How COVID has exposed the cracks in the system

Raising awareness of Multiple Disadvantage Day

Today marks the second year of Multiple Disadvantage Day – a day dedicated to raising awareness to some of the most vulnerable people in society. These people are most at risk of falling through the cracks of the system designed to protect everyone. And the shockwave of this pandemic has forced those gaps further apart. By Michael Delaney.

What are Multiple Disadvantages?

Not the catchiest name, but more of a catch-all term. It refers to people who are dealing with more than one issue at time, covering things like addiction, homelessness, reoffending and mental ill-health. In many cases, one problem can worsen another.

This is not a small issue, either. A report by the Revolving Doors project revealed that “there are approximately 60,000 people across England facing multiple and complex needs, with many more at risk of entering this situation.”

Getting turned away

The problem is not just that people are having to deal with more than one issue at a time, it’s the system is not optimised to accommodate these individuals.

Charities must justify where and how their funding gets used. Therefore, they have specific things that they can and can’t do with that money. As a consequence, they may be able to help an individual with one problem, but not the other.

So a charity that provides shelter to people may be forced to turn someone away who is homeless but also struggles with drug addiction because they are not set up to deal with both. Conversley, an addiction centre may not be able to assist someone who doesn’t have a fixed address.

This is how you slip through the cracks.


The campaign has been championed by a national network of charities, calling for change in how the system works.

Last year, the campaign ran with the hashtag #SeeTheFullPicture, attempting to encourage people to see past someone’s condition. They want to break through the stigma and, in turn, get people to see the need for a bigger change.

So this year, with COVID further exposing the flaws in the current system, the day is being dedicated to promoting this moment as the opportunity to deliver substantial progress.

A kinder future for everyone

As the campaign states:

We cannot go back to ‘the way we were’ as services and daily life return to a new normal. We need to ensure that the different ways of working during the Coronavirus pandemic, inform how ‘the system’ works moving forward”

Charities, such as MIND, are backing this year’s message of ‘A kinder future for everyone’, imploring people to open up conversations around the issue and seek real solutions.

How you can get involved

Join the conversation: @SystemChangeTNL and #seethefullpicture and help us to spread the message that now is the time to create a kinder future for everyone.

Read up on Multiple Disadvantage Day here.

Add your name to this petition calling for improving the access to mental health services.