01782 450760

Category: News

Get Talking Hardship

VOICES Get Talking Hardship
By Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES   This may be an apocryphal story, I can’t remember where I heard it, but it illustrates a point… A doctor was about to do a first shift in charge of a busy A&E department and expressed some anxiety to their supervisor.  Their supervising consultant offered some coaching through the following advice: “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, under pressure, so you don’t know where to turn, or what to do, if you feel lost and alone.  Don’t hesitate to cope.” The message was that struggle is normal, rely on your training and skills, rely on your network of colleagues, overcome problems, grow, and be ‘resilient’.   Promoting resilience has become an inescapable message of public dialogue on hardship and wellbeing.  I think we need to re-examine this refrain.   The implication of the resilience narrative – for some – is that the solution to hardship and poverty is found in the individual.  And, that hardship and poverty, as well as its consequences for physical and mental wellbeing, is the result of ‘lifestyle choices’. Our popular dialogue on the subject tends to organise – consciously or otherwise – into categories of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor.  Sadly, we sometimes see these judgements documented in eligibility criteria that… Continue Reading

Join the VOICES team: Systems Change Manager

VOICES join our team
This is a unique job opportunity to work as part of a vibrant and supportive team and we are now recruiting for a Systems Change Manager.  This is an excellent prospect to add to your existing skillset and to be part of a unique programme with a national profile.  You will be taking a leading role in a comprehensive programme of systems change and working alongside people with lived experience of multiple needs.  You will be using your project, contract, and change management skills to help us make a permanent difference for people experiencing multiple needs in Stoke-on-Trent.  You may even have lived experience of multiple needs yourself, if you do your application would be very welcome. For an informal chat about the role please give us a ring on 01782 450 760 and ask to speak to Andy Meakin.   Please also visit www.voicesofstoke.org.uk for further information.   Job Title:    Systems Change Manager (VOICES) Contract:    Permanent post Salary:        £31.212 per annum Hours:        37 hours per week, Monday – Friday, usually 9am to 5pm, although some flexibility may be required. Job Ref: A505   Closing date:               Monday, 24th June 2019 Interview date:           Monday, 1st July 2019   Click here to download the full job description   To apply for this position download and application form here… Continue Reading

Universal Credit: Complex Needs Alerts

VOICES complex needs alert
By Karen Dunn, Specialist Welfare Benefits Team, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent   Navigating the intricacies of the Welfare Benefits system can be daunting.  Making a new claim for benefit is just the start.  It is important then, that we alert the DWP to anything that will prevent our customers from managing and maintaining their claim, sooner rather than later.  Especially so with the introduction of Universal Credit and ‘digital by default’.   If we are supporting people experiencing multiple and complex needs with their benefit issues, we need to understand that the DWP definition of ‘vulnerability’ and ‘complex needs’ may not be the same as our own.   The DWP definition of vulnerability is “An individual; who is identified as having complex needs and/or requires additional support to enable them to access DWP benefits and use our services.” Its aim is to provide a service that is, “equal in quality and outcome to those whose needs are not complex”.   Its definition of complex needs for Universal Credit purposes is that “the claimant may need additional or different support if it is likely that they will have difficulty:   Accessing UC Proving eligibility for UC Fulfilling the Labour Market requirements Maintaining their UC account or,Continue Reading

‘Fees Fees, tell me more’ – New Tenant Fees Act

VOICES tenant fees act 2
By Geoff Davies, Housing Advice Specialist, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent   The new Tenant Fees Act comes into force on the 1st June capping the amount that renters can be charged for a deposit and banning letting fees altogether as part of the Government’s bid to reduce hidden costs for tenants.   The Government expects to save tenants across England at least £240 million a year through the changes. The new act applies to new tenancies, including replacement tenancies entered into on or after the 1st June 2019.  It will then apply to other existing tenancies from the 1st June 2020. If a tenant entered into a tenancy before 1 June 2019, a landlord or agent will still be able to charge fees up until 31 May 2020, but only where these are required under an existing tenancy agreement. This might include, for example, fees to renew a fixed-term agreement where a tenant had already agreed to pay these. The ban applies to all assured shorthold tenancies, tenancies of student accommodation and licences to occupy housing in the private rented sector in England. Most tenancies in the private rented sector are assured shorthold tenancies   Under the new legislation the only payments in connection with… Continue Reading

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

VOICES homes fit for
By Geoff Davies, Specialist Housing Advisor, SNSCAB   Introduction Last month saw the introduction of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018’) which aims to strengthen the rights of renters in England and enshrine a legal minimum standard of the condition of their rented home. It will also give renters a legal mechanism to take their landlord to court for breach of contract if they do not comply with their obligations.   Why was the Act Introduced? According to the 2015/2016 English Housing Survey over a million tenants in the private and social rented sector live in accommodation with at least one category 1 hazard, which is defined as a serious and immediate risk to a person’s health and safety’.  The tragedy at Grenfell highlighted the lack of redress for social tenants.   Social tenancies currently have no effective means of redress over poor conditions. Private tenants have to rely on overstretched local authority Environmental Health Teams to investigate and evidence poor conditions. The main disrepair provision that tenants use (s.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985) is not concerned with whether a home is fit or safe – rather to keep in repair the structure or exterior of the property or certain installations in the property.… Continue Reading

