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a day in the life of our ESCC senior advocate

My role involves receiving referrals for children and young people on average between 4 and 18 years old who have an East Sussex social worker. And I support care leavers and post adoption young people up to 25 years when they are in higher education or have special educational needs.

I also visit all East Sussex CC children’s homes monthly and the secure children’s home weekly. I engage with all the young people informally for a chat and then they often come up with issues that need resolving.

For example, a YP might move placement without all their belongings and there can be delays with resolving this. They can voice their frustrations to me and I can contact the professionals working with them to chase and help to resolve it faster for them.

As an independent advocate I am there to hear the voices of all the children and YP so that I can best represent their views, wishes, and feelings in child protection meetings and reviews, Family group conferences and LAC (looked after children) reviews. Being an independent advocate always brings out interesting views and opinions, sometimes these are hard for families to hear, but can be dynamic in instigating changes within the family dynamics.

For example, some YP may need support being heard by their parents as well as the professionals who are providing care for them. Where social services are supporting families, an advocate can come in and help the children voice their needs and preferences where decisions are often made on their behalf.

When I speak to younger children, I put them at ease by engaging them in some colouring or fidget toys while we speak. I describe myself as their loudspeaker and that what they say is so important to be added to any family plans. I use humour and tell them I am only interested in what they have to say not the grown-ups! This usually has an impact as they feel important and valued.

With teenagers I let them know I am there to listen and try and help them to get to the core of their issues and what they really want to happen next. I always say I can’t promise the outcome and they understand, but they know I am on their side to be listened to and taken seriously. I help them to also understand their own rights and responsibilities.

It’s an important service for care leavers as sometimes the transition from care to independence can be tricky for the young person to navigate. An advocate can support them to feel heard and not on their own, especially if they have trouble connecting with their new PA or there are delays with providing what they need to live a successful independent life.

To find out more about our advocacy service for East Sussex County Council, or to make a referral, please click here.


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