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Seeing the Full Picture Around Multiple Disadvantage: Learnings from the Fulfilling Lives Programme

VOICES lottery event
About this event With a range of keynote speakers, interactive workshops, performances and networking, the final Fulfilling Lives conference is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate what has been achieved during this unique 8-year national programme. The conference will be held in person in Birmingham AND online on the same day. You can select which type of attendance you would prefer when booking your ticket. The online programme includes live-streams of keynote speakers, performances, and a selection of online interactive workshops.   The programme features: Keynote speakers Dominic Williamson (independent consultant), a senior civil servant from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and The National Lottery Community Fund Latest findings from the national evaluation of Fulfilling Lives led by CFE Research and The University of Sheffield Performances by people with lived experience of multiple disadvantage Workshops held by the National Expert Citizens Group, Fulfilling Lives Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, Fulfilling Lives South East, and the Centre for Homelessness Impact   The event is ideal for policy-makers, commissioners and senior practitioners from Changing Futures areas, MEAM areas, and anywhere that is interested in learning about how to do things a bit differently and make positive change for people facing multiple disadvantage.   For those attending in… Continue Reading

Effective transitions in Hospital Discharge: Stoke-on-Trent

Effective transitions in hospital discharge: Stoke-on-Trent
Authors: Baz Tameez – Project Officer, VOICES Alicia Simmons – Project Officer – VOICES   In late 2020 we mobilised a series of VOICES legacy projects that focus on gaps, barriers and issues that have been identified as key and ongoing challenges for people experiencing multiple disadvantages in Stoke-on-Trent.   The rationale for the project themes were drawn from a wide variety of sources including lived experiences of customers and colleagues, national research, case studies, academic articles, local evaluations, and insight from work undertaken across the VOICES partnership since 2014.  Our work shows that the transition from hospital or prison into the community is often a point at which plans – if they have been designed – can breakdown. We recognised that improved discharge planning for people experiencing multiple disadvantages would increase the likelihood of a successful transition and the establishment of a more sustainable foundation for recovery.  To work towards this, we collaborated with stakeholders from across the city and established the VOICES ‘Transitions -Hospital Discharge’ legacy project.  Our project team includes VOICES team members, Expert Citizens, and key stakeholders who have co-produced and are co-delivering the hospital discharge project. The aims of the project were: there is a set of recommended hospital release pathways… Continue Reading

Improving Legal Literacy: Homelessness Law and Legislation

Improving legal literacy: Housing Law and Homelessness
Authors: Geoff Davies – Housing Law Specialist Advisor (CASNS) Sharon Sharman – Director  (VOICES)   As a housing specialist from Staffordshire North & Stoke Citizens Advice (CASNS), I have been working within the VOICES team since October 2018.  This built on the success of a similar role in benefits advice.  The aim of the role was to support VOICES coordinators to achieve better outcomes for their customers in individual cases and to bring about wider system change by providing legal advice and support. I worked alongside the VOICES team to identify cases where specialist housing advice was needed to bring about solutions for customers, but also to identify system blockages affecting a wider group of people experiencing multiple disadvantages.  Part of my role was also to try and empower service coordinators to better advocate on behalf of their customers by improving their legal knowledge of housing issues. Working alongside the VOICES team helped us identify the most common housing issues affecting this customer group and the gaps in the team’s knowledge.  It quickly became clear that the approach of many coordinators was to consider whether a decision or process was ‘fair’ to their customer, rather than whether it was a correct legal decision which… Continue Reading

Prison Discharge Pathway Project: what needs to change?

VOICES prison pathway
Author: Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager, VOICES   In late 2020 we mobilised a series of VOICES legacy projects that focus on gaps, barriers and issues that have been identified as key and ongoing challenges for people experiencing multiple disadvantages in Stoke-on-Trent.   The rationale for the project themes was drawn from a wide variety of sources including lived experiences of customers and colleagues, national research, case studies, academic articles, local evaluations, and insight from work undertaken across the VOICES partnership since 2014.  Our work shows that the transition from hospital or prison into the community is often a point at which plans – if they have been designed – can breakdown. We recognised that improved discharge planning for people experiencing multiple disadvantages would increase the likelihood of a successful transition and the establishment of a more sustainable foundation for recovery.  To work towards this, we collaborated with stakeholders from across the city and established the VOICES ‘Transitions -prison discharge’ legacy project.  Our project team includes VOICES team members, Expert Citizens, and key stakeholders who have co-produced and are co-delivering the prison discharge project.  The aims of the project are:   there is a recommended prison release pathway that addresses the specific issues identified… Continue Reading

VOICES Legacy Celebration

VOICES legacy
Author: Dean Spruce, Communication and Media Manager, VOICES   The VOICES partnership in Stoke-on-Trent is one of twelve areas in the UK to have received fulfilling lives funding through The National Lottery Community Fund back in 2014, to enable us to improve systems and services for people experiencing multiple disadvantage.   It’s been quite a journey to say the least with learning to be had at every step along the way, and as we now approach the end of our journey planning has begun for the end of project celebrations to be held on March 17th 2022.   During the day we will be taking a look back at what we’ve learned and achieved over the life of the project, with lunch provided, as well as looking forward to the next chapter in the launching of the Changing Futures programme. As more information becomes available we will keep you updated through VOICES News and the VOICES website….. Stay tuned… Continue Reading

