Helping Jamie

What was the young person’s situation before working with Advocacy Focus?

Jamie is a 15-year-old who lives at home with their parents. Jamie became subject to a child protection plan because of police information relating to their dad. Jamie had a good relationship with their dad and did not believe the allegations, but was  stuck to the safety plan in place. Jamie did not have a good relationship with their social worker and did not feel the support they had in school was working for them anymore. Jamie asked for the support of an advocate to help him ask professionals questions, make sure he was listened to and ask for information.

What did you do to help the service user?

The advocate met with Jamie in school. Jamie shared in this initial meeting they use they/them pronouns and highlighted this as being something important that they wanted professionals to know. Jamie explained to the advocate that, although they understood the reasons for the child protection plan, they did not agree with it, or the restrictions it was placing on their life.

Jamie told their advocate that they knew what they wanted to say, but did not feel that this was being heard. Together, the advocate and Jamie collated Jamie’s views and put these into a statement to be shared at the upcoming review conference. Jamie wanted to request that professionals consider the day-to-day impact the safety measures outlined in the child protection plan were having on their and their family’s lives.

Jamie did not want to attend their review conference, so the advocate shared Jamie’s views with their social worker and requested that the chair’s summary be shared with them within 48 hours of the conference.

At the review conference the decision was made for Jamie to remain subject to a child protection plan. The decision, the reason for the decision, and the date of the next core group meeting were shared in writing . Once Jamie had processed the content, they shared their views with the advocate via email. It was important to Jamie that these views were shared in their exact words at the next core group meeting, so the advocate sent a voice recording of themselves reading the email verbatim to the social worker and requested that it be played out for the core group to hear.

The advocate has continued to meet with Jamie in school to build a working relationship and get to know them  as was their wish. The advocate has also continued to raise questions with the social worker on Jamie’s behalf about timescales, alternative options, and flexibility within the safety plan to allow the family to feel some level of normality throughout the process.

What was the outcome?

Although the outcome of the child protection process was not what Jamie wanted, they did feel that their voice had been heard within this meeting. In receiving the summary from the chair promptly, as requested by the advocate, Jamie was not left questioning what had been discussed and what was being proposed to be put in place. This meant that Jamie was able to challenge anything they believed to be inaccurate and have discussions with the social worker about these before they became ‘accepted as fact.’

The advocate supported Jamie to develop strategies and tools for sharing their views, thoughts, and feelings, which Jamie is now able to use with all professionals. This has led to the start of a better relationship with their new social worker and improved relationships with pastoral staff in school. Jamie’s confidence to state their rights and request that they be upheld has improved, allowing them to access all support they are entitled to.

Through creative methods, the advocate was able to ensure that Jamie’s words, in the exact way they wanted them to be heard, have been heard at core group meetings and the review conference. The impact of these words on professionals resulted in them shifting their approach to working with Jamie and highlighted that only Jamie truly knows what it is that they think, feel, and want.

Why do you think advocacy support was so effective?

Advocacy support has been so effective because the advocate has been led completely by Jamie. In giving Jamie a sense of power and control when they felt so much of that had been taken from them through strategies to keep them safe and manage risk Jamie has felt actively willing and able to reach out to the advocate as ‘the person who will have my back’ throughout the child protection process so far.

Advocacy support has also allowed Jamie to have access to someone who is not there to question, probe, or influence, but is there to get to know them and to support others to know them a little better too. In one visit with Jamie, they shared ‘it can sometimes feel like everyone is looking for me to say the right thing or the thing that they want me to say anyway. But with you, it doesn’t feel like that. You just let me talk, and then we figure out what it is that I’ve been saying and then it kind of all makes a bit more sense.’

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