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Barnado’s: Advocates needed

Barnardo’s is looking for volunteer Advocates to join our fantastic children’s services and help make a real difference.

Type: Admin Support, Emotional / social support, Information / advice

Location: All of Plymouth

Barnardo’s is committed to providing ‘Better Outcomes for More Children’. Our children’s services volunteers help the charity to deliver essential services in local communities, providing support to over 300,000 children, young people and their families.

Barnardo’s is looking for volunteer Advocates to join our fantastic children’s services and help make a real difference.

Barnardo’s Advocates empower children and young people experiencing the care system, to make sure that their rights are respected and their voices are heard at all times. Advocates represent the views, wishes and needs of young people, helping them to navigate the social care system at a very challenging and often scary time for the young person.

The Plymouth Advocacy Service is commissioned by Plymouth City Council to provide advocacy support for children and young people in care of the Local Authority from the age of 6 to 18 (up to 25 years, where appropriate) or when they are involved in child protection proceedings. Advocacy is about providing the opportunity to children to share their thoughts and feelings with an Advocate, so the Advocate may represent these views at meetings where decisions are being made about them by professionals.

The Role

We are looking for approachable and confident people, able to listen to young people, supporting them to share their views. You will need to be a great communicator and be able to encourage young people to engage with the process. We visit children in School to write down their views in preparation for their meeting. You will need to be able to take notes whilst talking to a young person and have a good level of IT skills (including Word and Outlook) in order to type up, save and send documents to your project worker. You, as volunteer Advocate, will then attend the meeting to read these views, either with the young person or on their behalf. Meetings are attended by family members, carers and professionals, and are mostly held virtually via Microsoft Teams.

Planning and recording of work will be supported by the team of Advocates who you will need to liaise with closely for each piece of advocacy undertaken. You will be assigned an Advocate to be your Supervisor. They will meet with you regularly for supervision.

Our Advocates offer an inclusive service including supporting unaccompanied asylum seekers, children and young people with disabilities and additional needs (including behaviour, communication and learning difficulties). We are looking for volunteers who are not only passionate about supporting young people, but also have the emotional resilience to do so through some tough circumstances. We offer regular supervision in group and one-to-one sessions, and you will be a valued member of our team.

A minimum commitment of 18 months is required in order to offer continuity of support, as the best results are seen when a Volunteer can commit to a reasonably long period in this role. You will also need to have sufficient (min 2 days) availability, Monday to Friday, within working hours.
The ability and willingness to travel within a reasonable distance for the service area of Plymouth is needed, as well as appropriate insurance whilst driving to School visits for your volunteering role.

Our role-specific training programme prepares you for this vital role and includes classroom-based learning and buddying live cases with experienced Advocates. As part of your training you will also attend other face-to-face and/or virtual training sessions.
On successful completion of all aspects of the training programme, this role will involve unsupervised contact with children and young people, so an enhanced criminal record check is required.

Barnardo’s is committed to having a diverse and inclusive workforce for staff and volunteers. We actively encourage applications from disabled, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and male candidates as they are under-represented within Barnardo’s.
Previous experience working with children and young people is important to this professional role.

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