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Commissioning 2.0: Why our commissioning system must change

VOICES commissioning 2
Andy Meakin BA(Hons) MBA, Project Director, VOICES   I spent fifteen years of my public sector career involved in commissioning.  Through much of that time, I accepted the given orthodoxy that emerged from the 1980’s onwards in the New Public Management movement.  This sought to make public sector organisations more ‘business like’ and efficient.  It perhaps began in the context of commissioning with compulsory competitive tendering, went on to incorporate ideas of best value, and matured by around 2010 into what we can call ‘outcomes-based commissioning’ or, perhaps, what some are now calling ‘Commissioning 1.0’. This approach to commissioning is often rendered as a cycle with stages of plan, procure, monitor, and evaluate.  This is an adaptation of the much earlier Deming’s wheel from management theory (plan, do, check, act).         This model works well for relatively straight-forward procurements that deal with tangible outputs and aim to deliver relatively simple often deterministic outcomes.  Examples include consumables like stationary, tables, chairs, and equipment like laptops.  Commissioning 1.0 can also work well in some types of public sector services such as waste collection or construction projects.  Of course, each of those has its own complexities and challenges, but the thing that they all share is that the… 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

Staffordshire Police: Anticipating, preventing and responding through workforce development

VOICES workforce development
By Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation manager, VOICES   Commissioners, providers of services, teams and individual frontline staff often reflect on work undertaken to evaluate impact.  It can be easy to get wrapped up in ‘targets’, ‘outcomes’, ‘outputs’ and ‘benefits for the customer’, but how often do we take time to reflect and evaluate the impact on services?  This article looks at the benefits of workforce development delivered through our learning programme through the lens of colleagues at Staffordshire Police.   VOICES citywide learning programme began in 2015 and has developed over the years, through regular consultation with stakeholders, to ensure that we respond to learning needs identified in relation to supporting people experiencing multiple needs across the city of Stoke-on Trent. In addition to our regular masterclasses and training courses, we design and deliver bespoke workshops for specific service needs.  These are created through by applying a philosophy of coproduction in which real lived experiences are the core of content.   This year our learning programme was externally evaluated in which several partnership stakeholders were interviewed to gain a deeper understanding of how the learning programme benefits their service.  This quote was taken from one such interview with Staffordshire Police who discusses the specialist facilitators… 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

A Shock to the System

VOICES shock to the system
By Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager, VOICES   It was a cold Wednesday afternoon back in February this year– a usual day in the office. Fact finding and phone calls, report writing, gathering information and statistics, co-designing workshops with Expert Citizens and battling our way through complex systems.   Our Service Coordinators advocate assertively on behalf of people who, on a daily basis, have difficulty accessing the services they need to overcome multiple traumas and complex situations. It’s a mix of wondering where one person might sleep that night blended with a celebration that another had been safely homed in an appropriate environment with the right support. All this activity helps to form the ‘busy buzz’ in the office atmosphere. Just another day at work until at around 3.30pm, “You’ve got to be kidding!” An involuntary phrase escaped in the moment. The words broke through the busy office buzz for a moment. It was a short, brisk walk along the corridor, time being the factor, to discuss the situation with our service manager. She held in her hand a prison release plan that had just been emailed to us. “You need to see this”, she said. The plan related to a man who… Continue Reading

Join our team: Service Co-ordinator (full time post)

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: £22,037.20 Hours: 37 hours per week, Monday – Sunday, flexible to meet customer needs Job Ref: A576 Closing date:   Wednesday 18th November 2020 Interview date:  Wednesday 25th November 2020  via Outlook Teams     Download the full Job Description here   Download an application form here   Applicants wishing to submit a CV are encouraged to provide a separate written statement addressing the points within the Person Specification. You can find this by viewing the Job Description document. This job is also advertised on https://www.brighter-futures.org.uk/join-our-team/ where you can download an application form towards the end of the page. All completed application forms or CV’s accompanied by… Continue Reading

Stoke-on-Trent Community of Practice August 2020 : Prison Release

Following the last Community of Practice discussion around prison release on the 9th of September, members of the community met via zoom to reflect and discuss how it went and to touch on some of the points of the discussion.… Continue Reading

A man named Joe…

VOICES a man named joe
By Elena Casilli, Service Coordinator, VOICES   Joe* has multiple and complex need’s.  I’ve been working with Joe through VOICES for a few years.  Joe made a life changing decision when he was told by his consultant; “it’s not a matter of ‘if you continue to drink you may die’- you will die”.  Joe decided he wanted to live. Joe’s priority need was accommodation – a place to call home so he can start the next phase of his life. Joe had been sofa surfing, on and off, for a number of years. Joe was told by the council that there was a long waiting list for a modified property that would meet Joe’s specific needs and he was not a priority, as he was sofa surfing, regardless of being in an overcrowded property. Sofa surfers are and continue to be the hidden homeless and remain on no one’s priority housing radar. For all of that year Joe was stable, attending all his appointments, family relationships improved, he even got a couple of pets. No suitable property offers were made or if they were, it was in the wrong location – Joe had to be close to family as he needed their support. Joe required a home where… Continue Reading

Stoke-on-Trent Community of Practice: A Journey of Prison Release

VOICES communities of practice
By Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation Manager, VOICES   On 8th July 2020 @SoTCoP held the first online discussion of a series of sessions looking at the theme of Prison Release.  Anna Mather, Service Coordinator from VOICES, delivered a presentation to the community based on a customer’s real lived experience of his prison release plan.  Participants of the CoP were drawn from voluntary and statutory sector organisations involved in coordinating prison release.  The presentation:   demonstrated that, through using public transport routes it was not possible for the customer to have attended any of the organised appointments – the customer was of no fixed abode; two of the appointments were to discuss housing options. included the cost and timings of the journey if the individual had used taxi service(s) – costs are so high this would be a very unlikely option. showed that, being collected and supported by a VOICES Service Coordinator it was possible for the individual to have attended four of the six organised appointments.     Discussion followed; it was felt by the community that, if the person left prison with this plan with no Service Coordinator or other support, and was expected to access public transport, the plan would ‘set them up… Continue Reading

PIP & Work Capability Assessment: Good practice, guidance and templates

VOICES pip forms
By Lisa Kearns, Welfare Benefits Caseworker – Leading and Learning, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent   Whilst working with a Service Coordinator to support a customer with their claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), we realised that the main bulk of evidence for many customers, comes from the experiences and knowledge of the Service Coordinator alone.  This could be because the customer has been struggling to access support from the NHS or Social Care for example.   As the Service Coordinator spends a significant amount of time with the customer they will often be the person best able to identify the help and support needed and provide an accurate representation of this. Initially we asked the Service Coordinator to prepare a supporting letter explaining the customer’s needs whilst relating them to the relevant descriptors which are addressed at the face to face assessment for PIP.  The Service Coordinator felt unable to do this without a template or examples. We provided an old copy of a template used by Citizens Advice.  However it was written in a very technical style and the Service Coordinator struggled to understand the jargon used and to then apply it to someone with multiple and complex needs. We recognised that a… Continue Reading

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