Young people with special educational needs/disabilities (SEND) can sometimes feel ignored, or that their views are taken for granted.

At my AFK we work to help them develop the skills and confidence to speak up and advocate on their own behalf.

We employ a specialist Advocacy Development Manager to work with young people directly and to support them to self-advocate re. complex issues e.g. dealing with local authorities re: benefits etc. 

Co-production - we have a variety of ways of involving young people in what we do including a Youth Council which allows young people to express their views about the way we work.

What is Advocacy?

Advocacy can help you make changes and have more choice and control in your life.

It can support you to:

  • Tell others what you want
  • Find out information about services that can help you
  • Have a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities

What is an advocate?

An advocate will be on your side and tell others what you want when you feel unable to speak up for yourself.

Advocates can also help you write letters or speak to someone on the telephone.

What is self-advocacy?

Learning to speak up for yourself is an important skill which most people take for granted but sometimes it can be scary asking or telling other people what you want or need.

You might feel that no one listens to you.

Self-advocacy is about giving you confidence to speak up at home, at college, at work or anywhere where your opinion should matter.

Advocacy for young people

As young people develop and increasingly form their own views, they should be more involved in making decisions about their future.

The Children and Families Act 2014 says that from the age of 16, young people have the right to make requests and make decisions about their future, rather than to their parents.

AFK Youth Council member Lucy makes her speech.

How does Advocacy work at my AFK?

We want to make sure that everyone who comes to has the support they need to challenge anything they think is wrong.

We want people to:

  • Feel respected and listened to
  • Know that they have a choice about what they learn and how they learn

Trainees have joined our Student Council to share their views with our Senior Management Team and other young people at my AFK.

With the aim of helping increase their confidence to speak up for themselves and others, the council will also:

  • Attend a leadership course
  • Develop a media campaign
  • Work with other advocacy groups