Parents advocacy - Recommendations

What the parent told us:
“Having an advocate helped me out so much. After I’d had my baby and social services took her to foster care I didn’t know what was happening. I was so upset. They said she wasn’t safe with me but I thought she was. When I met my advocate she explained everything to me in words I could understand. She didn’t use big words like everyone else. She was on my side. She came to see me in my flat, and she was always there when the social worker came to see me. It was so much better having my advocate there. It made me calmer so I didn’t feel so much like kicking off at the social worker.
My advocate helped me find a solicitor and went with me to meetings. The solicitor was nice, but I didn’t always understand her. She used fancy words I don’t get. My advocate explained things to me so I got them. My advocate came with me when I had to see the doctor for assessment.

When I went to live in England for a while with the baby for an assessment I was scared because I didn’t know anyone. My advocate phoned me most days and came to see me a few times, especially when there were important meetings. My advocate helped me to think what I wanted to say at the meetings. When I got upset in the meeting, my advocate said what I wanted to say. I was glad she was there.
Things didn’t go so well at the unit and the report said the baby couldn’t live with me. The report was really long and confusing so my advocate did me my own copy of it with simpler words and pictures so I could read it. After that my solicitor said I probably wouldn’t get my baby back and I should think if anyone else in my family could look after her. My brother lives in England but I thought he could look after her. In the end the judge said the baby could live with my brother.
After everything was done my advocate went to work with other people. I am glad I had an advocate.”
What the Social worker told us:
“Having an advocate around to help the mum helped me too. It was good to know that mum had someone helping her, as obviously my role was for the child. Mum seemed to be calmer when the advocate was around and it definitely seemed to help her understand things. It also made things easier for me, because there was always someone else there when I made home visits. Unfortunately things didn’t go the way mum wanted them to and the assessment report was negative. It was good that there was someone mum trusted to tell her what this meant, and to make sure she understood. I think it was especially good when the advocate was with mum at more formal meetings, as her voice was really heard. I would definitely like to work with an advocate again.”
What the Solicitor told us:
“My client really benefited from having the use of an advocate. The advocate could visit far more often than I could so I know that my client felt better supported. I found that with the advocate, my client attended meetings regularly. It also made getting instructions easier as the advocate had clearly helped my client to think about what she wanted to say prior to our meetings. It also helped that there was somebody else who could help to explain documents to my client; someone who had more time. I have little experience of learning disabilities, so it was helpful to have someone with experience who could translate documents to easy read for my client. It really made a difference and I think truly included my client in the process. At court it was great having the advocate present. As usual, I had to leave the room quite often to be in consultation with the other legal representatives so it was good to know that my client had support in court, with time to understand her options. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with an advocate again.”