fact, it is what most people would say is a ‘common sense’ approach. When people are displaying challenging behaviour, we look at the person, assess their situation, and try to work towards a suitable outcome using a holistic approach, which can include counselling, group work and peer models.

We work closely with numerous partners, including We Are With You, the NHS, community mental health teams, Devon and Cornwall Police, and the Drug and the Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) to ensure that the correct support and guidance is in place.

Harbour staff work flexibly, innovatively, and without judgement with clients to promote recovery and signpost to the right places. Understanding and empathy are core tenants of our service, and essential to our elastic tolerance model.

What is Elastic Tolerance?


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