Association of Charitable Foundations event

VOICES ACF article
By Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES   We were delighted to welcome colleagues from the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), Homeless Link, and the National Lottery Community Fund to Federation House at the end of March to discuss the relationship between homelessness and criminal justice. VOICES pulled together examples from across the Fulfilling Lives partnership of what works well in these contexts for our customers based on our learning. We summarised these in to five key approaches:   Service coordination / navigation An assertive case worker and advocate to offer immediate help working from a strengths-based perspective.  Someone to guide and engage people in the services that they need.  A determined and persistent worker that focuses on solutions.  Navigators steer people to and through services (and vice versa), assist people to overcome practical barriers using a personal budget, and compile a multi-agency plan to move towards people’s aspirations. Multi-disciplinary working People with complex needs often face multiple exclusion from services.  This leads to situations where people may feel or become ‘stuck’ outside of the system.  Multidisciplinary working allows professionals involved to take a solution focused approach.  This will often necessitate dealing with exceptions through compromise and sharing identified manageable risks. Trauma informed care People that have been through harrowing… Continue Reading

Sharing is caring: RIPfA event

VOICES RIPfA event
By Bruno Ornelas, Head of Service and Safeguarding, VOICES   A key lesson to emerge from VOICES early work, centered on the importance of communicating with adult social care in their own language. We recognised that our referrals to adult social care often provided a narrative account of our customers’ circumstances, which were rarely acted upon by social workers. What worked from a communication perspective, was ensuring that referrals clearly specified how presenting needs mapped onto the ‘eligibility regulations’ contained in the Care Act 2014. As such, VOICES designed the Care Act Multiple Needs Toolkit. This provides a step-by-step guide to working through the Care Act 2014 eligibility regulations.   Many of us will be familiar with Rosetta Stone type technology for learning a new language. Developed almost 30 years ago, Rosetta Stone pioneered the use of interactive software to accelerate language learning and is widely recognized today as the industry leader in providing effective language programs – “Rosetta Stone prepares you for real-world conversations in your new language”.   In that sense, the care act toolkit can function as a communication or a language aid that prepares groups of workers, who may not have worked together before, to communicate and translate needs more clearly and succinctly… Continue Reading

Listening and Learning with the NHS

VOICES listening and learning
By Samantha Fairbanks, Learning and Evaluation, VOICES Special thanks to Lee Dale, Expert Citizens   VOICES and Expert Citizens recently attended and helped to facilitate the ‘patient experience’ section of the monthly NHS board meeting. Each month a previous patient is invited to the meeting to give their honest experience of accessing NHS services, and this time around that came in the form of Expert Citizen Lee sharing his experience of accessing A&E during the period that he was experiencing homelessness.   Lee was asked to hold nothing back and be completely honest about his feelings around this, explaining how when he was homeless he tried to take him own life and that’s how he ended up in the A&E department. Lee felt that because his injuries were self-inflicted he was “shoved into a corner and forgotten about with nothing but a paper hat to be sick in”. He was then told at 11pm that he couldn’t leave until he signed a form saying he would attend a psychiatric appointment in Hanley the following morning at 9am. Lee signed this and left but did not attend the meeting the following morning. The board asked Lee if the staff knew he was homeless at the time. Lee’s… Continue Reading

New: Wellbeing Academy

VOICES wellbeing academy
By Saul Turner, Community Development coordinator, VOICES   A new venture called the Wellbeing Academy has recently opened its doors in our city, aimed at people wishing to improve mental health or that have lived experience of mental health issues, it is designed to provide workshops, activities and courses to develop a person’s skills, confidence and creativity, from anger management through to walking football, all ran through multi agency partnership working, there is something for everyone.   The current partners of the academy are Changes, Port Vale Football Club, Stoke on Trent City Council, Potteries Money Wise, Brighter Futures and North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare.   All of the course provided are free of charge and attendance does not impact on benefits.   People can do as many courses as they feel would be of benefit over the year. Courses run over 3 terms throughout the year. At the end of each year the opportunity to attend a ‘Graduation Ceremony’ where you will receive your certificates and congratulate yourself on your hard work.   “For many people, recovery is about staying in control of their lives despite experiencing a mental health challenge. Putting recovery into action means focusing on supporting recovery and building resilience, not just on treating or managing symptoms” Quote… Continue Reading

learning Programme: Safeguarding from abuse and neglect

VOICES safeguarding article
By Helen Jones, Adult Protection Team, Stoke-on-Trent City Council On Wednesday 13th February 2019 The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board (SSASPB) were delighted to welcome Sharon Sharman from VOICES and Lee from Expert Citizens to Staffordshire Police Headquarters to speak to an audience of 48 people who come into contact with adults who need safeguarding from abuse and neglect. This was the 2nd of 7 planned events to be held across the County of Staffordshire which aim to help professionals better understand how and why people self-neglect; and how they can improve their engagement with them. This series of events was arranged in response to a multi-agency review into the care and support provided to a 49 yr old Stoke-on-Trent man whose self-neglect contributed to his death. Whilst there was no blame attributed to the care provided we wanted to better understand what self-neglect is and the challenges presented to those who provide care and support to those who self-neglect.     Engagement is an essential element to supporting adults with care and support needs and Lee helped us to understand how that could be greatly improved through empathy and better knowledge about the reasons why people neglect themselves. Whilst Lee’s experiences were… Continue Reading

Scroll to Top