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Tags: systems change

Not just for Christmas…

VOICES not just for Christmas
By Dean Spruce, Communication & Media Coordinator, VOICES   The month is January, it’s cold, there’s snow on the ground, the Christmas holidays already seem like a distant memory and people have returned to work and to their regular routines. For some people however, the Christmas period doesn’t promise a welcome break, nor time spent with family or turkey dinners.  For those that find themselves outside, by which I mean sleeping rough, it represents the most difficult of all challenges – staying alive.  There is little time to worry about gifts or any of the other distractions that most of us are more than willing to engage in, when you have nowhere to go, no money and potentially only the clothes on your back to keep you warm.  For these people the Christmas period is most definitely not over.  The weather is getting worse as we head into 2019, the cold snaps temporarily delayed by the unusual lasting warmth of the previous summer have now firmly set in, and the risk to human life is high. Poverty in the UK is on the rise, recent figures published by Crisis revealed levels of rough sleeping – including sleeping on public transport and in tents – had doubled in… Continue Reading

Small change to system change in Stoke-on-Trent

VOICES small change to system change
Lee Dale – Expert Citizens C.I.C. Mandy Jago – Volunteer VOICES and Expert Citizens C.I.C. Board Member Sharon Sharman – Learning and Evaluation Manager VOICES   A Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE) “…is one that takes into account the psychological makeup – the thinking, emotions, personalities and past experience – of it’s participants in the way that it operates” (Robin Johnson http://pielink.net/ 2012).   Many of the customers homeless services work with may seem to have difficulty managing their emotions, can appear impulsive and may not consider the consequences of their actions.  They may also appear to be withdrawn, isolated and seemingly reluctant to engage with support and / or exhibit anti-social type behaviours.  The purpose of PIE is to help staff understand where these behaviours are coming from and, therefore, work more creatively and effectively with people. (adapted from Psychologically Informed Environments; Westminster City Council 2015)   How can we create a psychologically safe environment in our Emergency Department for people who have experienced multiple emotional traumas and are experiencing homelessness?   This conversation started some time ago with Julie Norton, an Accident and Emergency (A and E) consultant from the Royal Stoke University Hospital.  Julie had approached VOICES to seek ways of supporting departmental staff in developing best practice to support… Continue Reading

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

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

Citizens Jury – Appropriate access to mental health services

VOICES citizens jury
Steven Barkess, Community development coordinator, VOICES   This month my colleague, Dean Spruce and I, attended a citizens jury presentation and launch of a report focusing on access to appropriate adult mental health services in Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire CCG’s who developed a committee in common to discuss; what is not one of the biggest health inequalities in the county. This is the second citizen’s jury to take place following the successful work done around diabetes and is the seventh community conversation to take place.   What is a citizen’s jury?   Essentially, a citizen’s during is a mechanism for participatory action research which allows people to be involved in the development of research leading to action on a local and national level. Citizen’s juries have been used widely throughout the United States since the 1960’s and were introduced to the UK in the 1990’s and have become common place in service evaluation, processes, planning and scrutiny within public services. Often people who are accepted onto the jury have some knowledge or experience of the subject that is be assessed or scrutinised. This isn’t of course the type of jury that will determine innocence or guilt but to propose possible recommendations, action or solutions to… Continue Reading

Connecting and Learning with Local Organisations

VOICES staffordshire university
*Article originally featured by Staffordshire University, School of Law, Policing and Forensics Written by Sarah Page, Senior Lecturer Sociology & Criminology, Staffordshire University Staffordshire University works in partnership with Expert Citizens C.I.C. and VOICES; a local Big Lottery funded project in the national Fulfilling Lives: supporting people with multiple needs programme. Customers of VOICES experience a combination of homelessness, mental ill-health, substance misuse and offending. Their lives have been seriously affected by events and conditions over a prolonged period and, as a result, may present frequently at emergency health care facilities, drug and alcohol services, homelessness or mental health services. Recently, Anna Mather (VOICES) and Lee Dale (Expert Citizens C.I.C.) joined our Sociology and Criminology undergraduate students to talk through the Solution Focused and Asset Based Approach that they use with customers. Students had the opportunity to learn from customers about their experiences of substance misuse and they found out about services at VOICES and in Stoke-on-Trent that have helped them to significantly change their life. VOICES and expert Citizens C.I.C. use customer stories to help to improve services across the City and to educate people in the issues faced by customers experiencing multiple needs. The group of Sociology and Criminology students – from within the School… Continue Reading

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