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Exciting Opportunity – Join the VOICES team

VOICES is a partnership of voluntary, statutory, and private sector organisations that works to create cultural and systems change in the way that services are delivered for people experiencing a combination of homelessness, addiction, mental ill health and offending. People with multiple needs often encounter difficulties in accessing support and often experience exclusion from services. VOICES supports its partners and relevant agencies in their efforts to engage people with multiple needs and to articulate an authentic and legitimate ‘community voice’ for people with a lived experience of those needs.   Working as part of a vibrant and supportive team we are now recruiting for the following key positions:   1 x Service Coordinator, Salary: £20,971.60 plus benefits.   Working as part of a vibrant and supportive team of System Brokers, Service Coordinators, Community Development Coordinators, Expert Citizens, Students and Volunteers you will be creative and understanding of the needs of customers who are experiencing multiple needs. You will be proactive in developing effective service coordination plans and advocate the case for customer access through the available service systems by encouraging a focus on their strengths and assets as appropriate.   Closing date for the post is Monday 26th March 2018, at 5pm.   Interview date (if shortlisted) for the… Continue Reading

The Care Act: a toolkit for advocacy

VOICES care act blog
By Bruno Ornelas, Service Manager, VOICES and Dr Michelle Cornes, Senior Research fellow, Kings College London How we developed a toolkit to bridge the gap between individuals and the social care system. The aim of the Care Act 2014 is to ‘make the law fair and consistent’ and to remove ‘anomalies, which treat particular groups of people differently’ regardless of the provision they need or when they need it (DH 2013). The Care Act 2014 was introduced in England on 1st April 2015. It rescinds former legislation, including the NHS and Community Act 1990, with the aim of creating a single consistent route to establishing entitlement to publically funded care and support. This may mean that people who were frequently passed over by adult social care on the grounds that they did not come within a certain user group defined in legislation, such as homeless people, will no longer be excluded (Mandelstam 2013). For the VOICES coordination team, issues quickly came to light in relation to access to adult social care. Coordinators found it difficult to negotiate the initial customer services screening processes and to secure an assessment for their customers. A key lesson to emerge from VOICES early work, centred on the importance… Continue Reading

Making Sense of Social Prescribing

VOICES social prescribing
By Steve Barkess, Community Development Coordinator, VOICES This month as a member of the community development team here at VOICES I attended a workshop focusing on social prescribing. For Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire this new approach will look at different and more holistic methods of supporting people who are experiencing mental ill health, loneliness or isolation to replace sometimes unnecessary medical interventions. The concept of social prescribing recognises the various factors that contribute to a person’s overall health. This includes the socio-economic and psycho-social factors of everyday life for people of all ages by utilising what is available within the local community and how this can be accessed. Individuals will be referred to social prescribing by a healthcare professional such as GP, health visitor, or community nurse as an example. The event: The social prescribing event was well attended, which demonstrates the range of public and third sector organisations that have a keen interest of this model of support. To kick start the day we were provided with evidence based presentations of pilots throughout the UK which showed that this model has the capacity to work well not only for patients but also to reduce the pressures on already stretched GP and frontline services.… Continue Reading

Stoke-on-Trent CoP – Past, Present and exciting future

by Steve Freeman, Chair, Stoke-on-Trent Community of Practice Communities of Practice (CoPs) generally and Stoke-on-Trent Community of Practice (StokeCoP) specifically have an impressive pedigree. From community development projects in America to the harnessing of technical expertise in the UK CoPs have been harnessing untapped resources for years. The Little Miracles report from 2013 describes a project in which the impact of CoPs was assessed http://www.revolving-doors.org.uk/file/1808/download?token=hADIbO3p. Stoke was one of the research centres and the legacy group was developed by key CoP members Bruno Ornelas and Sarah Wilshaw. Phase two of Stoke’s CoP came with the introduction of a solution focused practitioner as chair/facilitator and the development of ideas from the defunct Staffordshire Community of Solution Focused Practice which had been established and run by Carl Plant and Steve Freeman. So much for the history. What has StokeCoP actually done over the past few years? What difference has it make from its early days? Who has noticed a change? And what have they noticed? One of the most important things has been the development of a discussion forum with measurable impact on systems change and peoples lived experience in Stoke-on-Trent and beyond. This forum has seen a broad range of experience and expertise. Expert… Continue Reading

Volunteering and Me

VOICES danny
Author: Danny Daniels – VOICES Peer Mentor I first thought about volunteering when I was in the resettlement stage of rehab. My partner at the time was also volunteering but I never really understood what they got from it, or anyone else that volunteered either. I used to think to myself ‘ooh that’s nice of them’, I always thought that people who volunteered where those who didn’t need to work and had plenty of spare time on their hands. I started volunteering twelve months ago and since then my perception of why people volunteer has completely changed. Now I have achieved tangible things such as my level two ITC qualification and a level three peer mentor qualification. I not only have a developed a real in-depth knowledge of the issues faced by people experiencing multiple and complex needs but I have maintained my professional development and insight into services. On a personal level my confidence and self-belief has doubled and I have hope in people being able to succeed in their recovery. I am able to use my lived experience.  I have learned to use my experiences from a negative place and use them in a positive way. I can now see myself being employed,… Continue Reading

Housing First for Stoke-on-Trent

VOICES housing first
By Andy Meakin VOICES Director VOICES has been implementing an approach to finding accommodation for some homeless people called Housing First. Developed in the United States, Housing First places Homeless People directly in to permanent accommodation. More than thirty homeless people have benefited from this approach since the beginning of VOICES. The approach is based on the idea that in order to engage in other services effectively, people experiencing multiple needs require a place they can call home. I first remember hearing about Housing First in around 2010 when information began to filter in to the UK of its potential as an approach to tackling single homelessness. Since that time, there have been several pilot projects throughout the country. To date, the most comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of Housing First in the UK is from the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York. The reputation of the Housing First approach for effectiveness can be seen in the fact that the model featured in the manifestos of both major parties at the recent General Election. “Housing First services were successfully engaging with long-term homeless people with often very high support needs, delivering housing sustainment and showing progress in improving health, well-being and… Continue Reading

Community Development Update

VOICES allotment
By Ben Wilson A warm welcome to Helen Bailey  Joining the VOICES team is community development coordinator Helen Bailey. Helen writes, “I have been really excited to be shadowing our partners to see what they have been doing. My first thoughts were wow, there is much amazing stuff happening that I wasn’t aware of. Partners were really listening and working with customers to get them the best outcome. I am so excited to be in a role that allows me to communicate and share all the positive practice across the City.”   Re-Launch of Peer Mentoring  Service Working with local evaluator Becky Rice we recently conducted interviews of our customers, focus groups with Peer Mentors and Staff. We found that our main challenges were sustaining matches between peer mentors and customers. Matches that became sustainable were due to customer and peer mentor sharing an activity or interest. These allowed for change talk to happen, and were also fun for both people. With these findings we will be changing the way it offers Peer Mentoring to VOICES Customers. Using the learning from the last 4 years we found the most effective change came from using activities as a medium to talk about to change. This new offer… Continue Reading

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