The Department for Education has today (26 March 2021) announced that they will renew funding for Coram Voice to continue to deliver Always Heard, the national advocacy helpline and safety net for care experienced children and young people in England. The contract extension will see Always Heard get the funding it needs to continue until March 2022.
Always Heard provides advocates for children in care, children on the edge of care and care leavers and guarantees. It is the only national advocacy service that guarantees children and young people who need an advocate, get an advocate, no child is ever turned away. Since we launched in 2017, Always Heard has provided advice, advocacy support, and information about accessing local advocacy services on over 28,000 occasions.
The news was announced by Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford, who said of Always Heard in a statement about children’s social care funding; “We have also extended the ‘Always Heard’ advocacy helpline, delivered by Coram Voice, ensuring that that no child in or leaving care goes without an advocate when they most need it”.
Our freephone advocacy helpline provides independent advice and supports children and young people to access advocacy services. Our ‘safety net’ advocates provide vital advocacy support to any child or young person unable to access advocacy through their local service. With many care experienced children and young people finding their pathways to advocacy blocked, Always Heard also work to change the systemic barriers to this vital support. We work with local authorities to make sure that they put in place the advocacy service their children and young people are entitled to. Always Heard also works with the Department for Education, Ofsted and the Children’s Commissioner to help improve the systems by sharing information about barriers to advocacy, making sure the voice and experience of young people are at the centre of the conversation.
Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice says; “We are delighted that the Department for Education have again extended the Always Heard contract.”
“This renewed commitment by the Department for Education to the Always Heard service means that Coram Voice will continue to be able to maintain our unique guarantee that every care experienced child and young person who needs an advocate, gets an advocate. We will continue to make sure that no child is turned away.
“We will also build on our work with local authorities, Ofsted and the Children’s Commissioner to permanently remove the barriers to advocacy that too many children and young people experience. It is vital that care experienced children and young people have their voices heard, particularly now as we start to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.”
In the last year alone, Always Heard has made 8,500 signposting or referrals to local advocacy services and supported over 700 children and young people with safety net advocacy. Our advocates helped children and young people facing issues like homelessness, problems with finances, difficulties accessing education, or needing support to speak up in care planning meetings.
As a result of Always Heard’s work, children and young people have told us that feel more confident, safer, motivated, and better able to form positive relationships. We have also seen several local authorities moving to improve their offer to children and young people in care by putting additional resources into their advocacy services.