A local advocacy charity has launched a free and independent new service to help young people between the ages of 12 and 18 have their say during Child Protection Proceedings.
Advocacy Focus says that Child Protection Advocacy will make a positive impact on young peoples’ lives, by ensuring they feel listened to and part of the process.
Child Protection focuses on the protection of young people who have been identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. It involves a series of meetings with various professionals, including the child’s parents and social worker, which seeks to find out if the child needs to have a care plan drawn up for them.
Justine Hogkinson, CEO of Advocacy Focus says; “Child Protection Advocacy is about listening to young people and helping them becoming more involved during Child Protection Conferences. These meetings can be daunting, scary and confusing for young people; an Independent Advocate will help them understand what is going on and why, and support them to communicate their wishes about their care and their future. Young people often have many ideas and views about how they are cared for, but often don’t have a chance to communicate them.”
Justine continues; “We believe that everybody, including young people, should have a say when decisions are being made for them, but something as simple as this can often be overlooked. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of making decisions that we think are in their best interest without even consulting them.”
Advocacy Focus, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is a North-West based charity, offering free, confidential and independent advocacy services in Lancashire, Trafford and Bradford. Since launching in Trafford in April, the charity has tripled advocacy referrals in the borough.
Justine continues; “Advocacy safeguards children and young people and protects them from abuse and neglect. Young people are very good at judging whether adults value them or not so it’s important that we listen to them and respect their wishes when Child Protection Proceedings are initiated. Children who feel supported and respected are more likely to open up about abuse and things that are affecting them.”
Young adults are able to refer themselves for an Advocate, or can get their social worker or parent/carer to do so on their behalf. The Advocate works independently from social services and the local authority and in the best interests of the young person.
Justine finishes; “We believe our support can help young people in Trafford feel happier, safer and live more fulfilled lives.