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Category: News

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

Hanley week of action

VOICES a week of action
By Steve Willis, Service Coordinator, VOICES   During December PC James Howard of Hanley Police led plans to set up a week of action to help the homeless at Christmas. The aim was to provide a location for people experiencing homelessness to access a warm safe space where they could have a hot drink, food and engage with support services. A mobile Police station was set up on a carpark at the top of Lichfield street, just opposite Hanley Bus station.   Representatives of VOICES, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Housing Options, Brighter Futures Rough sleeper team and the Macari Centre frequented the location through the week alongside PC Howard. There were a lot of donations made for the van by the Brighter Futures Rough Sleeper’s Team, Hanley Bus Station, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Stoke Community Drug and Alcohol Service, The Royal Voluntary Service, The Police, Number Eleven and the Macari Centre. These donations included food, clothes, handwarmers, foil blankets and shoe boxes gift wrapped containing useful items. Over 25 people attended through the week (we lost track of the exact number due to times when the van was very busy and literally overflowing). Throughout the week 8 people were accommodated and more were accommodated soon after as a… Continue Reading

Learning Programme Update

VOICES learning programme
By Sharon Sharman, Learning & Evaluation Manager, VOICES The VOICES citywide partnership learning programme continues to engage professionals and services from across Stoke-on-Trent.  In 2018 we achieved delivery of: Working with Expert Citizens C.I.C. we also codesigned and co delivered bespoke workshops with specialist teams:  these included engaging with Consultants, Nursing Teams, Administration and Occupational Therapy Teams within the Accident and Emergency Department at Royal Stoke Hospital and, more recently, the Stoke and Staffordshire Adult Safeguarding Board.   All our learning events offer delegates the opportunity to provide feedback, including ideas for future events.  People who attended last years’ events requested further opportunities to better understand mental ill health and ‘trending drugs’ as well as preventing death by drugs.  We have responded to these requests by commissioning high quality courses that meet these requirements.   New courses can be viewed on the VOICES website at http://www.voicesofstoke.org.uk/learning/   If you have requested your details to be added to our learning contact list, you will receive automatic notifications of new opportunities.  If you are not currently on our list, you can request to be included by contacting me directly at Sharon.sharman@voicesofstoke.org.uk    … Continue Reading

Employment Opportunity: Community Development Coordinator

join the team
Job Title: Community Development Coordinator (VOICES) Contract: Permanent post Salary: £19,780.92 Hours: 37 hours per week, Monday – Friday, usually 9am to 5pm, although some flexibility may be required. Closing date: Monday 28th January 2019 Interview date: Wednesday 6th February 2019   This is a unique job opportunity to work as part of a vibrant and supportive team and we are now recruiting for a Community Development Coordinator. This is an excellent opportunity to add to your existing skillset and to be part of a unique programme with a national profile. You will have the opportunity to take part in a comprehensive learning programme and work alongside people with lived experience of multiple needs. 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 the Head of Service Delivery, Bruno Ornelas.   Downloads: Full job description Application form   If you are shortlisted for interview, you may be required to do a short presentation. Details will then be sent to successful applicants prior to the interview date. These posts are funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund until 2022. Brighter Futures is an… Continue Reading

A Model of Specialist Welfare Advice and Advocacy at VOICES

VOICES CAB report
VOICES Stoke-on-Trent seeks to empower people with multiple needs such as mental ill-health, substance misuse and homelessness to change their lives and to influence services. The programme is aimed at testing alternative approaches to supporting people with multiple needs through casework and assertive advocacy to help people access services, with Service Coordination being at the core of the programme.   A Citizens Advice (CA) adviser in work and benefits from Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent (CASNS) is funded by VOICES and embedded full time in the VOICES team. This report presents the findings of a small-scale independent evaluation of this model of  providing benefits advice to people with multiple needs. The findings are based on analysis of monitoring data, case studies and interviews with the CA Adviser, a VOICES Service Coordinator and the VOICES Director.     To find out more about how VOICES and Citizens Advice North and Stoke-on-Trent are working together and how this impacts on the support we are able to provide click here and read the full report.… Continue Reading

Small change to system change in Stoke-on-Trent

VOICES small change to system change
Lee Dale – Expert Citizens C.I.C. Mandy Jago – Volunteer VOICES and Expert Citizens C.I.C. Board Member Sharon Sharman – Learning and Evaluation Manager VOICES   A Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE) “…is one that takes into account the psychological makeup – the thinking, emotions, personalities and past experience – of it’s participants in the way that it operates” (Robin Johnson http://pielink.net/ 2012).   Many of the customers homeless services work with may seem to have difficulty managing their emotions, can appear impulsive and may not consider the consequences of their actions.  They may also appear to be withdrawn, isolated and seemingly reluctant to engage with support and / or exhibit anti-social type behaviours.  The purpose of PIE is to help staff understand where these behaviours are coming from and, therefore, work more creatively and effectively with people. (adapted from Psychologically Informed Environments; Westminster City Council 2015)   How can we create a psychologically safe environment in our Emergency Department for people who have experienced multiple emotional traumas and are experiencing homelessness?   This conversation started some time ago with Julie Norton, an Accident and Emergency (A and E) consultant from the Royal Stoke University Hospital.  Julie had approached VOICES to seek ways of supporting departmental staff in developing best practice to support… Continue Reading

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

Listening, learning, and leading through the lived experience of local people with multiple needs.

Coordinating services with people experiencing homelessness, mental-ill health, addiction, and offending in combination.

Happy to discuss housing, homelessness, and related issues in Stoke-on-Trent in this roundtable with John Healey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, Gareth Snell MP and Ruth Smeeth MP. Always happy to share our experiences and thoughts with politicians and other decision makers local or national.

I was delighted to be joined by John Healey MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing recently for a roundtable event with local charities and housing providers to discuss the housing challenges we face in the city, and how national and local government policy could offer an better deal to Stoke-on-Trent.

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