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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

Lee’s story part 3: From volunteering to employment

Lee Dale, Community Development Coordinator of VOICES, talks to us about his 10 year journey from rough sleeping to his recent full time employment.… Continue Reading

Hardship, Poverty & Food Banks

In this short case study Anna talks about the origins and necessity of our Food Banks, and how this relates to our customers who are often rough sleeping.… 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

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

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