Helping Sophie

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

Sophie was a 17-year-old female who lived at home with her parents and sister. She was made subject to a child protection plan following a disclosure of sexual abuse with her brother being the perpetrator. Sophie was struggling with her mental health and was not accessing any support in relation to this.

What did you do to help the young person? 

I discussed with Sophie what her preferred method of contact was; she stated that she would like to keep this as telephone meetings initially as she felt most comfortable talking in this way. Sophie asked me to follow up on a CAMHS referral as the social worker said this had been made but Sophie had not spoken to anyone yet. Sophie also asked if I could clarify with the social worker or police whether there were any restrictions in place relating to contact with her brother.

I followed both queries up with Sophie’s social worker and relayed the information back to Sophie. Following this I maintained regular telephone contact with Sophie. Sophie did not wish to attend any core groups as she preferred to keep social care and their involvement separate from other aspects of her life. To ensure that Sophie’s voice was heard despite her not attending meetings, with Sophie’s consent, I shared relevant information with the social worker and raised questions on Sophie’s behalf when she asked me to.

After several telephone meetings Sophie stated that she would be happy to start meeting face to face. I met with Sophie and allowed her to share views, wishes and worries relating to the child protection plan. Sophie shared that she was concerned that her parents were allowing her brother to come to the house, and she would sometimes return home unaware that he was there. She stated that she found this increased her anxiety levels. Sophie also shared that she felt that her parents wanted her to have a ‘normal sibling relationship’ with her brother and that this would ‘never happen.’

Sophie shared concerns in relation to ongoing support from mental health services once she turned 18 as she ‘waited long enough for CAMHS, I don’t want to go backwards now I’m finally getting somewhere.’

I attended the RCPC on Sophie’s behalf at her request and, with Sophie’s consent, shared her concerns. Although at the RCPC it was agreed that the risk of significant harm had decreased, therefore the threshold for CP was no longer met, it was felt that there was some outstanding work to be completed before the case could be closed and in this would be included a review of the safety plan for Sophie and the expectations from parents in relation to any contact between Sophie and her brother.

I visited Sophie after the RCPC to explain the outcome. Sophie stated she understood but would like advocacy support for the discussion with her parents and social worker to allow her to fully participate and be honest with everyone. Although the case was closed to CSC, it was agreed with my manager that I could complete this final piece of work with Sophie as she had requested it and it tied in with closing the advocacy case.

What was the outcome? 

In our final meeting Sophie stated that she felt that support post 18 was now in place and that she was pleased that she had been listened to. Sophie stated that she felt like her parents had listened to her concerns and that she had been taken seriously by them. Sophie stated that she felt that she had access to the tools and services to allow her to start to move forward and was hopeful of going to university next September. Sophie is now closed to CSC and advocacy but is continuing to access support from CAMHS and specialist therapy.

Why do you think advocacy support was so effective? 

I think advocacy support was so effective in this case as it afforded Sophie the privacy and separation that she wanted whilst still allowing her to be involved in the CP process. In allowing Sophie to take the lead in respect of how and when she engaged with the advocate, Sophie was able to build a trusting relationship and be completely honest about her worries. In consenting for the advocate to share these concerns with professionals the issues were addressed, and measures were put in place to ensure Sophie was able to feel safe and protected at home and has continued access to appropriate support services. I believe that had the advocate insisted on face-to-face meetings from the start Sophie may have disengaged or not felt able to be completely open, which would have been detrimental to her progress. Advocacy support allowed Sophie to move at her own pace and engage when she was ready which led to a better working relationship and better outcomes for Sophie.

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