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Category: News

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

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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

Epilicia: How Epilepsy gave me a new nickname

VOICES blog epilepsy
Author: Alicia Simmons, Service Coordinator, VOICES March the 26th was Epilepsy Awareness Day. Service Coordinator Alicia describes how her life changed after being diagnosed with Epilepsy and how it changed her perspective of supporting people with multiple needs who have Epilepsy. According to the European Journal of Public Health, people experiencing homelessness are 8 times more likely to have Epilepsy.  Six months ago I was an independent woman, I didn’t need help from anyone.  I had enjoyed my teenage years like most teenagers – (drinking white lightening at the park and lying to your parents about where you had been) – I had left home for university, gained my degree, backpacked around the world for 3 years, returned to the UK with bracelets adorning both arms with numerous feathers in my hair, was working a job I loved supporting the most vulnerable adults in Stoke and was supporting myself quite successfully!  Then I had a seizure. It was a traumatic experience, but much more so for my partner who had to save my life, than it was for me.  As far as I’m concerned, I have no memory of the event, so I ‘wasn’t there’.  My boyfriend who had to drag me off… Continue Reading

Do It Right – The First Time

VOICES blog Willis
Author: Steve Willis, Service Coordinator, VOICES Bills, food, bus travel, clothes, rent… money, money, money. We live in a society where just one month of unstable income could lead to disaster. We live in a society which has made a promise to help the most vulnerable.  Like those who are ill.  Like those who rely on welfare benefits to cover their daily finances. We live in a society where people have to make multiple phone calls and fill in endless forms to get the money they are entitled to receive. We live in a society where people have to be employed to assist vulnerable people to apply for and manage their benefits. We live in a society where applications for benefits are declined despite all the boxes being ticked and appropriate evidence provided. We live in a society where many claims won’t be allowed until the first, second or third appeal. We live in a society where people are waiting for months – sometimes more – before they are awarded the benefits they are entitled to. We live in a society where people are suffering because the systems didn’t do their job right the first time.… Continue Reading

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