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Category: Web Log

Improving Legal Literacy: Implementing the Multiple Needs toolkit

Implementing the multiple needs toolkit
Author: Stephen Willis, Service Coordinator – VOICES   People with multiple disadvantage are often denied access to services which they are legally entitled to due to frontline staff not fully understanding how the legal framework applies to the situation.   The Service Coordination team at VOICES supported multiple customers who experienced this problem even though there were changes in the Care Act (2014).  The issue identified was that the interpretation of the legislation at frontline level was both varied and confusing, thus often resulting in ineffective assessments of support and care needs. For this reason, VOICES developed a toolkit to aid in seeking assessments under the Care Act. The toolkit serves both as a learning tool and as a practice-based instrument for multi-agency working which sets people’s circumstances and needs in the context of the Care Act and enables informed decision-making in the referral process. Over the past year, as part of the VOICES Legacy Project focussing on promoting improved legal literacy, VOICES co-designed and co-delivered a programme of bespoke workshops in partnership with colleagues from Adult Social Care.  Sessions were delivered to specific teams across the city with the purpose of providing learning to whole teams that could then support each other – with… Continue Reading

Prison Release Pathways Project: In Summary

Prison release pathways project
Authors: Lee Dale, Community Development Coordinator, VOICES Sharon Sharman, Director – VOICES   Our work over the lifetime of VOICES shows that the transition from prison into the community is often a point where plans breakdown; what should be a new start and a chance for change is instead a race to get as much ready and put in place as possible prior to the day of release.  On the day of release there’s another race to fit in the multiple appointments and tasks, juggling mandatory appointments with accommodation interviews before even being able to let the customer adjust to their new freedom and surroundings. After all the planning and rushing there is no guarantee that everything will be ready.  It was identified that customers sleeping rough on the street with no finances straight from prison is still a common occurrence.  Workers involved in these rushing races expressed their frustrations in knowing that, after all efforts are invested, it may not be appositive outcome for the person. These frustrations do not just come from services in the community supporting the customers but are shared by workers within the Prisons. VOICES has focussed on release from Prison for one of the systems change legacy projects… Continue Reading

The Principles of Housing First – Part Three

Housing First Part Three
Author: Stephen Willis, Service Coordinator, VOICES   This edition will look at the last 2 principles of Housing First whilst continuing to discuss any aspects of them which Housing First England consider ‘non-negotiable’ and which separate the model from other types of support service. You can find discussion of the other 5 principles on the VOICES website as below: Part one of this series can be found here Part two can be found here   Principle 6: The service is based on people’s strengths, goals and aspirations Underpinned by a philosophy that there is always a possibility for positive change, seemingly small changes (e.g., turning up for an appointment, buying something for the home or expressing an interest in trying something new) can be significant markers of progress. Individuals are supported to: Identify their strengths, goals and to develop resilience in other areas. Develop the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their goals Develop increased self-esteem, self-worth and confidence Integrate into their local community, to begin building relationships outside of the homelessness sector. And also make links with people with lived experience who can show that recovery is possible and offer a different type of support (Peer Mentors) The way that the Housing First Fidelity Guidance describes this… Continue Reading

NECG update: Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs

Author: Lee Dale, Community Development Coordinator & NECG Member, VOICES   In February 2019 Dame Carol Black was commissioned by the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Care to undertake a 2-part independent review of drugs, to inform the government’s thinking on what more can be done to tackle the harm that drugs cause. Part one was published on 27 February 2020 and provides a detailed analysis of the challenges posed by drug supply and demand, including the ways in which drugs fuel serious violence. Part two was published on the 8 July 2021 and focuses on drug treatment, recovery and prevention. The NECG were asked to focus on 4 key questions to help inform Dame Carol Blacks review relating to part 2 (only). The NECG are people with lived experience, all from the 12 Fulfilling Lives programmes across the country. The aim of the NECG is to ensure lived experience shapes system change and creates future services that are; co-produced, accessible, and designed for people who have experienced multiple disadvantage. NECG Members discussed these questions with people with lived experience in their local areas. The main themes were reported back at three regional meetings throughout August. The consistent themes that emerged from… Continue Reading

Principles of Housing First: Part two

housing first principles 2
Author: Stephen Willis, Project Officer, VOICES   In Septembers newsletter I looked at the first 2 of 7 principles that Housing First England recommend a service should adhere to when supporting people in order to have more success in achieving positive outcomes. This edition will look at principles 3, 4 and 5 and will discuss any aspects of them which Housing First England consider ‘non-negotiable’ and which separate the model from other types of support service.   Housing and Support are separated Issues around a person’s tenancy are treated separately from other support needs; an individual’s housing is not conditional on them engaging with support and vice versa. This can be different from other supported housing services where a person may have to show they are already engaged with support before being offered accommodation, or potentially risking eviction if they do not engage with support when housed. One of the ‘non-negotiables’ for Housing First states that the service should be targeted at individuals experiencing multiple disadvantage as the research shows that it is more effective for them than other support models. Stereotypically these individuals experience short periods accommodated interspersed with periods of homelessness and a contributing factor to this can be that support is often attached… Continue Reading

