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Making a homeless application

VOICES making a homeless aplication
By Geoff Davies, Specialist Housing Advisor, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent   Introduction This is a briefing note for support workers who are assisting customers to make a homelessness application to the Local Authority. It explains what the customer should take with them and what questions the local authority might ask the customer.  It also outlines the law in this area and what legal duties, if any, the local authority might have towards the customer.  It also explains what to do if the Council refuses to help the customer. The guide also provides a standard letter for making a homelessness application in writing.   Preparing for the interview The customer will need to explain to the local authority why they are homeless or why they are about to become homeless.  The customer should also inform the Council if they have nowhere to stay that night. It may be worth making some notes of what the customer wants to say before the interview so that nothing is forgotten. It might be useful to take the following information;   Proof of identity (birth certificate or passport if possible). Tenancy agreement, if the customer has one Evidence of why the customer has to leave the home, such as an eviction notice,… Continue Reading

Care Act Advocacy Training

VOICES care act advocacy
Ruth Francis, Service Manager, Inspiring Change Manchester   On the 18th June VOICES delivered Care Act Advocacy Training to the Inspiring Change Manchester Service Delivery Team. Below Ruth Francis, ICM Service Manager, kindly gives us some feedback and shares with us how the learning has been useful in practice:   Feedback – Frontline staff and Managers found this training very useful and informative.  Bruno (VOICES) is a very knowledgeable facilitator who knows about the subject matter and was able to talk through the toolkit and different options available to staff when working with vulnerable adults and people at risk.  Staff advised that they now feel much more confident in challenging the decisions of the local authority, and have a better understanding of the options available to them in order to advocate better for clients and can identify the appropriate way forward, whether that be raising a safeguarding concern or requesting an assessment or both.   Examples of where this has already changed staff action  – since the training an Engagement Worker has made a referral for an assessment for a homeless man (previously we had only raised safeguarding concerns for this person) –  the local authority have agreed to carry out an assessment involving a capacity… Continue Reading

There are few guarantors in life

VOICES there are few guarantors in life
By Geoff Davies, Specialist Housing Advisor, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent   Increasingly, landlords in the private sector are asking prospective tenants to provide a guarantor before agreeing to let a property to them. A “Guarantor” is the person that chooses to accept the liability on behalf the tenant in the event of the tenant being unable to meet their obligations under the tenancy agreement, whether it is for rent arrears or damage to the property.   The guarantor will normally be asked to sign a guarantor agreement.  This provides the landlord with increased security at no extra cost. For some prospective tenants it can be difficult to find a guarantor.  They may have no family, be estranged from family or have family and friends who are unwilling or lack the means to act as a guarantor. A guarantor is all about providing the landlord with a sense of financial security should things go wrong.  So if a tenant can provide the landlord with a substitute form of security then the landlord may be willing to compromise. This article looks at what other options a prospective tenant may have if they cannot provide a guarantor.   Good rental History If a prospective tenant has a rental history of… Continue Reading

Get Talking Hardship

VOICES Get Talking Hardship
By Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES   This may be an apocryphal story, I can’t remember where I heard it, but it illustrates a point… A doctor was about to do a first shift in charge of a busy A&E department and expressed some anxiety to their supervisor.  Their supervising consultant offered some coaching through the following advice: “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, under pressure, so you don’t know where to turn, or what to do, if you feel lost and alone.  Don’t hesitate to cope.” The message was that struggle is normal, rely on your training and skills, rely on your network of colleagues, overcome problems, grow, and be ‘resilient’.   Promoting resilience has become an inescapable message of public dialogue on hardship and wellbeing.  I think we need to re-examine this refrain.   The implication of the resilience narrative – for some – is that the solution to hardship and poverty is found in the individual.  And, that hardship and poverty, as well as its consequences for physical and mental wellbeing, is the result of ‘lifestyle choices’. Our popular dialogue on the subject tends to organise – consciously or otherwise – into categories of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor.  Sadly, we sometimes see these judgements documented in eligibility criteria that… Continue Reading

Get Talking Hardship: July 2019

Get Talking Hardship was a community research project commissioned by the Hardship Commission in Stoke-on-Trent and funded by The National Lottery Community Fund through VOICES. The research was led by Staffordshire University.… Continue Reading

Join the VOICES team: Systems Change Manager

VOICES join our team
This is a unique job opportunity to work as part of a vibrant and supportive team and we are now recruiting for a Systems Change Manager.  This is an excellent prospect to add to your existing skillset and to be part of a unique programme with a national profile.  You will be taking a leading role in a comprehensive programme of systems change and working alongside people with lived experience of multiple needs.  You will be using your project, contract, and change management skills to help us make a permanent difference for people experiencing multiple needs in Stoke-on-Trent.  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 Andy Meakin.   Please also visit www.voicesofstoke.org.uk for further information.   Job Title:    Systems Change Manager (VOICES) Contract:    Permanent post Salary:        £31.212 per annum Hours:        37 hours per week, Monday – Friday, usually 9am to 5pm, although some flexibility may be required. Job Ref: A505   Closing date:               Monday, 24th June 2019 Interview date:           Monday, 1st July 2019   Click here to download the full job description   To apply for this position download and application form here… Continue Reading

Universal Credit: Complex Needs Alerts

VOICES complex needs alert
By Karen Dunn, Specialist Welfare Benefits Team, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent   Navigating the intricacies of the Welfare Benefits system can be daunting.  Making a new claim for benefit is just the start.  It is important then, that we alert the DWP to anything that will prevent our customers from managing and maintaining their claim, sooner rather than later.  Especially so with the introduction of Universal Credit and ‘digital by default’.   If we are supporting people experiencing multiple and complex needs with their benefit issues, we need to understand that the DWP definition of ‘vulnerability’ and ‘complex needs’ may not be the same as our own.   The DWP definition of vulnerability is “An individual; who is identified as having complex needs and/or requires additional support to enable them to access DWP benefits and use our services.” Its aim is to provide a service that is, “equal in quality and outcome to those whose needs are not complex”.   Its definition of complex needs for Universal Credit purposes is that “the claimant may need additional or different support if it is likely that they will have difficulty:   Accessing UC Proving eligibility for UC Fulfilling the Labour Market requirements Maintaining their UC account or,Continue Reading

‘Fees Fees, tell me more’ – New Tenant Fees Act

VOICES tenant fees act 2
By Geoff Davies, Housing Advice Specialist, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent   The new Tenant Fees Act comes into force on the 1st June capping the amount that renters can be charged for a deposit and banning letting fees altogether as part of the Government’s bid to reduce hidden costs for tenants.   The Government expects to save tenants across England at least £240 million a year through the changes. The new act applies to new tenancies, including replacement tenancies entered into on or after the 1st June 2019.  It will then apply to other existing tenancies from the 1st June 2020. If a tenant entered into a tenancy before 1 June 2019, a landlord or agent will still be able to charge fees up until 31 May 2020, but only where these are required under an existing tenancy agreement. This might include, for example, fees to renew a fixed-term agreement where a tenant had already agreed to pay these. The ban applies to all assured shorthold tenancies, tenancies of student accommodation and licences to occupy housing in the private rented sector in England. Most tenancies in the private rented sector are assured shorthold tenancies   Under the new legislation the only payments in connection with… Continue Reading

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

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