From Fulfilling Lives to Changing Futures in Stoke-on-Trent

VOICES Changing Futures
Photograph from StokeonTrentLive – Pictured: Jo Gideon (MP Stoke Central), John Mothersole (Chair of the National Lottery Community Fund),  Cllr Abi Brown Leader of the Council, Andy Meakin (VOICES Project Director), Darren Murinas (CEO of Expert Citizens), and Eddie Hughes MP Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing. Author: Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES   On Friday, 16th July we were delighted to host the Minister for Housing and Rough Sleeping, Eddie Hughes MP, to celebrate the award of £3.9m to Stoke-on-Trent through a programme called Changing Futures.  VOICES partners and stakeholders were central to pulling together the successful bid which builds on local learning from the Fulfilling Lives project.  Changing Futures will provide tailored support to people experiencing combinations of homelessness, mental ill-health, addiction, contact with the criminal justice system, and domestic abuse. Key components of the model draw on learning from the VOICES partnership, which is led by Brighter Futures, including a multi-agency team of Case Coordinators, additional social care and psychological support, and improved access to primary care through a ‘health hub’ approach.   Mr Hughes told StokeonTrentLive:  “We need to look at the individual and help them deal with all of the challenges that they face, rather than sending them to five different places… Continue Reading

A Learning Legacy to promote improved Legal Literacy in Stoke-on-Trent

VOICES legal literacy
Author: Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager, VOICES   As the VOICES partnership is approaching the end of the funding period (March 2022) we have focused our work this year on a series of legacy projects – issues and themes of the projects have been influenced through our external evaluations, our experiences, consultation with stakeholders and local people with lived experiences of multiple disadvantages.  One key element across the legacy projects is that they are co-designed, co-delivered and evaluated with Expert Citizens C.I.C. and partners who can contribute their specialist knowledge and skills in the delivery of bespoke learning opportunities and inform us of gaps, barriers and needs within our local system. Working with our experienced Service Coordinators and Community Development Coordinators we involve stakeholders to coproduce the content and activities for each of the legacy projects.  Some projects include several workstreams – for example – ‘Fair and Equal Access’.  Workstreams within this project include:   Embed the Multi-agency Resolution Group Improve Discharge from Hospital and Prison DITTO (A project aimed at assessing the feasibility of a technical solution that reduces the number of times people have to tell their story) Promote Improved Legal Literacy   Promoting improved legal literacy includes the design and delivery of… Continue Reading

VOICES legacy: ‘Housing First’

VOICES housing first
Author: Steve Willis, Project Officer, VOICES   The legacy project working towards mainstreaming Housing First in Stoke-On-Trent has made good progress so far. The project has been extended by a year. We have supported the Centre for Health And Development (CHAD) to evaluate the service. Watch this space for their findings! Over the past couple of months the Project Team has been focused on writing recommendations which we hope will inform a final service specification which will aim to secure incorporation of Housing First into the local system after VOICES has ended in March 2022. As well as drawing on our local learning, the recommendations we have written closely follow guidance from Housing First England and specifically the seven principles they state that a Housing First service should follow, based on the evidence of what works for people experiencing multiple and complex needs:   1. People have a right to a home 2. Flexible support is provided for as long as it is needed 3. Housing and support are separated 4. Individuals have choice and control 5. An active engagement approach is used 6. The service is based on people’s strengths, goals and aspirations 7. A harm reduction approach is used   https://hfe.homeless.org.uk/sites/default/files/attachments/The%20Principles%20for%20Housing%20First.pdf   Over the coming months we will look at these principles more closely… Continue Reading

‘DITTO’ – Telling our story once: Why does this matter?

VOICES ditto
Author: Alicia Simmons, Project officer, VOICES   I’m going to offer you an example of an experience I had whilst working as a VOICES service co-ordinator. This particular example is by no means one of the most distressing – I have plenty of those too. This will simply highlight basic frustration for our customers in having to answer the same questions over and over again.   I had been working with Sally for a few months already, she had difficulty engaging with services and was often distrusting of professionals. She has experienced many assessments and answered many difficult and personal questions. Sally’s multi-agency team had worked extremely hard to support her back into services. Her workers often had regular conversations (phone and email) and would work together in order to ensure Sally had at least been seen during the week. Therefore, scheduling an appointment and ensuring Sally was able to be found and attend, was a precise back and forth of contact with workers. I knew Sally disliked the regular questioning involved with assessments, she often couldn’t understand the relevance of some personal questions in relation to the service she was requesting support from. Prior to the face-to-face assessment, I had emailed the service… Continue Reading

How partnership work and coproduction are creating new ways of working in a learning organisation

VOICES restart coproduction
Authors: Anna Wilcox, Director of Services, Restart & Martin Schofield – Client Support Manager, Restart   The Restart service provides supported housing.  Our specialism is working with the most vulnerable ex-offenders who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. We recognise that often our clients have experienced a lifetime of personal challenges, which has significantly contributed to their circumstances.  Our purpose is to support clients in addressing complex issues such as homelessness, offending behaviour, family and community relationships, unemployment, mental health, drug and alcohol dependency, learning and life skills, with the aim of achieving independent living.   In October of 2019 Saltbox appointed a new Director of Services. Our commitment to provide a holistic approach to meet the needs of our clients has seen a restructure of the Restart management team.  This included placing a Quality and Development manager alongside our Client Support Manager to enhance the quality of the service. Our team includes 7 dedicated Support Workers, a property services team including a maintenance and domestic service, input from our Chaplain offering pastoral care, Work Coach for those clients who are seeking employment or training, and engagement with our Clinical Nurse, who provides substance misuse expertise. Our Client Development facilitator provides purposeful… Continue Reading

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