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Category: Web Log

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

Collaborative Co-production creates Mutual and Sustained Learning

VOICES collaborative working
Author: Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager, VOICES   A reflection of positive partnership work during some of our toughest times     Opportunities included a variety of masterclasses, bespoke workshops, short courses, accredited courses, and co-delivery of online conferences and webinars in which organizations have worked together to deliver positive practice.  These include Homeless Link, Adult Safeguarding Boards, NHS and LGA (Local Government Association).   Although the delivery route had changed (moved to online platform during lockdown) we applied the same logic model that had been tested over previous years and captured in the Citywide Learning Progamme Evaluation 2020:     The influence for the design and delivery of the learning opportunities were the core success factors of the learning programme: The creation of a shared-learning environment across organisations working with people with multiple needs The provision of high-quality learning opportunities that are current, tailored to participants’ needs and delivered by engaging and skilled trainers The centrality of lived experience to the programme   How did we make it happen? Although lockdown measures did not come into force until 26th March 2020, the VOICES team acted rapidly to support customer, staff, and stakeholders considering Covid – 19.  Urgent meetings were held to inform colleagues that substantial changes to working practices were… Continue Reading

COVID-19 & Access to Primary Care Services for Patients with “No Fixed Abode”

VOICES GP access
Author: Dean Spruce, Communication & Media Manager, VOICES   It has been known for quite some time that people that have no home are frequently wrongly rejected when applying to register with a GP in order to access primary care services. Back in 2016 VOICES in collaboration with Expert Citizens CIC and Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent undertook a ‘mystery shopping’ exercise resulting in the Gatekeepers Report, where 46 GP surgeries in and around Stoke-on-Trent were contacted and asked if they are able to register someone who is homeless. 47.8% of these said they could not (26.09% said maybe pending further advice with only 26.09% saying they could) This is despite the CQC expected standards of care stating, “CQC expects practices to register people who are homeless, people with no fixed abode, or those legitimately unable to provide documentation living within their catchment area who wish to register with them. Homeless patients are entitled to register with a GP using a temporary address which may be a friend’s address or a day centre.” “The practice may also use the practice address to register them.” “Practices should try to ensure they have a way of contacting the patient if they need to (for example with test results). Some areas will have… Continue Reading

Improving Fair Access to Services through the Citywide Learning Programme

VOICES fair access to services
Author: Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager, VOICES   In October 2020 VOICES and Expert Citizens C.I.C. launched several systems change legacy projects as the focus for the final year of fulfilling lives:  supporting people with multiple needs in Stoke-on-Trent. The legacy projects include   ·         Valuing Lived Experience ·         Citywide Learning Programme ·         Telling the Story Once ·         Housing First ·         Legacy Conference ·         Evaluations ·         Fair Access to Services   The ‘Fair Access to Services’ project involves several workstreams supporting improved legal literacy and providing support and advocacy tools:     To improve legal literacy around homelessness, housing, and welfare benefits advice, we have been working with stakeholders to develop a learning delivery plan that includes sets of bespoke workshops to be delivered through the citywide learning programme from February through to September 2021. This is how we achieved coproduction of these workstreams: In early 2021 Anna Mather, Project Officer – VOICES, facilitated several online consultation sessions with key partnership stakeholders; the aim of the sessions were to identify specific learning needs of local services in relation to housing and welfare benefits advice.  This was different to identifying general trainings needs as the themes identified were based on actual real lived examples in which staff had previously received training but became faced with trying… Continue Reading

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