01782 450760

Peer Mentoring Training

VOICES mentoring
Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager – VOICES, and Penny Vincent, Senior Lecturer Community Engagement and Community Partnerships – Staffordshire University From co-production to co-delivery VOICES worked with Expert Citizens and Staffordshire University to coproduce an accredited Peer Mentoring course at level 3.  Our collaboration developed over six-months. This was between myself for VOICES, Penny Vincent of the University, with Rachele Hine and Michelle Daniels leading for Expert Citizens.  Rachele and Michele used their know-how to steer the group with the design of the course as we co-produced every aspect of content during the development phase.  In July 2017, the first pilot course began to live test the content with six-students.  Penny describes the process, outcome, and next steps:   “I am privileged to have a role at Staffordshire University which involves me in developing community partnerships for mutual benefit. I have met people from Voices and Expert Citizens on various occasions since 2014: in connection with the 1000 Lives Network and with Staffordshire University’s CHAD centre on a research project of City Centre Street Activity.  Co-production is my specialism – I am a community development worker by background, so I was thrilled to be able to work closely with Rachele, Michelle and Sharon, with my… Continue Reading

Nothing But Trouble

VOICES nothing but trouble
Author: Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES We regularly hold quality assurance meetings at the office. It’s important that we reflect on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. This helps us to recognise what we do well and what we can improve. Today, our discussions included how we move further towards a more strengths-based approach to our work with people experiencing multiple needs. When working with people experiencing homelessness, mental ill-health, addictions, and histories of offending behaviour, it’s too easy to focus exclusively on their needs and to see everything in terms of a presenting risk. One of the team gave a great example. We were sent a risk assessment about a person being introduced to us for help. In the comments section of the form, a worker had written simply, “nothing but trouble”. Of course, entirely lacking in detail or context this is a weak piece of information from an assessment perspective. However, that is not what is most concerning. As a statement about a fellow human being, this is an inexcusable exaggeration. Perhaps it says more about taking deficit-based approach to practice that the worker couldn’t think of an apparent positive or mitigating thing to say about this individual. It’s not just that they didn’t write anything positive, it’s an assessment… Continue Reading

Take home Naloxone kits are saving lives

VOICES naloxone
Author: Dean Spruce, Comms & Media, VOICES Naloxone Training Last week the VOICES team received vital training from Stoke on Trent Community Drug and Alcohol Service alongside NHS Combined Healthcare about Naloxone, the emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates/opioids (such as methadone, morphine and fentanyl). The main life-threatening effect of heroin and other opiates is to slow down and stop breathing. Naloxone blocks this effect and reverses the breathing difficulties. Naloxone is a prescription-only medicine and cannot therefore be sold over the counter. It can however be supplied without prescription by drug services and can be used by anyone to save a life in an emergency. Delivered by Stuart Fisher, Steve McDonald and Allan Sargent the training talked the team through how the antidote works on the body and what to do in an emergency situation, including the safe administering of the drug. Following a short test all who attended were issued with a certificate and an emergency Naloxone kit to be carried whilst working on the front line and out in the community. Since December 2016, 500 kits have been distributed by the trio and to date there have been 13 known (recorded) reversals from overdose. In addition to… Continue Reading

New Psychoactive Substances – N.P.S. – Real Experience’s

VOICES handshake
Author: Sharon Sharman, Learning & Evaluation Manager, VOICES Expert Citizens, VOICES and RE SOLV have co designed and recently co delivered a learning opportunity to the VOICES partnership. Lee – Expert Citizen and VOICES peer mentor, and Dan from RE SOLV designed the course to incorporate professional training with insight from lived experiences.  The course covered: What do we mean by the term ‘legal highs’/NPS? What substances are currently being abused and what are the effects and associated risks? Stereotypes, prevalence and reasons for use Comparisons of use to illegal substances Mortality statistics and associated dangers Manufacturing and availability Challenges facing the control of NPS through legislation Effective interventions and treatment options Risks to health and harm reduction Best practice guidelines   Attendees all stated that, following the session, they had increased knowledge, increased understanding and increased confidence to support customers who are at risk of using NPS or are currently using NPS.  Feedback comments included: “The session was extremely informative and all of the topics were covered in depth”          “I Feel a lot more confident in this area specifically about identifying use & giving advice for users”Continue Reading

Homeless people have the right to register with a G.P

VOICES GP access cards
Author: Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES Expert Citizens, Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent, and VOICES have launched a card designed to help homeless people register with a doctor. The card is designed so that homeless people and their support workers can easily remind GP practice staff that they have a right to access the primary healthcare that they need.  NHS England sets out clear guidance stating that homeless people do not need to provide proof of identification when applying to register with a NHS doctor. Despite this, homeless people are often asked to provide identification documents as a condition of registration with a practice. People experiencing homelessness are among the most at risk of premature death. “Homeless people are more likely to die young, with an average age of death of 47 years old and even lower for women at 43.” Crisis & University of Sheffield (2012), “Homelessness Kills”, page 4.   Andy Meakin, Project Director at VOICES, said: “The support of a GP is often vital for homeless people to secure access to other needed services.  This includes mental health support, drug or alcohol treatment, or a social care intervention, for example.  However, a GP may also be able to help people access housing and welfare benefits by providing evidence of their… Continue Reading

All together now

VOICES all together now
Author: Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES I read an exciting document about commissioning today. You’re thinking ‘yeah, right’. But, it’s true. The New Local Government Network and Lankelly Chase have put together an excellent pamphlet published in April 2016. It’s called “All Together Now: Whole Systems Commissioning for Councils and the Voluntary Sector.” This document articulates many of the thoughts that have been mulling around in my head for about a decade. No one organisation has a hand on all the levers necessary to deliver a truly effective response for people with multiple or complex needs. Yet, commissioning processes continue to operate in silos. These may be organisation or discipline based. Similarly, they pursue a paradigm where efficiency and value emerge through the competitive processes of the market. Performance measures are set at the level of individual service providers. Contract management is often target driven and follows a conformance to specification model. Commissioners themselves are tied up in short-term cycles for services that are meant to be tackling long-term social problems. Inevitably, the emerging dynamic is a process driven system that encourages blame shifting behaviours. ‘All Together Now’ argues for a new commissioning paradigm. It is a vision characterised by cooperation and coproduction between people,… Continue Reading

From First Impressions through Reflection to Fulfillment

VOICES peer mentoring - Dan
Author: Dan Jones, VOICES Peer Mentor & Expert Citizen A Journey from Volunteering to Higher Education “Am I in the right place?”   “Me…at University?” “OK – I’ll give it a go”   My first day at University These were my first thoughts.  I was at University because I am a volunteer Peer Mentor in the VOICES partnership and had been provided with the opportunity of completing a level 3 Peer Mentoring qualification which meant that I needed to attend university for 6 weeks.  I felt, at first, that I was doing it for VOICES, not for me – ‘a bit of an obligation’.  I thought of the course as being ‘separate’ from my mentoring. I was just an addict who, through some miracle, had gotten clean and could provide some visual recovery to others whilst the professionals did the important work. When I arrived on my first day I was made to feel very much at ease by the two course tutors whom I soon felt comfortable with.  They introduced themselves and began to give an overview of what we would be doing on the course; what we would achieve together; what it was all about. My defences began to come down and I felt… Continue Reading

Scroll to Top