What is an advocate?
An advocate is an independent person who helps you speak up for yourself. They also give advice, make you aware of your rights, listen to you and represent your views, wishes and feelings. An advocate will support you so that you can have your say about the care and services you receive.
You can get an advocate if you are a:
- child or young person in care
- care leaver
- child or young person who has a disability and receives help from a social worker
- child or young person aged 12 or over involved in a child protection conference
- child or young person aged 7 or over involved in your first Child Looked After review
- child or young person wishing to make a complaint about West Sussex Children’s Services.
What can an advocate help with?
An advocate can help you when:
- you’re too scared to speak up in your review meeting because there are adults there talking language you don’t understand
- you’re angry that a decision has been made and you don’t agree with it
- you want to move from your current placement, carer or supported lodgings
- you don’t want to move again
- you’re confused about what is going to happen in your child protection conference
- you really want others to understand how you feel about something
- you want to complain about something.
An advocate will help you speak up for yourself, to get things stopped, started or changed. They will listen to you and put across your views.
What happens when you meet your advocate?
- The advocate will listen to you and find out if you have a problem or worry.
- The advocate will then help you understand what your choices are and what people are saying.
- The advocate will ask you what help you want.
- You can ask the advocate to speak to people on your behalf or come with you to meetings.
- The advocate will help you to sort out your problem or worry the way you want and make sure people are listening to you.
Child Protection Conference (CPC)
A Child Protection Conference is a meeting to think about your family. All the people at the meeting will think about what is going well and what they are worried about. Then they decide if there should be a plan, which involves everyone, to make sure you will be safe and well.
What you think about your family situation matters a lot.
An advocate can support you through the CPC and even attend on your behalf if you don’t want to go.
They can explain the process to you and suggest options to help you, such as:
- meeting or speaking to the chair before the meeting
- putting your views into words or pictures
- make a video to express your views or use the app MOMO.
Your advocate can meet with you after the conference and attend future conferences with you.
How to request advocacy
If you would like to request help from an advocate you can complete the online form. Please note: We cannot guarantee availability of advocates to attend meetings where less than five working days notice has been provided. Please give as much notice as possible.
Since COVID-19, our team have worked virtually (phone calls, video calls, texts and voice notes), as many young people have preferred this. However, please ask if a face to face meeting is needed.Advocacy request form (external link)
If you would like to find out more about what we do, you can contact the team.
Find out more
- What is an advocate? (with symbols) (PDF, 250KB)
- What is an advocate? (with symbols - short version) (PDF, 166KB)
Having an advocate helped me get my voice heard better - A female aged 15
I felt like I wasn’t alone by having an advocate. An advocate will fight for you, give you a voice and will stand up for you - A male aged 21