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Category: News

Peer Mentoring Training

VOICES mentoring
Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager – VOICES, and Penny Vincent, Senior Lecturer Community Engagement and Community Partnerships – Staffordshire University From co-production to co-delivery VOICES worked with Expert Citizens and Staffordshire University to coproduce an accredited Peer Mentoring course at level 3.  Our collaboration developed over six-months. This was between myself for VOICES, Penny Vincent of the University, with Rachele Hine and Michelle Daniels leading for Expert Citizens.  Rachele and Michele used their know-how to steer the group with the design of the course as we co-produced every aspect of content during the development phase.  In July 2017, the first pilot course began to live test the content with six-students.  Penny describes the process, outcome, and next steps:   “I am privileged to have a role at Staffordshire University which involves me in developing community partnerships for mutual benefit. I have met people from Voices and Expert Citizens on various occasions since 2014: in connection with the 1000 Lives Network and with Staffordshire University’s CHAD centre on a research project of City Centre Street Activity.  Co-production is my specialism – I am a community development worker by background, so I was thrilled to be able to work closely with Rachele, Michelle and Sharon, with my… Continue Reading

Take home Naloxone kits are saving lives

VOICES naloxone
Author: Dean Spruce, Comms & Media, VOICES Naloxone Training Last week the VOICES team received vital training from Stoke on Trent Community Drug and Alcohol Service alongside NHS Combined Healthcare about Naloxone, the emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates/opioids (such as methadone, morphine and fentanyl). The main life-threatening effect of heroin and other opiates is to slow down and stop breathing. Naloxone blocks this effect and reverses the breathing difficulties. Naloxone is a prescription-only medicine and cannot therefore be sold over the counter. It can however be supplied without prescription by drug services and can be used by anyone to save a life in an emergency. Delivered by Stuart Fisher, Steve McDonald and Allan Sargent the training talked the team through how the antidote works on the body and what to do in an emergency situation, including the safe administering of the drug. Following a short test all who attended were issued with a certificate and an emergency Naloxone kit to be carried whilst working on the front line and out in the community. Since December 2016, 500 kits have been distributed by the trio and to date there have been 13 known (recorded) reversals from overdose. In addition to… Continue Reading

New Psychoactive Substances – N.P.S. – Real Experience’s

VOICES handshake
Author: Sharon Sharman, Learning & Evaluation Manager, VOICES Expert Citizens, VOICES and RE SOLV have co designed and recently co delivered a learning opportunity to the VOICES partnership. Lee – Expert Citizen and VOICES peer mentor, and Dan from RE SOLV designed the course to incorporate professional training with insight from lived experiences.  The course covered: What do we mean by the term ‘legal highs’/NPS? What substances are currently being abused and what are the effects and associated risks? Stereotypes, prevalence and reasons for use Comparisons of use to illegal substances Mortality statistics and associated dangers Manufacturing and availability Challenges facing the control of NPS through legislation Effective interventions and treatment options Risks to health and harm reduction Best practice guidelines   Attendees all stated that, following the session, they had increased knowledge, increased understanding and increased confidence to support customers who are at risk of using NPS or are currently using NPS.  Feedback comments included: “The session was extremely informative and all of the topics were covered in depth”          “I Feel a lot more confident in this area specifically about identifying use & giving advice for users”Continue Reading

Homeless people have the right to register with a G.P

VOICES GP access cards
Author: Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES Expert Citizens, Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent, and VOICES have launched a card designed to help homeless people register with a doctor. The card is designed so that homeless people and their support workers can easily remind GP practice staff that they have a right to access the primary healthcare that they need.  NHS England sets out clear guidance stating that homeless people do not need to provide proof of identification when applying to register with a NHS doctor. Despite this, homeless people are often asked to provide identification documents as a condition of registration with a practice. People experiencing homelessness are among the most at risk of premature death. “Homeless people are more likely to die young, with an average age of death of 47 years old and even lower for women at 43.” Crisis & University of Sheffield (2012), “Homelessness Kills”, page 4.   Andy Meakin, Project Director at VOICES, said: “The support of a GP is often vital for homeless people to secure access to other needed services.  This includes mental health support, drug or alcohol treatment, or a social care intervention, for example.  However, a GP may also be able to help people access housing and welfare benefits by providing evidence of their… Continue Reading

