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Trapped in unemployment

VOICES trapped in unemployment
By Steve Barkess, Community Development Coordinator, VOICES   Throughout the UK there are many people who reside in supported housing and may also receive a support element to this to assist their transition to live an independent and fulfilling life.  For many, this will mean finding employment, either full or part time, depending on their circumstances.  Many housing providers and associations provide intensive support to their customers to help them to develop these new skills; and over the years there have been many work-based programme’s which aim to support people back into education, training and/or employment.   For much of my career I have worked alongside projects of this kind, which are usually aimed at some of the most vulnerable people within our community, many of whom live in supported housing. So, what is supported housing?  The basis of any housing support service is to provide support to people with a variety of needs.  Within my own experiences this has focused on multiple and complex needs such as homelessness, addiction, mental ill health and those within the criminal justice system.  Not only will support be provided to access appropriate services, but often resettlement or supported housing services will work towards training and employment, which is… Continue Reading

Services for people experiencing homelessness in Stoke-on-Trent

services for homeless people
By Dean Spruce, Communication and Media Coordinator, VOICES   Back in 2008, following the tragic death of two rough sleepers in a disused building, Stoke-on-Trent city council, Fire Service and Brighter Futures produced a series of posters and leaflets that provided all the important emergency contact information for people who are faced with the prospect of rough sleeping.   This information has proved invaluable to those directly affected by homelessness, as well as organisations and services that work in and around homelessness, but also to commercial businesses and other public services in the city that may not necessarily have been aware of the support networks in place to assist in the event of homelessness occurring. Unfortunately the posters and leaflets were eventually discontinued,  but in 2014 the VOICES project relaunched this initiative, and we intend to maintain this valuable resource, adapting it to a wallet/purse sized format and keeping the contact information as up to date as possible.   The latest version of the ‘Services for People experiencing homelessness’ fold out directory is now out, with a fresh new look, comprising of a comprehensive list of appropriate services, and including a full colour map.   VOICES have already distributed a significant amount of these to the various services around… Continue Reading

Is out of the area accommodation a reasonable offer?

VOICES case study 2
Homelessness in Stoke-On-Trent is on the rise.  Even when you take into account homeless shelters, hostels, supported housing, council housing, social housing, and private rented properties, there is not enough accommodation available for everyone who presents as homeless. People who have been entrenched rough sleepers for many years, who have had regular, short stints in accommodation, but have lost this accommodation for some reason. Often the reasons can be traced back to poor mental health, inability to maintain a tenancy, lack of support, or offending and re-offending.  One solution being offered by Local Authorities that I have experienced when providing support to people presenting as homeless is an offer of accommodation out of the area. This is usually offered when there is no space at local hostels or night shelters or the customer is being refused access to these.   Service Co-ordinator Rachael Quarmby discusses a typical example and questions whether this is sometimes merely the least worst option.   A woman presented as homeless after being evicted from her property.  She was assessed as not being vulnerable compared to an ‘ordinary person’.  This was despite a history of substance use and mental health difficulties. She was offered out of area accommodation and advised… Continue Reading

HMP Dovegate NPS Learning

VOICES NPS dovegate
NPS is a major concern in our prison.  The Substance Misuse team at Dovegate took action and organised a learning opportunity for prisoners to attend aimed at raising awareness of the issue.  The team invited Voices and Expert Citizens C.I.C.  to contribute to the event held in June this year.   Over 50 individuals attended and listened to Expert Citizen, Lee Dale about his experiences with NPS and how you can overcome it.  Lee also shared his experiences of being a Peer Mentor, supporting people experiencing multiple needs.  Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager at VOICES gave a presentation to the attendees about the impact of NPS in the community.   By Expert Citizens C.I.C. and VOICES attending the event it has promoted the work that they do and has given prisoners an insight into the support available on release to the Stoke-on-Trent area.  One prisoner is particularly keen to volunteer when he is released with a longer-term goal of becoming a Peer Mentor.  Individuals who gave feedback stated that they “found the speeches and presentation really beneficial”.   We hope VOICES and Expert Citizens C.I.C.  are back soon at HMP Dovegate.   Alison Barnes Health Promotions Practitioner Care UK HMP Dovegate… Continue Reading

Co-Creation – So much more than consultation

VOICES Coproduction
Dr John Wheeler, Associate Dean in the School of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University explains why.   On 28th June 2018 Staffordshire University held its annual Teaching and Learning Conference.  This is an opportunity for colleagues to share with each other the best practice that they have developed through their own teaching on our vast array of subjects and courses.  This year’s Conference had an emphasis on ‘co-creation’ of learning opportunities and teaching methods between staff of the university and a range of other stakeholders, including academic partners, employers, professional bodies and, of course, students. I was privileged to be asked to chair one of several parallel workshop sessions during the Conference.  The first presentation of this session was entitled “Peer Mentor training: from co-production to co-delivery”.  This was facilitated by three people – Penny Vincent, who is extremely active in community-based work and who I know well as we have both worked at the University for many years, Sharon Sharman – Learning and Evaluation Manager from VOICES – a Big Lottery Funded project that I was unaware of until now, and a guy called Dan Jones, more about him shortly.  From start to finish I was very impressed with this… Continue Reading

Novel Psychoactive Substances: practice implications and solutions

VOICES NPS
By Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES A multi-disciplinary community of practice   VOICES is hosting a Community of Practice to look at the issue of novel psychoactive substances (NPS), the implications of use for practice, and potential local solutions.   The event is aimed at professionals with interest in NPS use and its implications for practice, social policy, or strategy in the context of health, social care, criminal justice, or community safety.  We will be inviting people with lived experience of NPS use to participate in the community and give their perspective on this topical issue.  Previously referred to as ‘legal highs’, last year the sale of NPS was banned by Parliament in May 2016.   NPS use has been portrayed in the popular media as an epidemic of criminality and antisocial behaviour.  In March 2017, the Daily Mail ran an on-line story under the headline “Rise of the zombies”.1  The article states that, “drug experts are warning of a Spice epidemic that is spreading from the North-West, driving a wave of crime and casualties that the police and emergency services are struggling to cope with.” Since the introduction of the ban, many observers note that the price of these substances has fallen while availability has increased.  It’s argued… Continue Reading

Case study: Barriers to healthcare [Addiction]

VOICES case study 01
Transcribed from sound recording   Can you explain what stops you going to hospital to seek treatment?   Basically, I’m still abusing drugs, and they won’t help me, as soon as they know I’m rattling they won’t give me anything to help me out, so I sign myself out and come home   OK, so you won’t go to the hospital because you’re rattling, I know that you recently went to the hospital to seek treatment, what finally pushed you to get medical help, what happened?   My health was deteriorating, yea, more and more wasn’t it, I needed hospital treatment, so I had to go up there, but then I had to lie and say I’m an ex user, I’m not using still. After five days, after they’ve read my file, they came to me asking if I was using, I said I was an ex user and I’m not using, only a bit of weed and drink. Can you detox off the drink they said to me, no I said, I’ve done it now, I’ve been in 5 days, yea, they said OK, the morphine injections that you’re on, for your leg, this time, this will help you (an alternative pain killer?) help me with what?… Continue Reading

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