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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

Supported housing and hospital admission

VOICES case study 11
*Names have been changed to protect identity.   There were two main bodies involved during the time Adam was noticeably exposed to complex exclusion barriers. These were the local authority and the last hostel that Adam’s bed was closed at whilst he was in hospital. Adam has been homeless or residing within hostels for many years, suffering from substance misuse and mental illness. Recently Adam was admitted to hospital following serious health concerns. During his inpatient stay and subsequent operation his bed space at the hostel was closed leaving Adam homeless when fit for discharge from the hospital. The hostels reasoning was that Housing Benefit will not pay for more than 7 nights whilst absent from the hostel and therefore the bed was closed. This presented a major problem for Adam to get another form of housing in place to prevent homelessness. The barriers Adam faced were in line with the findings of Public Health England’s health profile of Stoke on Trent’, published in June 2015, which concluded that the health of people in the city is generally poor and stating People facing homelessness, who are often already struggling financially, have far less choice and frequently end up in poor quality accommodation. Bruno Ornelas… Continue Reading

The possibility of self exclusion

VOICES case study 10
*Names have been changed to protect identity.   Simon had been picked up onto VOICES caseload via the outreach partnership work between VOICES and the Police in the town centre. He initially refused most help offered to him including support to claim benefits, access accommodation and access primary healthcare, simply stating that he was working on “healing” his back so that he could return to work. Through small interactions the SC (Service Coordinator) built up trust with Simon and Simon agreed to go to his GP with the SC to ask for help regarding his back pain. Simon’s long-term aim was to heal the back enough to be able to work again; he felt that he managed the pain well but wanted to strengthen and rehabilitate it. Simon received a prescription for pain killers and a referral to Physiotherapy from his GP, he seemed happy with this outcome. The SC introduced Simon to a Citizen’s Advice Bureau benefits advisor and a service which works with immigrants to see if they could explore any support which may be useful. The outcome was that Simon may not be able to claim benefits but it wasn’t clear due to Simon’s lack of documents and with the… Continue Reading

Multiple and Complex Exclusion

VOICES case study 09
*Names have been changed to protect identity   Emma has a long history of rough sleeping and none engagement with services. There has been prolific offending, mainly with antisocial behaviour in and around the town centre. Emma is known to take substances and drink heavily when not in prison. Alongside her addictions Emma does suffer with poor mental health and it is believed there is a diagnoses of schizophrenia/personality disorder. Whilst in prison Emma’s mental health is stabilized with medication and once released no follow up appointments are kept due to Emma rough sleeping. There is evidence to suggest that Emma may be exploited by others. She has no benefits in place and she states this has been the case for the past twelve months. Even though she has no income Emma can fund her habit. Also, Emma has been known to stay with males who have their own property and pay nothing towards the costs. Emma is known to be abusive to services who are trying to support her needs. A lot of aggression and threats appear to be directed at female professionals. This results in Emma being excluded from most services. Unfortunately, the lifestyle Emma leads results in her not getting to correct… Continue Reading

Sharing is caring: 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

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

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

Prison and Rough Sleeping

VOICES audio case study
VOICES Communications officer Dean Spruce speaks to a VOICES customer who has recently been released from prison, about their experience and what has happened since being released. … Continue Reading

Universal Credit – Making a new claim

VOICES audio case study
VOICES service coordinator Anna Mather asks her customer how they found the process of making a fresh claim for Universal Credit.  … Continue Reading

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