Speaking at a Parliamentary Reception to mark the 30th anniversary of the UNCRC yesterday (2 March) the minister reaffirmed her support for the Always Heard service and thanked Coram Voice for providing this vital service.
Always Heard is the only national advocacy service that guarantees children and young people who need an Advocate, get an Advocate. Launched in 2017, Always Heard has supported over 16,000 care experienced children and young people. The contract extension will see Always Heard get the funding it needs to continue into 2021.
Always Heard provides advocates for children in care, children on the edge of care and care leavers. Our Freephone advocacy helpline provides independent advice and supports children and young people to access advocacy services. Our Safety Net Advocates provide vital advocacy support to any child or young person unable to access advocacy through their local service. Always Heard guarantees no child is turned away.
With many care experienced children and young people finding their pathways to advocacy blocked, Always Heard also work to change the systemic barriers to this vital support. We work with local authorities to make sure that they put in place the advocacy service their children and young people are entitled to. Always Heard also works with the Department for Education, Ofsted and the Children’s Commissioner to help improve the systems by sharing information about barriers to advocacy, making sure the voice and experience of young people are at the centre of the conversation.
In the last year alone, Always Heard has made 6,000 signposting or referrals to local advocacy services and supported over 600 children and young people with Safety Net Advocacy. Our advocates helped children and young people facing issues like homelessness, problems with finances, difficulties accessing education, or needing support to speak up in care planning meetings.
As a result of Always Heard’s work, children and young people have told us that feel more confident, safer, motivated, and better able to form positive relationships. We have also seen several local authorities moving to improve their offer to children and young people in care by putting additional resources into their advocacy services.
Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice says; “We are delighted by the news that the Department for Education are set to extend the Always Heard contract.
This exciting news means that Coram Voice will continue to be able to provide our unique guarantee that every care experienced child and young person who needs an Advocate, gets an Advocate. We will continue to make sure that no child is turned away.
We will also build on our work with local authorities and decision makers to remove the barriers to advocacy, making sure that care experienced children and young people always have their voices heard.”