Children and young people get together to discuss a possible ‘Children’s Advocacy House’ for the North West of England.
PROFESSOR Andrew Rowland, paediatric emergency medicine consultant from The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, was joined by young people, aged 11-14 years, and some key individuals yesterday (08 November 2016) to discuss the possibility of setting up a new Children’s Advocacy House for the North West of England.
The idea was first put forward by Professor Rowland in his Churchill Fellowship report (Living on a Railway Line – a major report to improve the safeguarding of vulnerable children in the UK and beyond), and thanks to support from a network of individuals and events, a group of over 50 children and young people, together with key individuals, were brought together yesterday at MediaCityUK to discuss whether an Advocacy House is something children and young people in Greater Manchester might want.
The highly successful event was attended by over 50 children and young people, the Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, the office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, Public Health England, Tony Lloyd (Interim Mayor of Manchester), Ann Coffey MP, Councillor Karen Garrido (Ceremonial Mayor of Salford), key individuals from the NHS and other invited guests. The entire focus of the day was on the young people with the adults attending to learn from the young people present.
During the day, the event, which was live-Tweeted using #CYPAdv, was trending in second place on Twitter with only the USA #Election2016 ahead in first place.
The day included remarks from Professor Rowland, the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, Councillor Karen Garrido, Ann Coffey MP and Tony Lloyd as well as the young people telling the adults present about the idea of an Advocacy House, what might happen there and how they might use it.
The question and answer session with the Interim Mayor of Manchester, Tony Lloyd, provided the opportunity for a two-way conversation for the children and young people to imagine and explain their thoughts about a potential advocacy centre.
Jake, a young person attending yesterday’s event, said it was important to, “forget the bad things and look forward to the good things.”
Harvey, a young person attending yesterday’s event, said it was important to, “have confidence in yourself.”
James, a young person attending yesterday’s event, said it was about, “catching bad dreams, keeping good ones and raising spirits.”
Neve, a young person attending yesterday’s event, summarised the aim of the Children’s Advocacy House as, “you speak, we listen, everyone cares.”
Professor Andrew Rowland, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Honorary Professor at Salford University said:
“The unique work that the children and young people have produced will be the starting point for professionals in the region to consider ways in which they can improve engagement with young people facing adversity and difficulties. The principles of co-design and co-production of services with children and young people should be an over-arching concept within the North West region where we now have a unique opportunity to put these design principles at the very heart of the strategic values of organisations working with children, young people and families. I am excited to see how organisations within the North West, and beyond, respond to the fantastic ideas that the children and young people have come up with during this Children’s Advocacy Centre event, and how those organisations will now work with children and young people to hopefully lead to the creation of a brand new Advocacy House for them in our region.”
Dr Joan Livesley, Senior Lecturer in Multi Professional Postgraduate Studies at the University of Salford, said:
“This was a fantastic day with children and young people, identifying unmet need and getting some great ideas from them about how to resolve these problems.”
Dr Mary Ryan, Consultant and Director of Medicine at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool, said:
“The need for a Child Advocacy Centre in the North West has been something we have thought about for a while now. This need was confirmed and highlighted by the children we spoke to during this event. We owe it to them to listen, and work harder to make this dream a reality.”
The outputs of yesterday’s event will be written into a report to be released in mid-2017.
The event was funded by NHS England (North Region) and organised by Dr Joan Livesley, Senior Lecturer in Multi Professional Postgraduate Studies at the University of Salford, in conjunction with Professor Rowland and a group of professionals working with children, young people and families.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The concept of a Children’s Advocacy Centre in the United Kingdom (UK), and the North West of England specifically, was put forward by Professor Rowland in his Churchill Fellowship report (Living on a Railway Line – a major report to improve the safeguarding of vulnerable children in the UK and beyond).
