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Hard Edges 2018 – Stoke-on-Trent

VOICES Hard Edges 2018
In 2015 Lankelly Chase published the Hard Edges report to explore the prevalence, nature, geographical spread and costs associated with severe and multiple disadvantages (SMD) in England. The report had great resonance with those seeking to improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness, substance misuse and offending in our city.   In 2016 Hard Edges Stoke-on-Trent was produced (which can be found here), based on data from 22 customers of the VOICES service, replicating the methodology used by Lankelly Chase. This work was well received and constituted a useful way of describing the impact of Service Coordination though the lens of customers’ service contact and the potential financial implications of this.     VOICES, in partnership with Lankelly Chase and Expert Citizens, have recently repeated this exercise in Hard Edges 2018, with a larger cohort of customers and longer observation periods giving more robust findings. Click here to read the full report      … Continue Reading

Access to Primary Care Services for Patients with “No Fixed Abode” – A follow-up to the Gatekeepers Report

VOICES GP report 2
Over the past 18 Months our partners at Expert Citizens have been host to 2 rotations of 5, year 5 GP students from Keele University. The first rotation – August to December 2017, conducted research to gauge the reach of the GP cards produced as learning from the original report (which can be found here). These cards were distributed across the city for those who were finding it difficult to register with a GP. The cards state that the person wanting to register does not require identification or an address to register.   The second rotation, December 2017 to March 2018, reviewed findings from the first rotation and studied the Gatekeepers report (2016). Together with Expert Citizens, they agreed to duplicate the mystery shopping exercise. Using the same script as in Gatekeepers (2016) the student group evidenced their findings as a direct result in the following report.   The aim of this project is to evaluate access to primary care services for patients with no fixed abode and to establish if there has been any change in the willingness of primary care services to accept NFA patients compared to when the first Gatekeepers report was produced back in 2016. Click here to read the full… Continue Reading

City Centre Life Project – A new initiative to support people in the city centre

VOICES city centre life project
By Steve Barkess, Community Development Coordinator, VOICES & Lisa Tomkinson, My Community Matters   A new project based in the city centre is currently being piloted to help people who are street homeless or presenting as homeless in the Hanley area. The initial project is to engage with individuals who would ordinarily have nowhere to go and to allow peer led learning. This project has been commissioned by the City Centre Task to Finish Group and is being hosted and delivered by Community Ventures.   So, what is this all for? The aim of this service is not only to give people an opportunity to get some respite from residing on the streets but also to allow them to find a safe space to relax and make some social connections and access meaningful activities. The hope is that those who attend will help to shape the way the group works and make decisions on what they would like to do. Currently there are opportunities for people to get refreshments have a conversation with the staff and maybe play a game or two whilst having the opportunity to connect with new people. The hope is that they will soon be able to get other advisory services involved… Continue Reading

Services for people experiencing homelessness in Stoke-on-Trent

services for homeless people
By Dean Spruce, Communication and Media Coordinator, VOICES   Back in 2008, following the tragic death of two rough sleepers in a disused building, Stoke-on-Trent city council, Fire Service and Brighter Futures produced a series of posters and leaflets that provided all the important emergency contact information for people who are faced with the prospect of rough sleeping.   This information has proved invaluable to those directly affected by homelessness, as well as organisations and services that work in and around homelessness, but also to commercial businesses and other public services in the city that may not necessarily have been aware of the support networks in place to assist in the event of homelessness occurring. Unfortunately the posters and leaflets were eventually discontinued,  but in 2014 the VOICES project relaunched this initiative, and we intend to maintain this valuable resource, adapting it to a wallet/purse sized format and keeping the contact information as up to date as possible.   The latest version of the ‘Services for People experiencing homelessness’ fold out directory is now out, with a fresh new look, comprising of a comprehensive list of appropriate services, and including a full colour map.   VOICES have already distributed a significant amount of these to the various services around… Continue Reading

Co-Creation – So much more than consultation

VOICES Coproduction
Dr John Wheeler, Associate Dean in the School of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University explains why.   On 28th June 2018 Staffordshire University held its annual Teaching and Learning Conference.  This is an opportunity for colleagues to share with each other the best practice that they have developed through their own teaching on our vast array of subjects and courses.  This year’s Conference had an emphasis on ‘co-creation’ of learning opportunities and teaching methods between staff of the university and a range of other stakeholders, including academic partners, employers, professional bodies and, of course, students. I was privileged to be asked to chair one of several parallel workshop sessions during the Conference.  The first presentation of this session was entitled “Peer Mentor training: from co-production to co-delivery”.  This was facilitated by three people – Penny Vincent, who is extremely active in community-based work and who I know well as we have both worked at the University for many years, Sharon Sharman – Learning and Evaluation Manager from VOICES – a Big Lottery Funded project that I was unaware of until now, and a guy called Dan Jones, more about him shortly.  From start to finish I was very impressed with this… Continue Reading

