DT welcomed Gareth Jacobs and LP from NYAS and introduced the Panel Members. Panel members were all issued with a copy of the NYAS Information Pack - (Master Copy available for viewing from Cabinet Office).
Gareth Jacobs indicated that the focal point of the presentation would be a Service Outline with the opportunity for the Panel to ask any questions they may have. Some of the key issues referred to within Gareth Jacob’s presentation are as follows;
Ø NYAS was established in 1979 by a group of Social Workers in Liverpool with the key aim of listening to children and young people who feel that their voices are not being heard.
Ø It is a statutory duty for every Local Authority to provide advocacy services and that Advocacy was about empowering young people.
Ø For those who approach NYAS who may not be eligible for their services they still work with the applicant in order to signpost them to the relevant person/agency who can help.
Ø Gareth presented some results from a recent qualitative study that NYAS have carried out with LAC which yielded very interesting data.
DT queried whether we have similar study information that can be reported, like the data presented by NYAS.
GJ confirmed that we are able to report on some features. The LA has a rolling programme of consultation concerned with broad themes but there has historically been a poor response rate. This could be the result of the method of sourcing the information. It was also recognised that there can be a problem engaging children in work when the Local Authority is leading it - NYAS are an independent organisation and young people are often more willing to discuss their thoughts and feelings with an independent person.
JS indicated that the PEP’s also provide an insight into some of the areas.
Discussion among the Panel regarding how the LA could source information on very basic questions to LAC, for example ‘Are you hungry’ (as some of the responses on the NYAS study worryingly indicated that some children reported feeling hungry as their personal experience of being looked after.) It was suggested that there is the potential that the Council could commission NYAS for specific consultation to capture information – NYAS confirmed that they would be very willing to work with the Authority to capture such data if requested.
JS also suggested that School Councils could be used as a mechanism to try and encourage engagement of young people in such studies.
GJ confirmed that he was pleased that the Council have now reached the position in which the contract has been awarded to NYAS and highlighted the role that each Panel member plays in ensuring universal access to these services, including in their role as local Councillors.
DT highlighted that as a result of the work of the Panel and all involved the Vale of Glamorgan Council now has a sound awareness of the issues that affect Looked After Children, and the work is supported across the Council, and by all Councillors.
GJ enquired if NYAS are in a position for the Local Authority to have some of their leaflets which have been published for different age groups on their service. NYAS confirmed that the packs are currently being prepared with the intention that they will be hand delivered for Social Workers to then have an input in disseminating them to LAC.
Gareth Jacobs provided the Panel with some case study examples of Advocacy work that NYAS have been involved in. He explained that in some cases children may ask for something that they are unable to have, e.g. something that may be harmful to them, or may make unreasonable requests. In these cases NYAS can then assist by acting as independent advisors to the young people.
Gareth Jacobs stressed that Article 10 of the UN Convention states that all young people have the right to be heard but this cannot mean that they can always get what they want.
Gareth Jacobs introduced Lesa Pate whose role is that of a visiting advocate. LP outlined that she had her first visit to Wentworth Place on 19 July 2011 during which she met with LAC’s there and was able to explain her role and the services available. She outlined that as a result of this meeting she has been invited to WH’s Young Person’s Team Meeting which she plans to attend.
She outlined that he role is to extract information from children in residential homes, regarding their experiences, happiness, care etc.. and to relay this information back to the Local Authority.
DT thanked NYAS for their presentation and their attendance and intimated that she hoped they would return to a future CPP Meeting to update the Panel.
NYAS left a copy of the Information Pack to go on the CPP file.
> CHV to file pack for information.