01782 450760

Category: News

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

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

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.

  • enquiries@voicesofstoke.org.uk
  • 01782 450760
Scroll to Top