Welfare Benefits Leading and Learning (WBLL): Collaborative working with Integrated Offender Management (IOM)

Author: John Ryan, Welfare benefits Case worker, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent   Disclaimer – Customer names have been changed to provide anonymity In early 2021 VOICES extended the specialist welfare benefit advice team to be placed within the local prison release pathway in response to needs identified through our ongoing research and consultation in prison discharge.  I have worked on this pilot for several months as the welfare benefit specialist.  At the start, my role was focused on building relationships and raising awareness of the purpose of the WBLL team – to become embedded within services, offering my knowledge and skills as a learning and development resource to professionals, and to act in a consultancy role for complex benefit cases. The pilot has made substantial progress; I am now working within the IOM team on a regular basis.  This article reflects on outcomes and achievements as a result of effective partnership work. IOM (Integrated Offender Management), working through both Police Field Officers and Probation Service Officers, seeks to break the problematic cycle of offending, custody, release, re-offending and return to custody. Adopting a holistic approach, offender managers support individuals with multiple and complex needs using their skills and knowledge to help coordinate… Continue Reading

National Expert Citizens Group Update

Author: Lee Dale, Community Development Coordinator, VOICES (NECG Member)   Throughout the Fulfilling Lives programme VOICES and Expert Citizens have been working closely with the National Expert Citizen Group (NECG) hosted by Revolving Doors. During the past 16 months due to the pandemic, we have continued to do this, albeit remotely. All the Fulfilling Lives lived experience teams have shown true commitment throughout this process, and their input is helping to shape future services for those experiencing multiple disadvantages.   The aim of the NECG is to ensure lived experience shapes system change and creates future services that are; co-produced, accessible, and designed for people who have experienced multiple disadvantages.   Helping create services designed for people with co-occurring substance/alcohol use and mental health (‘dual diagnosis’). This will include providing support for people who want support but are not yet abstinent. Improving support for people leaving prison and people with repeat contact with the criminal justice system. Developing approaches to prevent drug related deaths and adapt to changes in drug use (e.g., rise in crack cocaine, prescription drugs and new psychoactive substances). Developing appropriate accommodation options for people who are experiencing multiple disadvantages. Designing services that are appropriate for women that have experienced multiple disadvantages.   Regional… Continue Reading

Principles of Housing First – Part one

VOICES housing first principles
Author: Steve Willis, Project Officer, VOICES   In the last newsletter I listed the 7 Principles of Housing First England and over the next few editions I aim to look at these in some detail and describe how some of the principles have ‘non-negotiable’ or essential aspects which separate the Housing First model from other support services.   People have a right to a home Prioritising access to housing as quickly as possible is a central tenet of Housing First and gaining suitable and stable housing is not contingent on any conditions other than willingness to maintain a tenancy. This diverges from many supported housing services who may ask to see evidence of the person’s recovery before accommodating them. Regular engagement with substance misuse services or having mental health support already in place can be potential conditions to be accepted onto a housing waiting list but can also be difficult to achieve when rough sleeping or living in unstable accommodation. Non-conditional access to housing is a ‘non- negotiable’ factor. Stability of tenure is another ‘non-negotiable’ aspect to being considered a Housing First Service. The individual will have their own tenancy agreement and will not lose their housing if they disengage or no longer require the support.… Continue Reading

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Leaflet

VOICES mental health
As part of the Suicide Prevention Community Champions Project our colleagues at Brighter Futures have produced a community leaflet as a source of support for anyone who may be struggling with their mental health, or for someone worried about another person.   You can download this leaflet in PDF format by clicking here.     … Continue Reading

Changes to ‘housing allowance for single people’ – Information leaflet

VOICES CAB leaflet
  Our friends and colleagues at Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent have recently produced a leaflet detailing changes to the way ‘housing allowance for single people’ is calculated. As a result of these changes, additional groups of care leavers and former hostel/refuge residents could be eligible for higher amounts of Universal Credit for housing costs or Housing Benefit, but the DWP/Council systems won’t identify them automatically.   If you or your organisation work to support people experiencing multiple disadvantage you can download a pdf copy for printing/reference here. We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues and networks.   The new rules include changes to:   The shared accommodation rate New Rules for under 35’s Care Leavers under 25’s If you’ve lived in a hostel or refuge   Other special circumstances Disability Benefits Former Prisoners       … Continue Reading

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