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  1. Volunteers Week 2021: Meet Ben

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    It’s Volunteers Week and to showcase some of the amazing work our volunteers do, we’d like to share Ben’s story.

    Ben* was 10 years old when he met our volunteer. He lived in foster care with his female foster carer and her mother. Ben’s social worker made a referral into our Independent Visitor service, as Ben wished to have a male influence in his life. Ben has been diagnosed with ADHD and PTSD.

    What is an Independent Visitor (IV)?

    An Independent Visitor is a volunteer who befriends a young person in care. It is an increasingly vital and valuable role that can make a positive difference to a child’s life.

    What our IV did

    Our IV introduced Ben to the local stables for horse riding where he would go two times per week. They also encouraged him to join the Air Cadets, and a youth club. The IV initially took him out twice a month, increasing to three times a month shortly after. Since the pandemic, Ben has continued to move between children’s homes and foster carers, his only constant has been our IV. Over the years they have played football, swimming and occasionally diving; watching ice hockey; cinema; clothes shopping; playing badminton and much more.

    Volunteer Feedback

    Our volunteer said:

    “During the initial contacts, Ben found it hard to trust me and lacked confidence in trying new activities. However, he did gain more confidence, for example, by attending a diving session where he eventually showed no fears in jumping from the 10 metre board. He also learned to trust that I wasn’t reporting back to people all the things he was saying or doing whilst out on visits. Over 4 years we have developed a close relationship. To the extent that with all the changes of placement and phone numbers over the past 18 months, Ben always answers my texts and/or phone calls. Whilst we haven’t been able to see each other very often and certainly haven’t been able to do activities [because of the pandemic] nevertheless we have retained a good relationship and retain trust and respect.”

  2. Demonstrating our support for Dementia Awareness Week 14-20th May

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    Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. But awareness and understanding remains low and many families are facing it alone.

    To play our part the awareness week, we thought we would share how we help people living with dementia through our highly skilled advocacy service.

    At Advocacy Focus, we have a vast experience of helping to give support and understanding and practical support to those living with dementia, and their families. We have 12 trained dementia friends and are in the process of training up a further 6 team members.

    How Advocacy helped Mr Shaw from Lancashire

    Our Independent Advocate Becci Jackson recently acted as a Paid Relevant Persons Representative (RPR) for an individual who was living in a care home with no friends or family.

    Unfortunately, the individual was unhappy with being in the care home and would often pack his belongings and sit by the front door for long periods.

    Becci visited the client every month and, as a result of working with the client over a period of time and building up a relationship, it was discovered that the client was not happy in the care home due to not being able to go out, and there being a lot of noise coming from the resident in the room next to him, meaning he could not sleep.

    Taking the time to listen to the concerns of the individual meant that we could then help to address the specific concerns.

    As is our duty as the person’s representative, we take our role very  seriously and we worked closely with the care home staff and the person’s Legal Power of Attorney and as a result, he has been able to visit shops in the local area, garden centres, go for walks along the lake and go to the pub.

    We also raised his concerns around the noise at night to staff in the care home and he was offered an alternative room in a quieter area of the home which he accepted.

    Our client is now very happy in the care home, is able to maintain access to the local community, and feels his new room is “top notch”. This is just one example of how we can help people, even those living with dementia to have a better quality of life and achieve the things that matter to them.

    To find out about how Advocacy can help you or someone you know, phone 0300 323 0965 or email admin@advocacyfocus.org.uk

    To find out more about the Dementia Awareness Week, click here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/downloads/20167/dementia_awareness_week

    Alzheimer’s Society have created a useful booklet which outlines 5 things that you need to know about dementia, download it here.https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/download/downloads/id/1739/5_things_you_should_know_about_dementia.pdf

  3. Jane’s experience of Advocacy Focus

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    My sister has had mental health problems since she had meningitis as a child and the two of us have always been inseparable. As she got older my sister had to live in care homes and that’s when I feel the problems started. I felt that the staff at the care home where my sister was living were mistreating her and actually putting her in danger. I had a social worker at the time but she always seemed to be on the side of the care home staff and I thought allowed them to get away with treating my sister really badly.

    I got in touch with Advocacy Focus because I had heard about advocacy and they have been an absolute lifeline for me and my sister – nothing is too much trouble for them. They came with me when I had to attend meetings between social services and the care home and helped me to understand what was going on and to put my point across. When I’ve had to write letters trying to support my sister, my advocate helped me to say things clearly and get the message over.

    They really have been on my side all along the way and have helped me to get things sorted. At one point I was banned from seeing my sister for 9 months at the care home and that broke my heart, but Advocacy Focus helped me to get that sorted out.

    They have helped me in so many ways over the years, I really couldn’t have managed without them.”

    * the person’s name has been changed in order to protect her identity

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