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Seeing the Full Picture Around Multiple Disadvantage: Learnings from the Fulfilling Lives Programme

VOICES lottery event
About this event With a range of keynote speakers, interactive workshops, performances and networking, the final Fulfilling Lives conference is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate what has been achieved during this unique 8-year national programme. The conference will be held in person in Birmingham AND online on the same day. You can select which type of attendance you would prefer when booking your ticket. The online programme includes live-streams of keynote speakers, performances, and a selection of online interactive workshops.   The programme features: Keynote speakers Dominic Williamson (independent consultant), a senior civil servant from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and The National Lottery Community Fund Latest findings from the national evaluation of Fulfilling Lives led by CFE Research and The University of Sheffield Performances by people with lived experience of multiple disadvantage Workshops held by the National Expert Citizens Group, Fulfilling Lives Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, Fulfilling Lives South East, and the Centre for Homelessness Impact   The event is ideal for policy-makers, commissioners and senior practitioners from Changing Futures areas, MEAM areas, and anywhere that is interested in learning about how to do things a bit differently and make positive change for people facing multiple disadvantage.   For those attending in… Continue Reading

Effective transitions in Hospital Discharge: Stoke-on-Trent

Effective transitions in hospital discharge: Stoke-on-Trent
Authors: Baz Tameez – Project Officer, VOICES Alicia Simmons – Project Officer – VOICES   In late 2020 we mobilised a series of VOICES legacy projects that focus on gaps, barriers and issues that have been identified as key and ongoing challenges for people experiencing multiple disadvantages in Stoke-on-Trent.   The rationale for the project themes were drawn from a wide variety of sources including lived experiences of customers and colleagues, national research, case studies, academic articles, local evaluations, and insight from work undertaken across the VOICES partnership since 2014.  Our work shows that the transition from hospital or prison into the community is often a point at which plans – if they have been designed – can breakdown. We recognised that improved discharge planning for people experiencing multiple disadvantages would increase the likelihood of a successful transition and the establishment of a more sustainable foundation for recovery.  To work towards this, we collaborated with stakeholders from across the city and established the VOICES ‘Transitions -Hospital Discharge’ legacy project.  Our project team includes VOICES team members, Expert Citizens, and key stakeholders who have co-produced and are co-delivering the hospital discharge project. The aims of the project were: there is a set of recommended hospital release pathways… Continue Reading

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

Improving Legal Literacy: Homelessness Law and Legislation

Improving legal literacy: Housing Law and Homelessness
Authors: Geoff Davies – Housing Law Specialist Advisor (CASNS) Sharon Sharman – Director  (VOICES)   As a housing specialist from Staffordshire North & Stoke Citizens Advice (CASNS), I have been working within the VOICES team since October 2018.  This built on the success of a similar role in benefits advice.  The aim of the role was to support VOICES coordinators to achieve better outcomes for their customers in individual cases and to bring about wider system change by providing legal advice and support. I worked alongside the VOICES team to identify cases where specialist housing advice was needed to bring about solutions for customers, but also to identify system blockages affecting a wider group of people experiencing multiple disadvantages.  Part of my role was also to try and empower service coordinators to better advocate on behalf of their customers by improving their legal knowledge of housing issues. Working alongside the VOICES team helped us identify the most common housing issues affecting this customer group and the gaps in the team’s knowledge.  It quickly became clear that the approach of many coordinators was to consider whether a decision or process was ‘fair’ to their customer, rather than whether it was a correct legal decision which… 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

VOICES Legacy Video 2022

A short film to celebrate the journey and achievements of the VOICES project in Stoke-on-Trent. The VOICES project was funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund as part of the Fulfilling Lives programme: Supporting people with multiple needs. Stoke-on-Trent was one of 12 areas to share £112m over eight years which ended in March 2022. The programme objective was to test alternative approaches to improve services and systems for people experiencing multiple disadvantage (by this we mean combinations of homelessness, mental ill health, addiction and offending behaviour). VOICES mission was to empower people with multiple needs to change their lives and to influence the services they access.… 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

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