Empowering children and young people by giving them a voice

This content is sponsored by Barnardo's

This content is sponsored by Barnardo's

A Q&A with Barnardo’s Jersey Advocacy Service worker Hayley about how she ensures the wishes and feelings of young people are respected.
empowering children

At our Barnardo’s Jersey Advocacy Service, advocacy workers like Hayley listen to children, act for them, challenge decisions made about them, and defend and safeguard their rights. By advocating for children and young people we ensure their wishes and feelings are heard and taken on board.

Who is the service for?

We work with children and young people where extra support is needed to keep them safe. We make sure this meets the child’s needs by listening to them and helping them get their point of view across. This often involves working with the whole family, along with the other services involved in the child’s care.

Why might they need extra support?

All kinds of reasons. I’ve seen situations where the child’s at risk of emotional harm because their parents broke up, and aren’t on good terms or parenting effectively. Or there may be concerns because a parent’s dependent on drugs or alcohol. Sometimes, there are various things going on.

The Jersey Advocacy Service has supported 144 children and young people in 2021, empowering them to have a say in their future.

What do you do to try and help?

I encourage the children to tell me their deepest worries, things they might feel uncomfortable telling other professionals. Sometimes through play therapies when the child is young.

One technique I use is giving them paper dolls to write on and express how they’re feeling.

We were lucky to be able to continue to support our children and young people throughout the past year with face-to-face advocacy meetings! Schools supported us by creating safe places for advocates, children and their families to attend sessions in a private room. Of course masks were worn and sanitisers used and there was social distancing at all times.

This meant that the children’s own words were still being taken on board and they were able to contribute and have a really positive impact at the meetings. It’s always really powerful to hear from the children themselves, so it’s amazing that we were able to continue our usual ways of working with Covid.

What happens next?

I share any important information with local services and their families. One young child I was supporting told me it would be better if she ended her life so people wouldn’t need to worry. I shared this with mum and dad so they could provide better support between her two homes. Her social worker also arranged a mobile phone and now the child feels safer knowing she can call people. She’s also started attending a programme where she’s encouraged to talk about her feelings.

What do you like most about the job?

Giving children a voice so they can have a say in their future and the decisions made about their lives.

Find out how you can help

You can help the vulnerable children and young people we support to continue to grow and become independent by leaving a gift in your Will.  

 A gift in your Will is a special way to mark the experiences that shape you – and pass on the gift of childhood to future generations.

This content is sponsored by Barnardo's

Tags: Last modified: August 31, 2022

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