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Looked after children

2. Children's advocacy and independent visitors

National youth advocacy service (NYAS) - Who are we?

A national children’s rights charity. With over 25 years’ experience of providing advocacy and other services for children and young people.

Our mission statement :
"To enable children and young people to have a voice by providing independent and confidential advice, information and advocacy services"

Our core values

  • NYAS believes children and young people have an intrinsic worth irrespective of race, language, religion, disability, gender or sexuality
  • Children and young people have the right to be seen, heard and listened to and for their wishes and feelings to be given due weight
  • Children and young people should be given opportunities to be heard in judicial and administrative processes concerning them

From April 2009, NYAS has been providing an Advocacy service in the county for children and young people who are:

  • in care (up to age 18)
  • eligible care leavers (up to the age of 21)
  • taking part in Family Group Conferences

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is the process of one person helping another to represent their views and to speak “as if.” An advocate enables the young person either to say what they want to say themselves or represent the issues and views on behalf of the young person, after ensuring that they have been fully briefed and understand the issues. (ie their rights and responsibilities)

Advocacy what it is NOT

  • A long term supportive, “mentoring” relationship
  • Led by notions of what is “best” for the young person
  • A decision-making role

Advocacy

A Confidential Service - We offer a confidential service to young people. We will only share information with others if we have the young person’s permission. Child protection concerns are always shared within recognised policy and procedure.

Wishes and Feelings - We work on the wishes and feelings of the young person, not a "best interests" approach.

Issue Based Advocacy - Dealing with a specific request or issue for a young person.

Child-led Approach

A Pragmatic Approach - We are honest and realistic with young people as to what can be achieved by advocacy intervention.

Local Resolution - We will always try to resolve issues on an informal level using negotiation and mediation skills with the immediate people/professionals involved.

Supporting Formal Complaints - If negotiation/mediation is not successful we can support the young person to submit a complaint and help them understand the process.

Advocacy – What you should expect

Compliance with National Standards

NYAS was one of the leading agencies in developing the framework for National Standards for the Provision of Children’s Advocacy Services, published by the Department of Health in 2002.

Independent Visitors

  • Someone who visits regularly – once a month
  • A long term befriender: a minimum of 2 years
  • Independent from social care
  • Someone who creates and shares new experiences – and has fun!
  • Lay people/Volunteers
  • Recruited, trained and supported by the local project following Safer Recruitment guidelines
  • They befriend, support, advise, encourage, and offer friendship on a 1-1 basis
  • Spend time JUST with the child or young person
  • Focus only on the child or young person’s needs

What NYAS offers:

NYAS Freephone Helpline for young people. Monday - Friday 8am - 8pm and Saturday, 9am – 4pm.

Access to NYAS Legal Services for young people and their advocates through the Helpline.

Access to a range of advocates across the country.

Information to the local authority regarding: issues facing young people (emerging themes) and outcomes of interventions.

Making a referral for advocacy

  • Gain the consent of the young person to make a referral
  • Referrals can be made by anybody: e.g. young people, professionals, foster carers, RSW's etc.
  • Criteria for access to service needs to be met: looked after, care leaver, etc.
  • Referrals should be made to the NYAS Helpline
  • We aim to allocate referrals to advocates within 24 hours
  • Information shared with us is likely to be shared with the young person

Making a referral for an independent visitor

  • Criteria for access to service needs to be met: ie the young person is looked after
  • Gain the consent of the young person to make a referral
  • Initial referrals to the NYAS Helpline can be made by anybody, but the young person’s social worker will have to make the formal (form-based) referral
  • Following the initial referral to the Helpline, the Helpline Advisor will contact the local IV Co-ordinator
  • The IV Co-ordinator will then send the referral pack to the young person’s social worker for completion
  • The social worker should then complete the pack and return it to the local IV Co-ordinator.
  • The Co-ordinator will then work to “match” the young person to an IV.

ALL Referrals go through the NYAS helpline - 0800 616101

Helpline staff will speak with the young person or professional and record the issue. They will then:

  • in the case of an advocacy referral, contact the local Project Manager who will allocate an advocate as soon as possible
  • in the case of an IV referral, contact the local Co-ordinator who will send out the referral pack to the young person’s social worker

Where are we based in Buckinghamshire?

The Coach House
39 Walton Road
Aylesbury
Bucks
HP21 7SR
Tel: 01296 432540
Fax: 01296 436147

Project Staff Team:
Ruth Gaisford - Independent Visitor Coordinator
Debra Appleby - Project Administrator/PA
Janet Galsworthy - Advocacy Coordinator

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Last updated: 9 October 2017

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