Novel Psychoactive Substances: practice implications and solutions

VOICES NPS
By Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES A multi-disciplinary community of practice   VOICES is hosting a Community of Practice to look at the issue of novel psychoactive substances (NPS), the implications of use for practice, and potential local solutions.   The event is aimed at professionals with interest in NPS use and its implications for practice, social policy, or strategy in the context of health, social care, criminal justice, or community safety.  We will be inviting people with lived experience of NPS use to participate in the community and give their perspective on this topical issue.  Previously referred to as ‘legal highs’, last year the sale of NPS was banned by Parliament in May 2016.   NPS use has been portrayed in the popular media as an epidemic of criminality and antisocial behaviour.  In March 2017, the Daily Mail ran an on-line story under the headline “Rise of the zombies”.1  The article states that, “drug experts are warning of a Spice epidemic that is spreading from the North-West, driving a wave of crime and casualties that the police and emergency services are struggling to cope with.” Since the introduction of the ban, many observers note that the price of these substances has fallen while availability has increased.  It’s argued… Continue Reading

Evaluation update

VOICES eval
By Becky Rice, Local Evaluator   In the coming week’s two outputs from the local evaluation will be published on the VOICES website:   Hard Edges in Stoke-on-Trent (ii) explores how contact with criminal justice and some health services has been impacted by customers engaging with VOICES. Once again, data shows that service coordination reduces customer’s contacts such as A&E attendances and arrests.   The second report will explore the role of the CAB specialist advisor within the Service Coordination Team at VOICES – this approach has had many benefits for customers and the team are keen to share learning from the experience.   Please look out for the VOICES stakeholder survey 2018 – it’s that time again, we will be seeking feedback from a wide range of stakeholders about our work. This is essential to help us learn and improve – and to feedback to our Big Lottery funders.… Continue Reading

Transatlantic Practice Exchange 2018

VOICES transatlantic practice exchange
We would like to give our congratulations to our very own Steven Barkess, who has been awarded a placement on this year’s programme. Steve is one of only five lucky individuals who will be adventuring to the United States this spring in order to share good practice and exchange learning when working with homelessness and its surrounding issues. The Transatlantic Practice Exchange 2018 is supported by the Oak Foundation and delivered in partnership with the National Alliance to End Homelessness. We would also like to extend a warm welcome to Jessica McKown, all the way from Pennsylvania, who will soon be joining us here in the office, hosted by our partners at Expert Citizens.   We look forward to getting to know Jessica during her time with us here in Stoke and hope we can support her in her learning around the impact of co-production.   The UK participants are: Ed Addison, St Mungo’s in London – responding to long-term street homelessness through multi-disciplinary outreach Flora Newbigin, Cardboard Citizens in London – using theatre to involve people with lived experience Rachel Inman, Elim Connect Centre in Wells – peer support and community involvement in rural homelessness settings Rachel Woolf, The Manna at St Stephen’s in London -… Continue Reading

Ensuring our customers achieve their financial entitlement with a SAWBA

VOICES courtroom
By Karen Dunn, Specialist Benefits Advisor, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent At VOICES the customer risk assessment process involves giving much consideration to a person’s levels of safety and wellbeing in addition to other risks identified and is termed a Safety and Wellbeing Assessment (SAWBA) in preference to ‘risk assessment’.   Each SAWBA identifies the level of risk to: the emotional well-being physical health of the customer risks associated with their substance misuse, behaviour, offending and homelessness / housing risks from others   The SAWBA also considers the financial capability for each person. These are all highly relevant factors for PIP and ESA claims and can be used to support entitlement and other criteria; for example:  evidence of why a customer is unable to attend an assessment and / or evidence of why a customer is unable to return a completed form in time.  The SAWBA includes information contained within each risk category that provides the reader with valuable context, background and history.  Being able to communicate a ‘bigger picture’ is particularly useful when medical evidence is not available. Once a SAWBA is completed I am able to use the information to prepare for my first meeting with the customer. It provides me with… Continue Reading

Exciting Opportunity – Join the VOICES team

VOICES team
VOICES is a partnership of voluntary, statutory, and private sector organisations that works to create cultural and systems change in the way that services are delivered for people experiencing a combination of homelessness, addiction, mental ill health and offending. People with multiple needs often encounter difficulties in accessing support and often experience exclusion from services. VOICES supports its partners and relevant agencies in their efforts to engage people with multiple needs and to articulate an authentic and legitimate ‘community voice’ for people with a lived experience of those needs.   Working as part of a vibrant and supportive team we are now recruiting for the following key positions:   1 x Service Coordinator, Salary: £20,971.60 plus benefits.   Working as part of a vibrant and supportive team of System Brokers, Service Coordinators, Community Development Coordinators, Expert Citizens, Students and Volunteers you will be creative and understanding of the needs of customers who are experiencing multiple needs. You will be proactive in developing effective service coordination plans and advocate the case for customer access through the available service systems by encouraging a focus on their strengths and assets as appropriate.   Closing date for the post is Monday 30th April 2018, at 5pm.   Interview date (if shortlisted) for the… Continue Reading

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