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Event: Solution Focus Practice and Beyond

VOICES solution focussed event
By Steve Freeman, Solution Focused Practitioner   June is looming on the horizon and it’s all set fair for the 2020 UK Association for Solution Focused Practice (UKASFP) Conference on 25th and 26th at Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent. Expert Citizens and VOICES have hosted UKASFP conference workshops for a few years now. Response to last year’s hosted conversation around @SoTCoP was really well received. This year’s contributions promise to be even better. As with previous conferences there will be workshops on a range of topics. Most importantly for people reading the VOICES newsletter is the focus on disenfranchisement and homelessness. I’ve noticed for a while that most attempts to discuss social equality and social justice are based in problem- focused, expertise- based, trauma- obsessed and generally well- meaning thinking. The UKASFP Conference will have contributors and delegates working with established models such as Housing First. We are hoping to have delegates from organisations, groups and individuals involved in and with experience of homelessness and its related social complexities. Many delegates will be viewing people as inherently competent. More resource and competence informed than trauma informed. Meaningfully adopting Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE) by taking a solution- focused approach. Accepting and working with all available expertise. Research in, and… Continue Reading

‘In Plain Sight’: Review and Photo Gallery

VOICES in plain sight
By Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation manager, VOICES & Claire Ritchie, No one Left Out: Solutions Ltd   You can view a photo gallery of ‘In Plain Sight’ – The Live and Hopes of Invisible People here   VOICES recently commissioned local arts-based companies, B Arts and Rideout, to coproduce a live promenade performance based on actual lived experiences of local people.  The powerful performance, which ran for eight evenings during February 2020, explored the challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness, rough sleeping, mental ill-health and substance misuse.  Audiences were provided with insight and understanding of the effects of long term and multiple traumas through following the journeys of two characters, Tash and Steve. We would like to give huge thanks to B Arts and Rideout and to all involved in producing and managing the performances.  This extends to the team that provided warm, fresh food for each performance and to VOICES staff and volunteers who invested additional time to co-design, deliver, and staff each evening. The performances were extremely well attended.  We are very proud to have engaged with the variety of individuals and services across the city and members of the public who purchased tickets.  Jonathan Gullis MP, Jo Gideon MP and several local councillors… Continue Reading

Supported housing and hospital admission

VOICES case study 11
*Names have been changed to protect identity.   There were two main bodies involved during the time Adam was noticeably exposed to complex exclusion barriers. These were the local authority and the last hostel that Adam’s bed was closed at whilst he was in hospital. Adam has been homeless or residing within hostels for many years, suffering from substance misuse and mental illness. Recently Adam was admitted to hospital following serious health concerns. During his inpatient stay and subsequent operation his bed space at the hostel was closed leaving Adam homeless when fit for discharge from the hospital. The hostels reasoning was that Housing Benefit will not pay for more than 7 nights whilst absent from the hostel and therefore the bed was closed. This presented a major problem for Adam to get another form of housing in place to prevent homelessness. The barriers Adam faced were in line with the findings of Public Health England’s health profile of Stoke on Trent’, published in June 2015, which concluded that the health of people in the city is generally poor and stating People facing homelessness, who are often already struggling financially, have far less choice and frequently end up in poor quality accommodation. Bruno Ornelas… Continue Reading

The possibility of self exclusion

VOICES case study 10
*Names have been changed to protect identity.   Simon had been picked up onto VOICES caseload via the outreach partnership work between VOICES and the Police in the town centre. He initially refused most help offered to him including support to claim benefits, access accommodation and access primary healthcare, simply stating that he was working on “healing” his back so that he could return to work. Through small interactions the SC (Service Coordinator) built up trust with Simon and Simon agreed to go to his GP with the SC to ask for help regarding his back pain. Simon’s long-term aim was to heal the back enough to be able to work again; he felt that he managed the pain well but wanted to strengthen and rehabilitate it. Simon received a prescription for pain killers and a referral to Physiotherapy from his GP, he seemed happy with this outcome. The SC introduced Simon to a Citizen’s Advice Bureau benefits advisor and a service which works with immigrants to see if they could explore any support which may be useful. The outcome was that Simon may not be able to claim benefits but it wasn’t clear due to Simon’s lack of documents and with the… Continue Reading

Multiple and Complex Exclusion

VOICES case study 09
*Names have been changed to protect identity   Emma has a long history of rough sleeping and none engagement with services. There has been prolific offending, mainly with antisocial behaviour in and around the town centre. Emma is known to take substances and drink heavily when not in prison. Alongside her addictions Emma does suffer with poor mental health and it is believed there is a diagnoses of schizophrenia/personality disorder. Whilst in prison Emma’s mental health is stabilized with medication and once released no follow up appointments are kept due to Emma rough sleeping. There is evidence to suggest that Emma may be exploited by others. She has no benefits in place and she states this has been the case for the past twelve months. Even though she has no income Emma can fund her habit. Also, Emma has been known to stay with males who have their own property and pay nothing towards the costs. Emma is known to be abusive to services who are trying to support her needs. A lot of aggression and threats appear to be directed at female professionals. This results in Emma being excluded from most services. Unfortunately, the lifestyle Emma leads results in her not getting to correct… Continue Reading

Appealing a benefit decision? You need to read this….

VOICES benefits 2
By Karen Dunn, Specialist Benefits Advisor, Citizens Advice Stoke North and Staffordshire   Following a recent discussion around a case involving benefit entitlement it became apparent there was some learning to be shared regarding claiming the correct benefit during the transition from the legacy system to universal credit, when appealing decisions is necessary. Karen Dunn, specialist benefits advisor from the CAB tells us:   Getting income related Employment & Support Allowance (a legacy benefit) or Universal Credit while challenging a limited capability for work decision If the person we are supporting has had their income related ESA claim stopped because of a ‘limited capability for work’ decision, it is often the case that we rush to help them make a new claim for ESA when this is not the best course of action. It can sometimes leave the customer with no money at all. As part of the Welfare Reform programme, regulations concerning making a new claim for income related ESA when someone has failed the work capability assessment; failed to return the ESA50; or failed to attend/take part in the work capability assessment, came into force affecting all repeat claims made on or after 30/03/2015. Payment can now only be made in very specific circumstances.   Income… Continue Reading

What’s in My Desktop, 2016 edition. Inspiration for web designer’s!

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How to Build a Website with Bootstrap Framework and JavaScript

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