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Category: Web Log

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

Volunteers Week: Big Thank You

VOICES big thank you
Authors: Lee Dale, Community Development Coordinator, VOICES & Penny Vincent, All The Small Things CIC   What is Volunteers week? As well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers’ wellbeing too. It’s human nature to feel good after helping someone out. Volunteering can also help you gain valuable new skills and experiences and boost your confidence. Volunteers Week takes place between the 1st and 7th of June every year. It’s a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, our focus has been, and remains on, supporting volunteers to take on coronavirus-related volunteering roles to help communities cope with the many consequences of coronavirus. It goes without saying that volunteers have played a key role in the pandemic response and it’s important that we acknowledge and celebrate the contribution of current volunteers. We are looking forward to Volunteers’ Week 2021 to recognise the huge role volunteers have played.   Big Workshop Day – 2nd June 2021 In collaboration VOICES, 1000 lives, Expert Citizens CIC and All the small things will be holding a workshop day where we have a schedule of learning topics to develop new skills related to volunteering and people interested in taking social action. In… Continue Reading

Interprofessional working: “Come with me if you want to live”

VOICES endocharditis event
By Anna Mather, Project Officer, VOICES   In 2019 two of our cities Cardiology Consultants Dr Satchi and Dr Whittaker were on the Endocarditis ward, they recognised people experiencing multiple disadvantage, especially where addiction issues are present, often struggled when admitted to hospital as an inpatient. After recognising these difficult cases Dr Whittaker and Dr Satchi reached out to services in the wider community to gain a better understanding of their roles, they wanted to create the necessary changes to ensure that any patient they may have on the ward with multiple and complex needs in the future is supported in the best way possible,  based on the individual needs of the patient. From this an event was co-organised ‘Come with me if you want to live’, originally due to happen in April 2020 but due to C19 had to be changed to an online event. The rescheduled event happened on Tuesday 27th October via Zoom. Many professionals came together, including VOICES, from varying disciplines to share learning and understanding but also to create a pathway of support for individuals who maybe on the ward with multiple and complex needs. The day focused on the value of interprofessional working and changing how we look at the work ‘team’…… Continue Reading

The show must go on…

VOICES the show must go on
By Saul Turner, Community Development Coordinator, VOICES   In the summer of 2019, working with people in recovery and leaving detox, we identified that there was a gap in opportunities for people in these circumstances to connect with others.  On exploring options, customers and volunteers told us that they would benefit from having a weekly opportunity to get together, enabling a safe environment in which they could share their achievements, struggles, worries and concerns. Several were experiencing mental and physical difficulties and felt alone. We decided to look at ways that we could support people to connect and, as a result, “Snapback” was formed. This is a weekly meeting for peers to share and support each other. The group soon expanded to having 2 accessible venues per week plus once weekly within the local detox unit (Edward Myers Unit).  The groups had just started to establish themselves and grow in attendance, then running into March 2020 …. the world as we knew it stopped and COVID-19 made its deadly appearance.  At first, we felt, there was nothing we could do; everywhere was shut – no venues, no meeting face to face, 2 metres apart, masks and bubbles.  Even when restrictions were eased between… Continue Reading

Listening VOICES: Project management that makes listening and learning systematic

VOICES jellymould
Author credit: Jo Johnson, Jellymould co-founder and project manager of a new digital service for VOICES   I’m a co-founder of Jellymould, a small design agency working with charities and social businesses, mostly within the homelessness sector. In my role, I’ve gained 20 years’ experience of leading the design, delivery and ongoing management of numerous digital services and websites. We recently began work on an exciting new project with VOICES, and it’s been interesting to learn about their approach to managing projects and designing services and the similarities between us, despite our different expertise. Jellymould is a user-centred design agency – that means that we put users, their goals and needs, first. And, for a designer, a user is anyone who will use or be affected by our work, so if a project’s users happen to be people with lived experience of homelessness, it’s their goals and needs that are our top priority. To enable us to do this methodically, we’ve evolved an approach based on Design Thinking, fairly common in modern product design. Apple and Google have adopted it, for example, and it’s taught at MIT, Stanford and Harvard. It involves engaging the product’s users and other stakeholders systematically throughout each of the… Continue Reading

Stronger, more active communities

VOICES stronger more active communities
By Lee Dale, Community Development Coordinator, VOICES   We are proud to be working with our partners; Expert Citizens C.I.C., All The Small Things C.I.C. and 1000 Lives, on an exciting project of Coproduction in Community Development. Last year – before the first lockdown – we came together to coproduce a project plan to incorporate learning around community development models, approaches, community organising, community networking and planning a wide scale community networking event. With the move to home working plans were delayed slightly, but within a few weeks we were engaging remotely through online sessions. Initially we learned about each other’s organisations and explored which community development approaches we use in our daily work. We are now engaging in a series of co-designed workshops with regular reflective practice sessions. Our first workshop was delivered to us by All The Small Things titled ‘An Introduction to Community Organising’. This was a two-day event and looked at everything from identifying community needs through to empowerment and community-based action. Further to this we have been conducting reflective practice sessions while looking more in depth at different models of community development. A personal highlight of mine so far has been a discussion around “Power”; Who has the power… Continue Reading

Housing First and Peer Mentoring in Stoke-on-Trent

VOICES housing first and peer mentoring
What is Housing First?   “Housing First is an evidence-based approach to successfully supporting homeless people with high needs and histories of entrenched or repeat homelessness to live in their own homes. It has been widely adopted across the US, is central to the national homelessness strategies in Canada, Denmark, Finland and France, and is growing in popularity in countries including Italy, Sweden, Spain and, increasingly, the UK. Successful Housing First pilots are operating in Newcastle, London, the Midlands, Greater Manchester, on the South Coast and in Wales and Scotland. The overall philosophy of Housing First is to provide a stable, independent home and intensive personalised support and case management to homeless people with multiple and complex needs. Housing is seen as a human right by Housing First services. There are no conditions around ‘housing readiness’ before providing someone with a home; rather, secure housing is viewed as a stable platform from which other issues can be addressed. Housing First is a different model because it provides housing ‘first’, as a matter of right, rather than ‘last’ or as a reward.” From Homeless Link – Housing First in England, The Principles   What is Peer Mentoring?   “Involving people with their own lived experiences is invaluable in… Continue Reading

What is Speech and Language Therapy and why should I care?

VOICES SLT
By Leigh Andrews, Speech and Language Therapist, Change Communication   Communication. We take it for granted, but when it goes wrong it’s easier to appreciate this amazing, complex and essential skill. The right of expression is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under Article 19. Think about how you learn, get on in work, build relationships and solve problems…all these activities need communication skills and abilities to be effective.   My name is Leigh Andrews and I’m a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) with Change Communication. I help people and organisations talk, think and listen. As far as I know I am the only SLT specifically working in the field of homelessness. What does an SLT do? Well, we are experts in human communication. We know what it is, how it develops, how it can change over time, and what things may help if communication goes wrong. In the UK our training covers every life stage from premature babies to people receiving end of life care. Something that may surprise you is that we are also the clinical experts in how your swallowing ability works. Being able to communicate and safely eat and drink is essential to your whole life! What does this have… Continue Reading

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