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Category: Web Log

Staffordshire Police: Mental Health Training Events

VOICES police mental health event
By Diane Malkin, Vulnerability Manager, Thematic Lead for Vulnerability and Mental Health, Staffordshire Police   As part of Staffordshire Police mental health training approx 3 years ago the Force, along with 3 other Forces, worked alongside the College of Policing to create a training product. This 2 day training package was embedded in to the Force and has seen almost 1,000 Officers and staff complete the course. As a Force we are holding 4 events from April to July across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent whereby Officers and staff have the opportunity to come along and listen to the stories of people with lived experience and also to link in with local service providers. Staffordshire Police are committed to ensure that Officers and staff receive the best training and development that they can provide and from this training we have listened to feedback and suggestions. We have listened to comments and feedback regarding having more development within what is for the Force a busy and sometimes complex area of demand.   As a Force we have worked hard over the last 4 years to improve the way we deal with mental health, this has seen great improvements in many areas including: Reducing the number of… Continue Reading

What on Earth is Motivational Interviewing?

VOICES Motivational Interviewing
By Steven Talbot, Learning and Development Consultant, Steven Talbot Consultancy   Ambivalence, oh my – just the word, it can be a real downer.  What does it actually mean?  There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ve all of us looked at the alarm clock (at the allotted ungodly hour for work) and listened to that inner voice that said, ‘nah…’ and wanted you to turn over and go back to sleep.  Then that **other** little voice in your head went, ‘you need to go to work,’ ’you can’t sleep the day away,’ ‘up and at ‘em!’  ‘Get up!  Get up!  GET UP!’  And we rolled out of bed, ate our breakfast, drank our coffee, stood under the shower and shook off voice number one that wanted us to just give up and stay in the warm, cosy bed.  It’s ambivalence that keeps many people from making positive changes in their lives. Greetings one and all, I’m learning and development consultant Steven Talbot and you’re reading my article about Motivational Interviewing. Now, I may have already bored you to tears, you’ve managed to get this far and then thought, ‘there are things I could be doing, like swilling a mug, buying a book,… Continue Reading

Shining a light on Social Work placements

VOICES shining a light
By Nicole Davies, Senior Lecturer and offsite educator of social work practice   I’ve worked as an offsite practice educator of BA and MA social work students for a number of years, with a wide range of organisations, and I can definitely, hand on heart, say that working with VOICES is always my favourite.   The focus of my practice with students is all about empowering, about supporting them to identify strengths and to make changes where necessary, all to best equip them for success in the future – exactly what the VOICES ethos seeks to do with, and for, every customer. Even though not yet qualified, the students have a real opportunity at VOICES to start making a difference. They are supported to grow, to push their comfort zone whilst they learn, but always in the knowledge that they can ask for help if anything starts to feel like too much. Moreover I feel supported too – my job, going as I do around many different PVI sector providers, can be an isolating one, fragmented and peripheral, but at VOICES there is always a warm welcome for me too – a cup of tea and helpful smiling faces ready to listen. No matter how complex… Continue Reading

Dates for your diary…

VOICES dates for diary
Multiple Disadvantage Day 2019 Over the last year the National Communications Group, comprising of representatives from all 12 fulfilling lives areas, have been in consultation with key stake holders and the National Expert Citizens Group and will be launching a dedicated Multiple Disadvantage Day, on July 3rd 2019. As a national voice for change we hope to raise awareness of the complicated and interconnected nature of the issues faced by some of the most marginalised and vulnerable members of our community, in a bid to reduce associated stigma and increase understanding as to why a person may find themselves experience multiple and complex needs. The campaign launches on Monday 3rd June 2019 so keep your eyes peeled on social media for material and information leading up to the big day on Wednesday 3rd July when Events will be happening across the UK.   Watch this space for updates and further details…     National Co-production Week 2019 National Co-production week is returning for its fourth consecutive year from the 1st – 5th  July 2019 an this year’s theme is ‘sharing power’. “For the fourth year running, Co-production Week will celebrate the benefits of co-production, share good practice and highlight the contribution of people who use services and carers to developing… Continue Reading

Universal Credit and Universal Credit Housing Costs: Prisoners

VOICES UC and prisoners
By Karen Dunn, Specialist benefits advisor, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent In this months installment from our resident benefits expert, Karen looks at the most up to date definitions and information around how prison sentences can affect Universal Credit claims and claimants. Prisoners For Universal Credit (UC) you are counted as a prisoner if you are: Detained in custody – whether pending trial, pending sentence, on conviction, or sentenced by a court; or On temporary release (home leave or release on temporary licence).   You cannot get UC standard allowance if you are a prisoner or a hospital detainee.   You can continue to get UC housing costs for the first 6 months if: You are single and were entitled to UC immediately before you became a prisoner; and The calculation of that award of UC included a UC housing costs element; and You have not been sentenced, or have been sentenced to a term that is not expected to exceed 6 months.   You do not count as a ‘prisoner’ for UC housing costs if you are detained in hospital (therefore if UC housing costs is in place when detained in hospital this will not be affected and will remain in pay)   Once you are… Continue Reading

