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Volunteers Week 2021 Celebrations Stoke-on-Trent

Click video above to play   This year’s Volunteers Week took place between the 1st and 7th of June. On the 4nd VOICES in collaboration with 1000 lives and Expert Citizens CIC held ‘The Big Thank You’ to celebrate and thank volunteers across the city for their kindness and hard work. It goes without saying that the past year has been both different and difficult – the response from volunteers up and down the UK has been integral to our unified response in supporting our communities. Never has it been so  important to take the time to recognise and acknowledge this, and so a massive thank you goes out  to everyone that came along to make for such a great day! We hope you enjoy the video of ‘The Big Thank You’ above, in addition you can view the comments and feedback from the ‘live chat on the day, here..… Continue Reading

Improving service transitions for people experiencing multiple disadvantage: Prison release webinar

Click video above to play   The experience of prison for people facing multiple disadvantage is often a reoccurring series of short sentences, which create huge disruption to their lives with limited benefit in terms of rehabilitation. Among Fulfilling Lives beneficiaries, there is an association between spending time in prison and having poorer outcomes. In this webinar that took place on the 10th June 2021, the evaluation team shared findings from their recent study exploring the experience of prison release for people affected by multiple forms of disadvantage and how this transition might be improved. The VOICES team were privileged to take part, presenting the findings, and subsequent recommendations, of a real-life example of a prison discharge plan entitled, “An Improbable Journey.” (click here for a downloadable pdf)   Below is some feedback kindly provided from attendees of the webinar:   “I have been tasked with strengthening relationships with our Referral Agencies who issue vouchers on our behalf and setting them up as E-referrers. E-referral codes are generated through a foodbank data system and can be issued verbally or via text message so no more red paper vouchers! I attended the webinar to gain a better understanding about the difficulties that prison leavers face. I also wanted… Continue Reading

VOICES legacy: ‘Housing First’

VOICES housing first
Author: Steve Willis, Project Officer, VOICES   The legacy project working towards mainstreaming Housing First in Stoke-On-Trent has made good progress so far. The project has been extended by a year. We have supported the Centre for Health And Development (CHAD) to evaluate the service. Watch this space for their findings! Over the past couple of months the Project Team has been focused on writing recommendations which we hope will inform a final service specification which will aim to secure incorporation of Housing First into the local system after VOICES has ended in March 2022. As well as drawing on our local learning, the recommendations we have written closely follow guidance from Housing First England and specifically the seven principles they state that a Housing First service should follow, based on the evidence of what works for people experiencing multiple and complex needs:   1. People have a right to a home 2. Flexible support is provided for as long as it is needed 3. Housing and support are separated 4. Individuals have choice and control 5. An active engagement approach is used 6. The service is based on people’s strengths, goals and aspirations 7. A harm reduction approach is used   https://hfe.homeless.org.uk/sites/default/files/attachments/The%20Principles%20for%20Housing%20First.pdf   Over the coming months we will look at these principles more closely… Continue Reading

‘DITTO’ – Telling our story once: Why does this matter?

VOICES ditto
Author: Alicia Simmons, Project officer, VOICES   I’m going to offer you an example of an experience I had whilst working as a VOICES service co-ordinator. This particular example is by no means one of the most distressing – I have plenty of those too. This will simply highlight basic frustration for our customers in having to answer the same questions over and over again.   I had been working with Sally for a few months already, she had difficulty engaging with services and was often distrusting of professionals. She has experienced many assessments and answered many difficult and personal questions. Sally’s multi-agency team had worked extremely hard to support her back into services. Her workers often had regular conversations (phone and email) and would work together in order to ensure Sally had at least been seen during the week. Therefore, scheduling an appointment and ensuring Sally was able to be found and attend, was a precise back and forth of contact with workers. I knew Sally disliked the regular questioning involved with assessments, she often couldn’t understand the relevance of some personal questions in relation to the service she was requesting support from. Prior to the face-to-face assessment, I had emailed the service… 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

How partnership work and coproduction are creating new ways of working in a learning organisation

VOICES restart coproduction
Authors: Anna Wilcox, Director of Services, Restart & Martin Schofield – Client Support Manager, Restart   The Restart service provides supported housing.  Our specialism is working with the most vulnerable ex-offenders who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. We recognise that often our clients have experienced a lifetime of personal challenges, which has significantly contributed to their circumstances.  Our purpose is to support clients in addressing complex issues such as homelessness, offending behaviour, family and community relationships, unemployment, mental health, drug and alcohol dependency, learning and life skills, with the aim of achieving independent living.   In October of 2019 Saltbox appointed a new Director of Services. Our commitment to provide a holistic approach to meet the needs of our clients has seen a restructure of the Restart management team.  This included placing a Quality and Development manager alongside our Client Support Manager to enhance the quality of the service. Our team includes 7 dedicated Support Workers, a property services team including a maintenance and domestic service, input from our Chaplain offering pastoral care, Work Coach for those clients who are seeking employment or training, and engagement with our Clinical Nurse, who provides substance misuse expertise. Our Client Development facilitator provides purposeful… Continue Reading

Coproducing learning opportunities with Adult Social Care in Stoke-on-Trent

VOICES care act toolkit
Author: Stephen Willis, Service Coordination Project Officer, VOICES   Download the Care Act Toolkit here   The legacy project team who are responsible for promoting the use of VOICES Multiple Needs Care Act Toolkit have been busy with the development of bespoke workshops with colleagues from Adult Social Care.  We recognised an opportunity for Adult Social Care to join us in this project to communicate the value of the toolkit and to explain to the citywide partnership what happens following a referral to Adult Social Care.  Since January 2020 we have attended several online sessions together that have resulted in the co-design of learning content to be shared across the city ahead of a schedule of bespoke workshops to be co-delivered alongside colleagues from Adult Social Care.   The workshops are being aimed primarily at partner organisations who intend to incorporate the use of the toolkit into their daily working lives when working with customers. They will also benefit from regular access to the Project Team post- workshop for guidance and reflection on the Toolkit’s use. It is hoped that the Toolkit will prove to be, not only a useful document when making a Social Care referral but will also serve as a training aid and… 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

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