Helping Liam

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

Liam was a 9-year-old boy whose family was going to an Initial Child Protection Conference. There were concerns about neglect and that he had seen domestic abuse  at home. Liam had not been to many of his meetings before he had an advocate to support him. Liam’s social worker had mentioned the conference to him, but he did not fully understand what it involved.  

What did you do to help the person?

The advocate met with Liam in school before the conference to offer advocacy support and took time to build rapport with him. . Liam wanted the advocate to support him at the conference and they  talked Liam through the process in terms of structure, who would be there, and what the concerns were.

The advocate gathered Liam’s views, wishes, and feelings by using worksheets and prompts to gather a full picture of what he was happy with, worried about, and wished to change. With consent, these views were sent to the relevant professionals.

The advocate also asked Liam how he wanted to attend the conference and explained that he had different options. Liam wanted to attend the conference virtually at  school so that he could leave if things became difficult. Liam wanted his  wanted his advocate to sit with him during the meeting. The advocate  arrived at school early to help him prepare for the meeting. When it was time, Liam and his advocate joined the conference in a time slot arranged just for him to be listened to. Liam confidently asked direct questions to the Child Protection Coordinator, but also asked his advocate to share some views that he did not feel comfortable sharing himself. There were times Liam changed his mind about what to share by shaking his head to his advocate and the advocate respected this. Liam  asked questions about having contact with his dad and this was added to the action plan.

What was the outcome?

The family was not placed on a Child Protection Plan and remained at Child in Need (CIN) level. Liam was given a letter explaining the meeting and the new plan. Liam’s advocate went through all of this with him, answering any questions and explaining any words that Liam did not understand. Liam was happy with the outcome as  he understood that professionals did not think he was at risk of harm, as he had never thought that he was. Liam was happy that he was given the chance to ask  his questions about contact and he felt listened to as his new social worker had actioned this already.  Liam said that having his advocate meet with him beforehand helped him prepare for questions to ask in advance and to be involved.

The outcome was that Liam was able to be involved in his  meeting, share his  views with professionals, and understand what was happening each step of the way.

Why was advocacy support so effective? What was the impact?

Liam no longer feels that he needs support from an advocate, as he is now able to self-advocate and feel heard by professionals around him. Liam told his advocate that he has a better understanding what is going on and feels more confident to self-advocate thanks to advocacy support. When asked about the impact his advocate had, Liam said they “helped me to explain myself and make me more confident”.

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