Speak Up is the name of York's Children's Rights and Advocacy Service. The role of Speak Up is to promote children’s rights and entitlements, provide advocacy for children and young people who can access this support, and to facilitate participation opportunities for children and young people.
Although Speak Up is a City of York Council service, the team is independent from Children’s Social Care. We're within the Early Help and Local Area Teams structure to ensure that it can function independently from Children’s Social Care, in line with good practice guidance.
Speak Up provides advocacy to:
- children and young people in care and leaving care up to the age of 25
- children and young people on a Child Protection Plan
- young parents (under the age of 18) who have a child who is on a Child Protection Plan
- any child or young person (under the age of 18) wanting to make a complaint about a City of York Council service.
The advocates at Speak Up support children and young people to express their voice and views, and can also support young people to be more involved in decision making and care planning. Advocates are completely led by the child or young person, and will only support them if this is what they would like. Advocates don’t make decisions, and instead are there to solely support the young person raise their views.
An advocate can help children and young people to:
- express their views and opinions
- work out what they would like to say and how to say it
- speak up for themselves, or the advocate can do this where this is what the young person would prefer
- understand complex information and plans
- prepare for meetings such as reviews or Child Protection meetings
- understand information about their rights and entitlements
- make a complaint if they are unhappy with a service or the way they have been treated
An advocate can’t:
- decide things for the child or young person
- tell them what to do or give their personal opinion
- take other people’s sides, they're always on the child’s side
Speak Up provides specialist issue-based advocacy; this kind of advocacy aims to address a specific issue and only exists for the time it takes to resolve that issue.
Speak Up also provides non-instructed advocacy; this type of advocacy should only be undertaken when a child is unable to express their views due to having no recognized communication system or no capacity or understanding of their situation. Non-instructed advocacy should be a last resort when all other communication techniques have been explored. Non-instructed advocacy is rights-based, child-centred and usually involves observations of the child in multiple environments.
Advocacy fully respects the confidentiality of a child or young person. The only exception to this is if an advocate becomes aware of any safeguarding concerns. They would raise this with relevant professionals or agencies.
Contact us if you would like an advocate, or are supporting a young person who would like an advocate.
Speak Up also provides participation opportunities for children and young people in care and care leavers.
Speak Up facilitates the Children in Care Council, which is called Show Me That I Matter and York Care Leaver’s Forum, which is called I Still Matter.
Show Me That I Matter is a group for children in care aged 11-17, and provides an opportunity for young people to meet and discuss important issues in a fun and creative way.
I Still Matter is a group for care leavers aged 17-25 that aims to offer practical solutions and an opportunity to discuss the variety of issues that affect all care leavers.
York Children's Right and Advocacy Service