Not just for Christmas…

VOICES not just for Christmas
By Dean Spruce, Communication & Media Coordinator, VOICES   The month is January, it’s cold, there’s snow on the ground, the Christmas holidays already seem like a distant memory and people have returned to work and to their regular routines. For some people however, the Christmas period doesn’t promise a welcome break, nor time spent with family or turkey dinners.  For those that find themselves outside, by which I mean sleeping rough, it represents the most difficult of all challenges – staying alive.  There is little time to worry about gifts or any of the other distractions that most of us are more than willing to engage in, when you have nowhere to go, no money and potentially only the clothes on your back to keep you warm.  For these people the Christmas period is most definitely not over.  The weather is getting worse as we head into 2019, the cold snaps temporarily delayed by the unusual lasting warmth of the previous summer have now firmly set in, and the risk to human life is high. Poverty in the UK is on the rise, recent figures published by Crisis revealed levels of rough sleeping – including sleeping on public transport and in tents – had doubled in… Continue Reading

Personal Independence Payment Assessments: Mental Health and ‘Good Reason’

VOICES pip good reason
A common issue arising from our work with VOICES is getting benefits reinstated or a claim re-opened, where a customer has not been able to take part in the face to face assessment process for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  It can also apply to assessments for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit limited capability for work/work related activity.   It has been said that the current assessment system inherently discriminates against people with mental health illness.  It is often the very symptoms of the person’s mental health that cause them such levels of distress that either they cannot attend the assessment at all, the assessment is stopped by the assessor or, the person walks out.  In our experience the situation concludes with a case manager at the DWP issuing a negative decision usually along the lines of, “we couldn’t complete the consultation because you didn’t fully take part and we don’t think you’ve given us a good reason for this” or, “your claim to benefit has been disallowed for failing to complete an assessment.”  Such decisions appear to reach the conclusion that non-attendance is due to a conscious choice rather than to any physical or mental health condition preventing their attendance… Continue Reading

Valuing lived experience and busting the lifestyle choice myth

VOICES lifestyle choices
Photo: Andy Meakin congratulating Jason Smith on his speech and poetry performance By Andy Meakin, VOICES Director This year’s national Insight Conference and Awards from Expert Citizens was spectacular.  From the moment our friend Bishop Geoff Annas opened proceedings, the event delivered one powerful message after another about lived experience as a vehicle for systems change. Jason Smith told his story of reflection and redemption from a prison cell.  Unable to free his body, Jason decided to free his mind.  The walls and bars could not confine his search for wisdom which began in the pages of comic books, then travelled through reading philosophy, and ultimately to self-expression through writing and performing poetry.  His journey of learning and growth is a humbling testimony.  People can and do change when the tools and services are accessible. Rideout, B-Arts, and Expert Citizens delivered a thought-provoking forum theatre based on real stories and experiences.  This demonstrated the barriers that people too often experience to both accessing services and to moving on from homelessness in to accommodation then employment. It would be difficult to overstate the powerful story told by Sammy Woodhouse of her experiences as a survivor of the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham.  Sammy chronicled in… Continue Reading

Welfare Benefits – Hints and Tips: Help to Save Account

VOICES help to save account
By Karen Dunn, Specialist Welfare Advisor, SNSCAB & Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager, VOICES   Help to Save is a new savings scheme for people on low incomes who are claiming certain benefits. Help to Save gives you a bonus payment from the government of up to 50% (half) on savings paid into the account.   How it works Help to Save is a type of savings account. It allows certain people entitled to Working Tax Credit or receiving Universal Credit to get a bonus of 50p for every £1 they save over 4 years. You get bonuses at the end of the second and fourth years. They’re based on how much you’ve saved. You can save up to £50 each calendar month. Help to Save is backed by the government so all savings in the scheme are secure.   What You Need to Apply Government Gateway User ID and password Details of your UK bank account.   Eligibility:  You can open a Help to Save Account if you are: entitled to Working Tax Credit and receiving Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit payments claiming Universal Credit and your household income in your last monthly assessment period was £542.88* or more living in the UK:  if… Continue Reading

Supervision: More questions than answers?

VOICES reflective pratice
Steve Freeman, Solution Focused Practitioner. www.stevefreeman.org.uk This article is late to press. It’s very, very late. I could claim that this is due to pressure of work, putting family first and any number of other reasons. The truth, however, is that the topic is overwhelming. This is the latest of several attempts that I’ve made at writing about supervision. And even now as the article is ready to submit I haven’t entirely succeeded. I’m the first to recognise that I should know better. I’ve been using, providing and researching supervision for decades. And yet…..when it comes to summarising the available information I’ve been stumped. For this reason I’ve decided to give a personal overview of the topic based on my reflective practice portfolio. This is produced as part of my nursing registration process. The contains a few references and other anchor points and observations of what works well. These are based on observation and feedback from both people that I’ve supervised and colleagues who work as supervisors. It’s worth considering what ‘supervision’ means. It isn’t ‘clinical supervision’ as described in much of the health related literature and yet it has common factors with it. Definitions of supervision vary greatly. For many practitioners supervision is… Continue Reading

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