In November 2017, with the National Children’s Advocacy Consortium and the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers (NAIRO), we launched a national campaign to strengthen children and young people’s advocacy services. The campaign has three goals:
1) The development of a national strategy for children’s right to independent advocacy in England, framed around what children value and want from their advocates.
2) To enshrine in law the right to an independent advocate for all children and young people receiving or seeking care or support from the state.
3) To ensure every residential institution where children are looked after by the state has a system of independent visiting advocates to inform children about their rights and provide support when necessary to ensure these rights are upheld.
The campaign was conceived and championed by our dear friend and colleague, the late John Kemmis. Heather and Megan from Sheffield Children in Care Council gave the campaign its name – Advocates4U.
Campaign strategy group
Advocates4U is run by a campaign strategy group co-ordinated by Article 39:
- Brigid Robinson, Managing Director, Coram Voice and Coram Group Young People’s Programmes
- Carolyne Willow, Founder Director, Article 39
- Jenny Clifton, Article 39 Expert Panel
- Jon Fayle, Co Vice-Chair, NAIRO
- Joshua Williams, Head of Policy and Communications, NYAS
We approached former Children’s Minister and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children Tim Loughton MP with the idea of a parliamentary inquiry. This led to him hosting a parliamentary roundtable chaired by Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, in June 2018.
Children’s Commissioner’s Advocacy Working Group
Anne Longfield then established an Advocacy Working Group to develop a vision for the future of children and young people’s advocacy services. The report from this work was published in June 2019. One of the Commissioner’s 10 recommendations was for the Department for Education to update statutory guidance (including the national standards) on advocacy services.
Revision of the national standards for children and young people’s advocacy services
Article 39 worked with the then Co-Chairs of the National Children’s Advocacy Consortium (Brigid Robinson and Julie Prior) and an Expert Advisory Group of practising advocates to revise the national standards for children and young people’s advocacy services. This work was undertaken in 2019, and the final document shared with the Department for Education in 2020.
On the evening of 2 March 2020, the then Children’s Minister Vicky Ford announced that the Department for Education would be consulting on a new set of standards. The consultation is now live, and runs until 18 December 2023. You can read Article 39’s version of the draft new standards here.
We are very grateful for the time and expertise of advocates who reviewed and improved the 2002 standards. Members of the Expert Advisory Group (2019):
- Andy Curtis, Reconstruct
- Emma Robinson, Coram Voice
- Gill Black, Change, Grow, Live
- Kate Pearson, Barnardo’s
- Kate Seneviratne-Wheatley, Citizens Advice Sheffield
- Lisa Foo, NYAS
- Lynn Brady, Action for Children
- Raakhee Varia, Leicester City Council
- Rosie Eatwell-White, Just for Kids Law
- Sara Gomes, Action for Children
- Sarah Louise Holmes, Citizens Advice Sheffield
- Shelly Eades-Jones, Barnardo’s
- Sophie Conway, Just for Kids Law