A Children’s Advocacy Centre is a relatively new idea in the UK although well established in the United States of America (USA). In the USA Children’s Advocacy Centres often focus on the provision of a multi-disciplinary team approach to responding and preventing child abuse. They provide programmes and support services for child victims and their families enabling them to heal emotionally and physically. They often provide a single place where children can be interviewed, examined, have therapy etc.
The aim of the project in the UK is to seek support to establish a Children’s Advocacy Centre in the North West of England but one that is co-designed and co-produced by children and young people and provides services that extend outside of child abuse. The proposal would be to incorporate programmes and support services for children and families experiencing all types of different problems as well as providing education and awareness to prevent problems becoming established. The services would be provided by professionals and volunteers from a range of different disciplines depending on what consultation events highlight as being the key issues that would be served by a Children’s Advocacy Centre. Services would fall into 4 categories, aligned with the four public health stages of intervention: support to prevent problems happening; support to help problems in their early stages; support for problems that won’t go away; support for dealing with the after effect of major life events or trauma.
The purpose of the day was to find out what children and young people think of the idea of an Advocacy House for the North West of England. The term “Advocacy House” was used to differentiate the concept from the advocacy centres in the USA.
Aims of the day
- To seek the views of children and young people on the development of a Children’s Advocacy House in North West England
- To determine how children and young people could be involved in the design and evaluation of a Children’s Advocacy House if the concept is taken forwards.
- To explore children and young people’s understanding and meaning of the term advocacy
- To establish in what circumstances they may contact such a centre
- To establish what such a centre may look like, how it may be accessed and what should be provided to ensure that it is acceptable to children and young people.
- To establish the facilitators and barriers in children and young people accessing such and advocacy centre.
Professor Andrew Rowland, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, closed yesterday’s event by saying:
“That was an amazing day! We have all learned loads about the kind of region that children and young people want us to have. I’ve heard very clearly from you today that it is about inclusivity; mutual respect; diversity and valuing people as individuals. All of us who are here today as the adults learning from you, believe in the value that children and young people play in our society.
“I’m convinced that our best days are still ahead of us if we listen to children and young people and we reach for those days together, in partnership. We all have a role to play in building a stronger, fairer, more inclusive region for children and young people with healthy children and young people at the heart of that society.
“We deserve it to young people to work our hardest to make life better for you and your families. I know that some of you have told us about difficult things today and that has shown great courage. You have told us these things because you have trusted us. You have done that because you didn’t necessarily have to tell us your name.
“I want you all to remember that there are people you can talk to whatever it is that might be concerning you – these people include your teachers, doctors, nurses and other professionals, some of whom are here today. People will not judge you ; we won’t always get it right but everyone here will try our best for you.
“Now, what do we do about moving these ideas forwards? Today is, of course, just the start. What we now need is other organisations to take up these ideas and develop them into a reality.
“We will be producing a report of today and, together, we hope to encourage other organisations to respond positively to the outcomes of today and to move forward with the concept you have all devised for us today.
“By valuing the input of children and young people and by recognising that your opinions, thoughts and dreams are important, together we can make a brighter future for us all.
“Working with children and young people has never been as important as it is now, and this has to be our mission together:
“To give every child and young person every chance of happiness, every chance of good health and every chance of protection from harm.
“As I’ve been going around the groups today I’ve tried to prepare a summary of the discussions you have been having but I’ve realised that there is no need for me to do this. There is no need for me to try and summarise in just a few words all of the amazing work you have been doing today – that wouldn’t do justice to the effort you have all put in to today and it wouldn’t be able to adequately reflect the key things you’ve told us. We’ll save those ideas for the report and, instead, I’m going to leave you with some really striking messages that you have generated.”
“Forget the bad things and look forward to the good things.” Well said, Jake.
“Have confidence in yourself.” I couldn’t agree more, Harvey.
It is about “catching bad dreams, keeping good ones and raising spirits.” Absolutely, James.
“You speak, we listen, everyone cares.” What a great way to end today, Neve.
“Thank you all very much.”
 A Children’s Advocacy Centre