I recently had the absolute pleasure of being commissioned through VOICES (1) citywide learning programme to deliver Motivational Interviewing (MI) training to a collection of learners from across Stoke-on-Trent.
The VOICES project is aimed at testing alternative approaches to tackling systemic barriers to effective support along with learning and evaluation to identify what works well. The project has achieved numerous examples of coproduction and lived experience (Expert Citizens) is included in the design, development and delivery at all levels. The fact that so many Expert Citizens attend MI training and other various learning opportunities goes some way to demonstrate VOICES pledge to educate, inform and empower.
Expert Citizens C.I.C. (3) began as a group of volunteers supporting the VOICES project in 2014; all have lived experience of multiple needs – combinations of homelessness, mental ill-health, offending, addictions, poverty and domestic violence. They have worked with VOICES to offer Peer Mentoring to customers, INSIGHT evaluations to services and as Educators within the VOICES learning programme. Expert Citizens C.I.C. is now an independent organisation that offers unique skills and experiences to be a voice for others; to give ideas and education to services nationally and to help shape the care and support for people experiencing multiple needs (2.)
We are so fortunate to have VOICES here in North Staffordshire, we are gifted with an array of training programmes that benefit both the customer and the organisations offering support. Their programme ensures that ensures that the courses are always engaging and reflect what is required locally, all the while keeping an eye on national issues and how they are impacting people from Stoke.
Sharon Sharman - Learning and Evaluation Manager of VOICES – says:
“It’s a fantastic opportunity that Stoke-on Trent has been given. My role is both interesting and challenging: having the chance to bring people from across a city together in the same learning environments is key to building the confidence, knowledge and understanding of delegates. Not only do people learn about the subject, but they also come to understand the abilities and constraints of each other’s services. This way we can collectively identify gaps within our local system and plan for preferred futures. Staying ahead of changes in key legislation is crucial to prepare our workforce for implementation. We always aim to commission the best providers in their field, ensuring that content is focused on supporting people experiencing multiple needs. This course, and several other courses that Steve delivers, do just that and we receive very positive feedback from attendees."
It is an absolute pleasure to work alongside such talented and committed individuals in the VOICES / Expert Citizen C.I.C teams; going above and beyond to make Stoke-on-Trent a city of excellent learning and development opportunities.
I recently updated the two-day course and introduced two new life stories from people living in Staffordshire. Both ‘Lola’ and ‘Colin’ have overcome great difficulties in their lives and emerged as the wonderful human beings they were always destined to become. I worked alongside them and supported various organisations as we saw them both challenged, supported and encouraged to do more and embrace a more meaningful use of their time. As part of the learning, I use various activities to show how they both overcame their deeply held ambivalence regarding self-change and show how they are both now living a more productive and engaged life.
The various learners who attended the training range from social workers to front line staff at the DWP, staff from the YMCA, Brighter Futures, Arch and other homeless organisations. It is fascinating to see how these disparate people alongside each other and really get to know what services and challenges there are for people in Stoke. What Voices does so well is create an environment whereby these organisations learn and thrive by listening to each other and adapting services based on the lived experience of the Expert Citizens.
Feedback was 100% positive and its remarkable how many learners take the time to contact me to say how much they have enjoyed the training and how they are putting what they have learned into practice. I’ve included a few examples for you to peruse at your leisure.
“I really enjoyed this training. I’ve learned a lot of tips and techniques and the trainer made it fun and engaging.” Mike
“Steven was great at delivering the training would love to do another course with him in the future.” Rachel
“Excellent training, really enjoyed the course and feel my practice will benefit from this training.” Gwen
“Very good course, just right in length of time for subject matter then time to practice and build up techniques.” Nathan
“Very helpful course and informative, fun and would highly recommend.”! Anon
“Amazing knowledge, which has now been absorbed. Always use Steve, amazing!” Benjamin
“A brilliant two-day course! Lots of interactive content, I learnt lots and will recommend top my colleagues that they attend. Lots of thoughts about changing the way we currently work.” Sam
“Very interesting course which has empowered me to want to embed these skills to support families I work with. Very engaging and interactive plus inclusive. Steven makes training very interesting and fun for all.” Rachel
1: VOICES: Voice of Independence, Change and empowerment in Stoke-on-Trent is funded through the national lottery Community Fund as part of the fulfilling lives: supporting people with multiple needs programme