Advocacy, participation and volunteer services

The advocacy and participation service

The service offers a range of participation activities, Independent Visiting, Mentoring Project, Advocacy and enrichment activities for children in care and care leavers.

Advocacy for Children and Young People

Advocacy is about speaking up for children and young people and helping them take part in decisions that affect their lives. It involves making sure their rights are respected, and their views and wishes are heard and acted upon.

Who do advocates work with?

  • Children and young people, over the age of 5, who have child protection plans.
  • Children in care and care leaver aged up to the age of 21.
  • Care leavers up to the age of 25 if in education or with a disability.
  • Any child or young person wanting to complain. All children and young people considering making a complaint must be referred to our service.

What does an advocate do?

  • Provide support to children and young people to give their views at LAC reviews, pathway plans, child protection conferences and other important meeting.
  • Help children and young people understand and receive their rights and entitlements.
  • Work exclusively for the young person, confidentially and upon their instruction.
  • Provides support to those making complaints and helps to solve problems through representations.

(LAC advocates adhere to the National Advocacy Standards (DOH 2002) and provide an open information service. All information received about a young person is shared directly with the young person. Advocates never give their own view and all views represented are the views of the child or young person).

Referrals

Young people can self-refer by phoning or texting Sarah Walsh, Advocacy and Participation Officer on 07739 317365. Professionals should email claire.blakemore@rbkc.gov.uk to request a referral form.

The Participation Project for Children in Care and Care Leavers

The Future Union (The Children in Care Council)

Children and young people, attending the Future Union meet monthly to share their views and experiences. It also offers activities and the chance to develop new skills, make new friends and have fun. The aim of this group is to influence decision makers, contribute to the design of services and increase awareness of the issues affecting the lives of children in care and care leavers. 

Consultations and the Corporate Parenting Panel

Each year the participation team carries out four consultations, and offers trips and activities as rewards to children and young people taking part. The results of the consultations are shared with the Corporate Parenting Panel. Membership of the panel includes children in care, care leavers, the Director of Children’s Services, the Assistance Director for Looked After Children, Cabinet members and various other leaders who have a role in service delivery for children in care. 

Young Interviewers Scheme

Young Interviewers are care experienced children and young people, who take part in the recruitment of frontline, managerial and directorial posts within Children and Family Services. The scheme can provide either a full youth panel, one or two panel members, or an interview exercise delivered by young people. The young interviewers are also able to construct questions or an exercise to test for a particular attribute or skill. Young interviewers gain valuable insight into the recruitment process and are able to improve their own interview skills. They also receive training and payment. This is a very popular service and it is advisable to book well in advance. The recruiting service/manager is responsible for arranging payments, and lunch for the young interviewers.

Young Inspectors​

This group of young people carry out inspections, conduct peer to peer interviews and bring their unique insight to service evaluations. The young people receive accredited training, and payment for taking part. The project provides them with opportunities to increase their confidence, develop communication and social skills, as well as meet new people and have fun.

Contact the Participation Worker

If you would like to refer a young person, or you are a young person interested in any of the projects please email sarah.walsh@rbkc.gov.uk for more information.

Enrichment Activities for Children in Care and Care Leavers

Engagement Officer

The Engagement Officer, based within the participation team, works one to one with children in care and care leavers supporting them to engage in activities. They offer regular sessions and support children and young people to develop their self-esteem and peer relationships. Social workers, teachers and key professionals can make referrals by emailing claire.blakemore@rbkc.gov.uk.

Mentoring and Independent Visitors project

This project provides specialist and peer mentors, and independent visitors for children in care and care leavers. Mentors have a range of skills and backgrounds and use coaching and mentoring techniques to support mentees to reach a goal. Independent visitors are volunteers who befriend a child in care. During their monthly visits the volunteer and young person go out and undertake a variety of activities depending on their interests and the age of the young person.
 
If you would like to volunteer or request a mentor or visitor, please phone Crystal Crawford, Mentoring and IV Co-ordinator on 07739 317367 or email crystal.crawford@rbkc.gov.uk.

Stepping Up

This annual event, celebrates the achievements of all RBKC children in care and nominated care leavers, which takes place in the February half term. 

The next Stepping Up will be on 15 February 2018

The event showcases and recognises the achievements of young people as measured against their own circumstances. Those attending can take part in an array of activities and games, will have an opportunity to see films or performances created by young people, and hear inspirational speeches.  

If you are a young person or professional who would like to get involved with the planning of this event or would like to make a nomination please email sarah.walsh@rbkc.gov.uk.

Enrichment Activities: Work Experience for Children in Care

Teenagers to Work provides a work experience opportunity for children in care and care leavers in school for years 10 to 13. It takes place in the first two weeks of the summer holiday. The aim is to help young people build employability skills, whilst also giving them an opportunity to participate in service delivery. Work placements are based within council departments, such as working with children on play schemes, office based placements, or practical placements with the gardening or maintenance teams.

We are always looking for new placements and if you would like to support a young person to develop work readiness skills and provide a placement please email claire.blakemore@rbkc.gov.uk.