Staffordshire Police: Anticipating, preventing and responding through workforce development
By Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation manager, VOICES
Commissioners, providers of services, teams and individual frontline staff often reflect on work undertaken to evaluate impact. It can be easy to get wrapped up in ‘targets’, ‘outcomes’, ‘outputs’ and ‘benefits for the customer’, but how often do we take time to reflect and evaluate the impact on services? This article looks at the benefits of workforce development delivered through our learning programme through the lens of colleagues at Staffordshire Police.
VOICES citywide learning programme began in 2015 and has developed over the years, through regular consultation with stakeholders, to ensure that we respond to learning needs identified in relation to supporting people experiencing multiple needs across the city of Stoke-on Trent. In addition to our regular masterclasses and training courses, we design and deliver bespoke workshops for specific service needs. These are created through by applying a philosophy of coproduction in which real lived experiences are the core of content.
This year our learning programme was externally evaluated in which several partnership stakeholders were interviewed to gain a deeper understanding of how the learning programme benefits their service. This quote was taken from one such interview with Staffordshire Police who discusses the specialist facilitators of our programme:
“The trainers have a lot of experience; far more than we could ever get in the police… when it comes to vulnerability such as substance misuse, such as motivational interviewing, active listening, hoarding, things like that, we don’t have the skill set within the force… The people that they’ve used, you can see have had that experience, have been in the job, and I think that’s key.”
Thematic Lead for Vulnerability and Mental Health, Staffordshire Police
Throughout COVID-19 lockdown, the learning programme has experienced several challenges. Working closely with providers, we firstly overcame the issue of venue closures by agreeing to move opportunities online. Facilitators worked quickly to adapt content and duration of events to be more accessible whilst considering the wellbeing of the workforce. We had found that, for example, sitting at a PC screen for long periods was not an ideal learning environment, nor, during a pandemic, would it be likely that frontline staff would be able to commit to full days to sustaining continuous professional development. We created and distributed guidance to our learning programme contacts to support them to access the learning platforms, acknowledging that this may be a new way of working for many. Since March 2020 we have achieved delivery of 20 Masterclasses (approx. 300 attendees), 5 prison discharge-related Communities of Practice, and numerous workshops.
In response to feedback from partnership stakeholders, recent learning programme events have included a series of drug-related themes. Samantha Simpson, one of our colleagues from Staffordshire Police, attended this series of events, then contacted me directly with feedback:
“I am new in post as a Problem Solver for drugs and alcohol in the Early Intervention and Prevention Unit at Staffordshire Police HQ. The courses I have recently attended through VOICES, facilitated by Kevin Flemen, (Drug Consultancy Initiative) include Drugs and Premises (The Law and good Practice), Drug-related Deaths (anticipating, preventing, and responding), and Alcohol Awareness. I was advised internally about these courses. I enjoyed the two sessions of Drugs and Premises that I attended with Kevin on-line. The length of time for each was just right so as not to be overloaded and worked well within the working day. The content was good, and the delivery was excellent. The use of practical examples, props, data, etc., was spot on. Time was given to adapt the content towards those with specific needs and questions around the subject. This, and the other course I have recently attended, have enabled me to have a much more rounded viewpoint around many of the agencies and the people affected by drug and alcohol use. I am sure this will help me to move forward with my role with a holistic approach. Fab work – thank you”.
At VOICES we openly welcome feedback and we really appreciate that Samantha took time to contact us directly, enabling us to share the impact of the learning on her role, her future approach, and customers.
You can find and download a copy of the full evaluation of the VOICES Citywide learning programme here
If you have suggestions for specific learning in relation to supporting people with multiple needs please get in touch at [email protected]