All together now

VOICES all together now
Author: Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES I read an exciting document about commissioning today. You’re thinking ‘yeah, right’. But, it’s true. The New Local Government Network and Lankelly Chase have put together an excellent pamphlet published in April 2016. It’s called “All Together Now: Whole Systems Commissioning for Councils and the Voluntary Sector.” This document articulates many of the thoughts that have been mulling around in my head for about a decade. No one organisation has a hand on all the levers necessary to deliver a truly effective response for people with multiple or complex needs. Yet, commissioning processes continue to operate in silos. These may be organisation or discipline based. Similarly, they pursue a paradigm where efficiency and value emerge through the competitive processes of the market. Performance measures are set at the level of individual service providers. Contract management is often target driven and follows a conformance to specification model. Commissioners themselves are tied up in short-term cycles for services that are meant to be tackling long-term social problems. Inevitably, the emerging dynamic is a process driven system that encourages blame shifting behaviours. ‘All Together Now’ argues for a new commissioning paradigm. It is a vision characterised by cooperation and coproduction between people,… Continue Reading

Debra Farr wins INSIGHT 2016 Listening to People Award

VOICES deb farr
Debra Farr, a Support Worker at the Salvation Army in Stoke, wins the INSIGHT 2016 Listening to People Award. Expert Citizens were impressed by how Debra used her active listening skills to understand the situation faced by a couple experiencing homelessness. The couple had been unable to access accommodation together and had found their condition deteriorating due to rough sleeping. Working via a multi-agency meeting, Debra demonstrated flexibility in agreeing to work with the couple despite what had been at times their volatile relationship. This helped to get the couple off the streets. The risk and harm associated with rough sleeping was reduced. As a result, their health and wellbeing improved.… Continue Reading

Bridget Bennett wins INSIGHT 2016 Learning from People Award

VOICES Bridget Bennet
Bridget Bennett, Integration Team manager, Community Wellbeing service, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, wins the INSIGHT 2016 Learning from People Award. Expert Citizens were delighted with Bridget’s efforts, who has been proactive in recognising multiple needs in the context of the recent Care Act. Leading a team of social work professionals, Bridget has helped social care services to be more accessible. Bridget is supporting colleagues to take part in specific training focused on multiple needs as part of their continuing professional development. This is beginning to strengthen the relationship between social care, health, and third sector partners. Pictured with Bridget is Expert Citizen Karen McCall who presented the Award.  … Continue Reading

Angela Culley wins INSIGHT 2016 Welcoming People award

Angela Culley, a Specialist Midwife at the University Hospital of North Midlands Trust, wins the INSIGHT 2016 Welcoming People Award. Supporting women with multiple needs through pregnancy as a Specialist Midwife, Expert Citizens noted Angela uses a welcoming, flexible and non-judgemental approach to maintain engagement. The mothers’ Angela works with comment that they appreciate her friendly and openhearted manner. Keeping relevant services in each case fully up to date, Angela works tirelessly to minimise risk, reduce harm, and maximise the likelihood of a successful pregnancy and positive start in a new life. Pictured with Angela is Expert Citizens Debbie Smith who presented the Award.… Continue Reading

Epilicia: How Epilepsy gave me a new nickname

VOICES blog epilepsy
Author: Alicia Simmons, Service Coordinator, VOICES March the 26th was Epilepsy Awareness Day. Service Coordinator Alicia describes how her life changed after being diagnosed with Epilepsy and how it changed her perspective of supporting people with multiple needs who have Epilepsy. According to the European Journal of Public Health, people experiencing homelessness are 8 times more likely to have Epilepsy.  Six months ago I was an independent woman, I didn’t need help from anyone.  I had enjoyed my teenage years like most teenagers – (drinking white lightening at the park and lying to your parents about where you had been) – I had left home for university, gained my degree, backpacked around the world for 3 years, returned to the UK with bracelets adorning both arms with numerous feathers in my hair, was working a job I loved supporting the most vulnerable adults in Stoke and was supporting myself quite successfully!  Then I had a seizure. It was a traumatic experience, but much more so for my partner who had to save my life, than it was for me.  As far as I’m concerned, I have no memory of the event, so I ‘wasn’t there’.  My boyfriend who had to drag me off… Continue Reading

Do It Right – The First Time

VOICES blog Willis
Author: Steve Willis, Service Coordinator, VOICES Bills, food, bus travel, clothes, rent… money, money, money. We live in a society where just one month of unstable income could lead to disaster. We live in a society which has made a promise to help the most vulnerable.  Like those who are ill.  Like those who rely on welfare benefits to cover their daily finances. We live in a society where people have to make multiple phone calls and fill in endless forms to get the money they are entitled to receive. We live in a society where people have to be employed to assist vulnerable people to apply for and manage their benefits. We live in a society where applications for benefits are declined despite all the boxes being ticked and appropriate evidence provided. We live in a society where many claims won’t be allowed until the first, second or third appeal. We live in a society where people are waiting for months – sometimes more – before they are awarded the benefits they are entitled to. We live in a society where people are suffering because the systems didn’t do their job right the first time.… Continue Reading