Do I have the right to an advocate?
You most certainly do; but you need to know what they're for and how best to use them.
An advocate is someone who can help you know what your rights are and make sure that your wishes and feelings are being listened to. If you have a complaint to make the an advocate can help and support you through the entire process. They can also come to your LAC review meetings and other meetings with you, or go on your behalf. They are there to make sure that the other adults in your life listen to what you are saying
I don't need another worker in my life....
You might not; it might feel that there are lots of people in your life BUT an advocate does not work for Social Services - they work for an outside company and so they are independent of your social worker, foster carer and all other workers in Bristol City Council. More importantly, your advocate works for you. They don't make any judgements about what is good for you or bad for you, they simply stand up for what you want, whatever that may be.
So what are they good for?
An advocate is most useful for getting something stopped, started or changed - their work is quite often short term and they are problem solvers. They are also good if you are really shy because they are people who are trained to talk on your behalf when you don't feel able to. An advocate is very useful if you're making a complaint because they know how the system works and can guide you through . An advocate is also confidential; they won't talk to your social worker, foster carers or any other worker without your permission, unless you or another young person is in danger.
It is sometimes best to think of advocates as a megaphone; they make your voice louder but they don't change anything you say.
I think I need an advocate
Then you have clicked onto the right page. You can e-mail Ruskana or Laura who are the advocacy coordinators for Reconstruct in Bristol. They will get in touch with you to see if an advocate is what you need.
Phone them on: 0117 244 6560 or 0800 389 1571 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org