Your Stories

Robert’s Story

Total Voice received a self-referral from Robert, who had suffered a stroke and asked for advocacy support in his Needs Assessment with Adult Social Care.

When the Advocate discussed the Robert’s circumstances, it became clear that the Robert was a very active man with a set of hobbies which he loved dearly. He used to travel all over the country to attend air shows and was a big fan of the local CB Radio network. With his Advocate Robert identified that “lifestyle choices” and “social isolation” were important needs for him to address in the meeting. The Advocate then supported Robert in the Assessment with a Social Worker.

Following a few conversations with the Social Worker, Robert was awarded a Personal Budget and was able to recruit and employ his own PA, who had similar interests. The feedback we had from Robert was that he was again able to enjoy life and his hobbies and was travelling lots attending air shows.

Roger’s Story

Roger (who has an acquired brain injury) had an Adult Social Care (ASC) assessment in which the social worker told him he was eligible for a personal budget and supported him through the process of applying. Roger then heard nothing further in 9 months despite constant chasing of the social worker. He was put in contact with Total Voice through Headway, the brain injury charity.

The advocate went through options and possible consequences with them so that Roger could make an informed choice. Roger directed the advocate to:

  • support him to change his social worker
  • begin the complaint procedure against ASC for the promises made by the social worker which had been broken

With the advocate’s support the complaint was escalated all the way to the Ombudsman who over sees the work of ASC, who ruled that ASC were incorrect in their procedures and promises and recommended that they pay Roger the £5,000 they had promised him for his care and support through the personal budget.

Roger said that without the support of Total Voice he would not have achieved this outcome as with having an acquired brain injury he would not have had the knowledge, will power, strength or commitment to progress things to reach such a positive outcome.

Danielle’s Story 

Danielle was 15 when she had Jane.  At the time she was told she would be moving to a mother and baby foster placement, but Jane was born with a severe disability and the identified placement could not take a disabled baby with such high needs. For resource reasons Danielle was placed in one placement and Jane another.

An advocate started working with Danielle when she was 18, and Danielle raised the issue of only having supervised contact with Jane, even though she now had another child, Peter.  Danielle was not thought responsible enough to have unsupervised contact, but the advocate raised the point that there were no social care concerns about her parenting skills with her second baby.  It was agreed that Danielle could have increased contact, although this would still be supervised. Danielle asked for a stage one complaint regarding the reasons for this.

The local authority decided that Jane should be adopted despite protests from Danielle and the advocate. The case was then taken to the Chief Officer for Children and Young People in the local authority, who met with Danielle and listened to her story. He assigned a senior social worker to carry out an assessment of Danielle’s parenting skills which showed that she could easily care for Jane.

Barnardo’s involvement with Danielle lasted for over three years and Jane now lives with her mum and her partner full time. Jane should have lived with her mum from birth and it was only down to a resource issue that this didn’t happen, but everyone forgot the real reason and assumed it was because she was not a good enough parent.

Danielle says without her advocate supporting her and helping her cope with the numerous meetings, that she would not now be living with both of her children as a family.

Barney’s Story

Barney was 16 when he was referred to Barnardo’s Advocacy Service before leaving a secure residential setting. He had been in the care system since the age of five and was on a full care order.

Barney felt he wasn’t properly prepared for leaving. He said that he’d been told he would be returning to his previous placement where he felt he was not allowed to leave the house or go anywhere without staff going with him and that he was not allowed friends. He was anxious that he would again have this this level of supervision when he was released – he felt he had more freedom where he was. He felt his right to a private life had been taken away from him and felt that no one was listening to him

Barney requested that his Barnardo’s advocate should work with him before and after the move. The advocate provided Barney with the option of legal representation to challenge the local authority on the intensive restrictions and the area in which they were placing him, and a solicitor did go on to represent him.

Barney’s issue was resolved to his satisfaction and he lives in a town of his choosing, with the restrictions lifted. He stated that he finally felt listened and he wrote to say  “thank you for your unbelievable help and support – if it wasn’t for you I’d still be in the same place just running on the spot with no-one listening to me. I hope you carry on helping young people and make them as happy as you have made me and help them start sorting their lives out and turn a corner.”

Susan’s Story 

Susan asked for advocacy support when she was pregnant because she felt that the pre-birth assessment that she was undergoing was critical and damning of her and the process stressful.  Her advocate contacted the social worker and asked why the pre-birth assessment had been thought necessary and whether they could share these reasons with Susan. The social worker suggested that the assessment was necessary because Susan was a care leaver, and not for any particular concern. The advocate supported Susan to complain about the assessment, but was again told that the assessment was ‘necessary’, for the same reason – Susan being a care leaver.

The advocate brought Susan’s case to the attention of the council’s relevant Chief Officer, where and the case was reviewed. This time it was decided that there was no need for a pre-birth assessment.

Susan is not the only care leaver who is faced with these assessments. As a result of our work with Susan and others in the same situation,  we are consulting young people about their experience of pre-birth assessments.  The findings will be presented to the council’s leadership in order to influence future practice. If you have any comments about this, or any other advocacy issue, please email or call us on 01522 706580.