rights charity, NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) has placed care leaver support in the
spotlight, after being invited to address a special meeting of The All-Party
Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers (APPG).
NYAS was recently asked to speak to Parliament about how young people who leave care can be better supported. The charity took part in a session designed to explore, ‘What Makes a Good Personal Advisor?’ and was represented by NYAS Senior Advocate, Alan Culley who laid out the qualities required to ensure an exemplary and consistent personal advisor service for care leavers.
requires local authorities in England
and Wales to provide personal advisors to care leavers up until they reach the
age of 25. Personal advisors act as a
focal point for care leavers, ensuring that they are provided with the
practical and emotional support they need to make a successful transition to
adulthood and an independent life.
Research has shown
that care leavers are more likely to be at risk of; poor educational outcomes, unemployment,
homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency, offending and mental health issues
and the UK Government has stressed its commitment to improving outcomes for the
thousands of young people who leave care each year.
Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers (APPG) supports
that process by working with children and young people in care, practitioners,
children’s organisations and politicians to promote first-class government
policy for children in care.
Speaking after his
address to the APPG at the House of Commons, NYAS Senior Advocate, Alan Culley
said, “This was an excellent opportunity for NYAS, as a leading proponent of
vulnerable children and young people’s rights, to give an informed opinion on
how young people who leave care can be better supported. As an independent
advocacy service NYAS deals with a large number of issues affecting care
leavers and we see a lot of instances where young people do not feel they have
adequate support; they might be unaware of their personal adviser, be confused
over the differing roles of social workers and personal advisers, or need help
with housing issues or finances and not know where to turn, for example.
“We need to ensure
that there is consistency in regard to the qualities and capabilities of
personal advisors across the country, and that young care leavers are involved
in any decision-making process regarding the delivery and execution of this
“It was important
for us to communicate to the Group that a good personal advisor should be consistent,
reliable and resourceful. They also need to treat young adults as adults and
not children and, must care passionately about the future of the young people
they represent. It’s essential too that they are supported fully by the local
authority and receive proper training.”
Ben Twomey, NYAS
Head of Policy and Research who also attended the APPG session added, “We know
that the odds can be stacked up against the children and young people we work
with, including care leavers, and that’s why we want to ensure their voice is
heard in the corridors of power. By participating in forums like the one
provided by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and
Care Leavers, we can influence politicians and policy-makers, and help improve
the lives of the people we work with.
Alongside it’s lobbying and campaign work NYAS provides a range of services to young people in care and care leavers, including a national advocacy helpline, advocacy for children in care and those in the child protection system, participation programmes, the provision of independent visitors for children in care and representation of children in private family law.
Picture Caption (left to right) Ben Twomey, NYAS Head of Policy and Research, Alan Culley, NYAS Senior Advocate