What is an Advocate?

An advocate is an independent person who provides support to children and young people who are looked after or care leavers, assisting them to express their views, wishes and feelings. They will listen to you and help you to understand your rights. They will enable you to explore your choices and options, help you to make informed decisions and make sure that your voice is heard.

An advocate can support you to participate in decisions and processes that involve you.


Issues that an advocate could support you with:

  • Your meetings and meetings about you
  • Transition from children’s services to adulthood
  • Leaving care
  • Problems with where you live
  • Problems with your family time arrangements
  • Help you make complaints


Who can have an Advocate?

If you are a child looked after or care leaver from Wirral, you can request an advocate up to the age of 24. You can have an advocate if you are placed out of borough or are in secure accommodation.

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) Joe Gormley answers your questions about what happens before, during and after a Safeguarding Conference.


Children Looked After Advocacy

We work with children and young people who are looked after and aged up to 25 years old around issues that you may be struggling with. 

This could be:
• Having your voice heard in your meetings such as CLA reviews
• Transition from children’s services in adulthood
• Leaving care
• Problems with where you are living
• Problems with contact arrangements
• Access to the complaints process


Child Protection Advocacy

We work with young people who are aged 8-18 years old who have a child protection plan in place to support their family.  We help young people to understand the child protection process and share young people’s views within this process to ensure that their voice is heard.

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) Joe Gormley answers your questions about what happens before, during and after a Safeguarding Conference.


Support with complaints

We help young people to make a complaint when they are not happy with a service that they have received from social care.

We help young people to understand the complaints process and support them to raise the issues they are not happy with.

Some of the things we have helped young people to complain about are:

  • Contact with family not happening as it should.
  • Transition to adulthood not progressing in appropriate time scales.

Coram Voice has produced an animation which explains Advocacy to children who are aged 11 and under;


Foster Care Reviews

Once a year foster carers have a review which looks at how things are going for them as foster carers.

If you are living with a foster carer you will be invited to have your say about the things you like or don’t like about where you live by filling in a questionnaire that is then looked at during the review.

Geri Brown from Barnardo’s supports young people to fill in their questionnaire.

Geri will arrange to meet with you at home at a time that is convenient for you.


Independent Visitors

An Independent Visitor is a volunteer (someone who does something and doesn’t get paid to do it) who will come and spend time with you every month. Usually when you meet your Independent Visitor you’ll arrange to do something fun. You can teach your Independent Visitor about all the things you like doing in your free time and they can introduce you to new activities to do and places to go.

An Independent Visitor is someone who you can get to know very well, and someone who will get to know you very well. Hopefully after you’ve spent lots of time together, they will become one of your good friends.

An Independent Visitor is someone who is a great listener; you can talk to them about anything.

They are someone there just for you and can often be in your life for a long time if this is what you want.

It can sometimes feel a bit scary getting to know someone new, but our Independent Visitors are all very friendly and they know that it may take some time for you to feel that you can trust them.


Meet the team

Jenny Law

Jenny law

I have been an Advocate for a long time (over 13 years!) and have worked at Barnardo’s for over 8 years.

I really enjoy my job helping children and young people to express their voices, say what is important to them and what their hopes and wishes are and make sure that they are listened to.

I like to think of different and creative ways of helping children and young people to express their thoughts such as through drawing, writing and games.

The part of my job that I find the most rewarding is helping young people to gain more confidence to take part in meetings that are about them and talk about their thoughts and feelings at the meeting. I also like to help young people understand more about their rights.


Emily Dunn
Independent Visitor Coordinator and Advocate

Emily Dunn

I have been the Independent Visitor Coordinator for 7 years now.

My job is to introduce young people to the right Independent Visitor (we call them IVs for short) for them. As each young person is very different, I spend time getting to know them to learn more about them, their personality, what they like to do in their free time, as well as the support they want from an IV. This is very important information as it means I can match young people to the right IV for them. We also need lots of different IVs who are ready and waiting to meet a young person who may want their support. I also help volunteers to become IVs by supporting them to learn about what’s important to young people about having an IV.

It’s always great to see a young person and their Independent Visitor really getting on, enjoying spending time with one another and becoming good friends.

I also work as an Advocate to help young people voice their wishes and feelings and make a complaint when things haven’t gone right. The best bit of this job is helping young people to feel their point of view matters and it is being listened to.


Contact the Barnardo’s WAIV service

Phone: 0151 650 5488 or e-mail: