Agenda item

Change, Grow, Live - Advocacy Service

Presentation by Alison Smith, Service Manager - Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire Children's Rights Services, Change Grow Live.



Alison Smith, Service Manager for the Advocacy Service at Change, Grow, Live, delivered the presentation, highlighting the following points:


a)  Change, Grow, Live (CGL) took over the contract for the Advocacy Service for children in care, including residential homes and foster placements, in October 2022. CGL provides two levels of service: residential-visiting advocacy, involving face-to-face or virtual visits to children in residential care by advocates, and issue-based advocacy, through which children raise issues with their advocate and agree a strategy to resolve those issues;


b)  From October 2022 to September 2023, there were 94 direct issue-based referrals, the vast majority being raised by young people themselves. Social workers made the second most amount of referrals, though lower than expected due to changes in social work teams. After a spike in November 2022 (due to the transition with CGL taking over the service), issue-based referrals have ranged between three and eleven per month;


c)  The largest number of referrals came from the 15-17 age cohort, following the trend of looked after children. There has been an increase in younger children going into residential care, which is reflected in increases among 5-10 year olds. The number of referrals for care leavers is relatively low, and most are around transition;


d)  Referrals have been received for a range of issues. The largest number are for children seeking representation at Looked After Child (LAC) reviews, and then Wishes and Feelings assessments, and support with education issues;


e)  Requests for support with placement changes are fairly frequent, and a lot of those are due to young people being placed outside of Nottinghamshire. Around 40% of the young people placed in residential care at the moment are outside of Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire;


f)  The service has also been commissioned to advocate for young people presenting as homeless. This was initially a six-month pilot, but has been extended for the year, and advocates have represented 17 young people in Joint Housing Assessments to date.



In the discussion which followed, and in response to questions from the Committee, the following points were made:


g)  There are discussions ongoing with Heads of Service for how to promote the advocacy service further, especially among social work teams due to recent changes. All the children’s residential homes have information displayed about the service, including photographs of the advocates allocated to those homes;


h)  There are concerns that children in foster placements may not be as aware of the service, though informational leaflets should be included in the packs social workers give to children when they go into care;


i)  Advocates have moved over to CGL when the contract was taken over, so young people may have had the same advocate for the last five years. When young people have been in care for a long period of time, their advocate can move with them when they move home, especially if they have a good relationship. This allows a positive and lasting relationship to be built;


j)  Advocates will attend any meeting that the young person requests, which can include legal meetings, Education, Health and Care Plan meetings, LAC reviews, Secure Accommodation reviews, and a range of others depending on the young person’s needs.


Supporting documents: