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Volunteers Week 2021 Celebrations Stoke-on-Trent

Click video above to play   This year’s Volunteers Week took place between the 1st and 7th of June. On the 4nd VOICES in collaboration with 1000 lives and Expert Citizens CIC held ‘The Big Thank You’ to celebrate and thank volunteers across the city for their kindness and hard work. It goes without saying that the past year has been both different and difficult – the response from volunteers up and down the UK has been integral to our unified response in supporting our communities. Never has it been so  important to take the time to recognise and acknowledge this, and so a massive thank you goes out  to everyone that came along to make for such a great day! We hope you enjoy the video of ‘The Big Thank You’ above, in addition you can view the comments and feedback from the ‘live chat on the day, here..… Continue Reading

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

Employment Opportunity: Service Coordinator

VOICES vacancy
This is unique job opportunity to work as part of a vibrant and supportive team. VOICES are now recruiting for a Service Coordinator. This is an excellent opportunity to add to your existing skillset and to be part of a unique programme with a national profile. You will work with a small caseload and have the opportunity to take part in a comprehensive learning programme and work alongside people with lived experience of multiple needs. For an informal chat about the role please give us a ring on 01782 450 760 and ask to speak to the Head of Service Delivery, Bruno Ornelas.   Job Title:  Service Coordinator Salary: £21,819.02 Hours: 37 hours per week, Monday – Sunday, flexible to meet customer needs Job Ref: A543   Closing date:   Monday 30th December 2019 Interview date:  Thursday 9th January 2020   Click here for full person spec Click here to download an application form   These posts are funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund until 2022. Brighter Futures is an equal opportunities employer. We welcome applications from people with  lived experience of multiple needs.   … Continue Reading

Join the VOICES team: Systems Change Manager

VOICES join our team
This is a unique job opportunity to work as part of a vibrant and supportive team and we are now recruiting for a Systems Change Manager.  This is an excellent prospect to add to your existing skillset and to be part of a unique programme with a national profile.  You will be taking a leading role in a comprehensive programme of systems change and working alongside people with lived experience of multiple needs.  You will be using your project, contract, and change management skills to help us make a permanent difference for people experiencing multiple needs in Stoke-on-Trent.  You may even have lived experience of multiple needs yourself, if you do your application would be very welcome. For an informal chat about the role please give us a ring on 01782 450 760 and ask to speak to Andy Meakin.   Please also visit www.voicesofstoke.org.uk for further information.   Job Title:    Systems Change Manager (VOICES) Contract:    Permanent post Salary:        £31.212 per annum Hours:        37 hours per week, Monday – Friday, usually 9am to 5pm, although some flexibility may be required. Job Ref: A505   Closing date:               Monday, 24th June 2019 Interview date:           Monday, 1st July 2019   Click here to download the full job description   To apply for this position download and application form here… 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

Exciting Opportunity – Join the VOICES team

VOICES is a partnership of voluntary, statutory, and private sector organisations that works to create cultural and systems change in the way that services are delivered for people experiencing a combination of homelessness, addiction, mental ill health and offending. People with multiple needs often encounter difficulties in accessing support and often experience exclusion from services. VOICES supports its partners and relevant agencies in their efforts to engage people with multiple needs and to articulate an authentic and legitimate ‘community voice’ for people with a lived experience of those needs.   Working as part of a vibrant and supportive team we are now recruiting for the following key positions:   1 x Service Coordinator, Salary: £20,971.60 plus benefits.   Working as part of a vibrant and supportive team of System Brokers, Service Coordinators, Community Development Coordinators, Expert Citizens, Students and Volunteers you will be creative and understanding of the needs of customers who are experiencing multiple needs. You will be proactive in developing effective service coordination plans and advocate the case for customer access through the available service systems by encouraging a focus on their strengths and assets as appropriate.   Closing date for the post is Monday 30th April 2018, at 5pm.   Interview date (if shortlisted) for the… Continue Reading

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