What is Advocacy?
Advocacy allows you to have your views, wishes and feelings heard when important decisions are being made on that which will affect your life.
You have a right to be listened to and have your views taken seriously. Sometimes, it can be difficult to express how you feel, and you may think that your voice isn’t getting heard. This is when you might need the support of a NYAS advocate.
If you are a child or young person in Wales you have the right to an ‘active offer’ of advocacy. An ‘active offer’ means that you should always be told about your right to access an advocate. Someone should explain what an advocate is, and what they do when you begin your life in care.
What Does an Advocate Do?
NYAS advocates are always on your side. They are independent and do not work for your carers or children’s services - they are there only for you. An advocate won’t make decisions for you, offer legal advice, give their personal opinion or tell you what to do.
An advocate can:
- Explain what choices and legal rights you are entitled to
- Make sure your views, wishes and feelings are listened to and respected
- Help you to have a say in the decisions being made about your life
- Explain your situation and why certain decisions have been made
- Support you to speak up for yourself
- Attend meetings and reviews with you or attend on your behalf
- Speak up for you and challenge any decisions you want stopped, started or changed
- Support you to make a formal complaint
What Can My Advocate Help Me With?
Your advocate will be led by you and help you with whatever issues you’re worried about.
For example, we can help you when something makes you unhappy. Maybe you’ve been told you want to move or you don’t understand why you can’t see your family or friends. A NYAS advocate can help you to share your feelings, and if change isn't possible, they will explain why that decision has happened.
If our advocate can’t help you with a specific issue that you have, they can help you find out if there is someone who can. You can also ask to stop your advocacy support at any time.
No problem is too big or too small for a NYAS advocate to help you with.
What Can I Expect From My Advocate?
Your NYAS advocate will always be on your side. They will listen to what you want and always treat you with fairness and respect. When you start meeting with your advocate, they will make an advocacy plan with you.
Your advocacy plan will:
- Set out what help you need (what you want to stop, start or change)
- Inform you of the steps to help you achieve your goals
- Review how things are going and keep you updated
- Discuss and agree any other steps that need to be taken to achieve your goals
- Make sure you know how to contact your advocate
We love hearing about your NYAS advocacy experience. If you have any feedback about your advocacy journey, or you want to tell us why you were not happy with your advocate, let us know, and we can continue to improve.
In England, we work to the National Standards for the Provision of Children’s Advocacy Services.
In Wales, we work to the Independent Professional Advocacy National Standards and Outcomes Framework for Children and Young People in Wales from Welsh Government:
Will My Advocate Keep What I Say Private?
It is very important that you’re able to trust your advocate. This allows you to talk freely with them without worrying that they will tell other people what you have said.
What you share with your advocate is confidential. This means that your advocate won’t tell anyone outside of NYAS what you have said without your permission.
The only time that an advocate will share what you have said without your permission is if they are concerned that you or another child or young person is at risk or unsafe.
If your advocate has any concerns about your safety they will:
- Inform you that they need to speak to someone else
- Explain why they need to share your information
- Tell you exactly who they are going to speak to
- Keep you updated on what is happening
- Make sure you get the help and support you need
Advocacy really did help. I am quite a nervous person and needed someone to talk for me. I'm happy that I had someone who could say what I wanted to happen.
Young Person on NYAS' Advocacy Service
My advocate did the unthinkable. They got my voice heard. They were understanding of situations and non- judgemental.
Young Person on NYAS' Advocacy Service
How Can I Get An Advocate?
You can contact our national helpline by freephone telephone, online chat, email or WhatsApp.
If you prefer, you can ask your social worker or someone you trust to contact us on your behalf.
If English is not your first language, NYAS can provide an interpreter to join your call.
Our Helpline is open Monday to Friday 9.00am–8pm. If you contact us outside of these times, we will be in touch once the helpline opens again.