Two young people from Sheffield Children in Care Council have named an exciting new campaign to strengthen children’s independent advocacy services in England. Independent advocates help children and young people to be heard and taken seriously, and play a crucial and unique role in making sure children’s rights are upheld.
Seventeen year-old Heather put forward ‘Advocates4U’ and Megan, aged 16, proposed ‘Your future, your dreams, your voice’.
Both young people are members of Sheffield Children in Care Council. Their winning entries were selected by a panel of judges including care leaver and author Ben Ashcroft who last year walked 300 miles to raise awareness of a separate campaign to promote the rights of young people living in residential care. Heather and Megan each win a £100 gift voucher.
On hearing her campaign name had been selected, Heather said:
“Wow this is so exciting and kind, and I don’t really know what to say!”
“Thank you for helping us have our voices heard and our opinions viewed. Thank you for this opportunity to win this wonderful prize.”
Children in Care Council members were invited to come up with a name that sums up the national campaign’s three goals, which are: for the government to have a national strategy to ensure children and young people can access high quality support from independent advocates; a legal entitlement to an advocate for all children and young people receiving or seeking care or support from the state; and visiting advocates for all institutions caring for children and young people.
John Kemmis, one of the judges from Article 39 children’s rights charity, said:
“Many congratulations to our two winners Heather and Megan. Heather’s winning entry clearly communicates what our campaign is about and we believe Megan’s words will inspire children and young people by summing up why advocacy is so important. Let’s hope that policy makers listen and make children’s independent advocacy services a national priority.”
Another judge, Claire Hyde, Assistant Chief Executive of NYAS, added:
“This is just the start of what we know will be a successful campaign which is involving children and young people from the onset to improve what is a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society.”
The campaign was launched by Article 39 in partnership with the National Children’s Advocacy Consortium and the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers at the end of November 2017.
It already boasts the support of nearly 40 organisations and all three current and former Children’s Commissioners for England.
- Local authorities first began appointing advocates (initially called children’s rights officers) in the late 1980s, amid revelations of widespread abuse in children’s residential care.
- Organisations can sign up to the campaign here.
- The Advocates4U Your future, your dreams, your voice campaign strategy group consists of Article 39, Coram Voice, the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers, NYAS and YoungMinds.
- Article 39 is very grateful to The Hadley Trust for supporting our policy work around children’s independent advocacy.