Staff blog: Beth, AdvocatePosted on 30th August 2018 by Seb Feast
Beth Morgan, Advocate, talks about her role at Impetus.
“It can be a very overwhelming and confusing time, so some people need additional support to be able to fully participate.”
I am an Independent Advocate in the Interact service here at Impetus. I mainly work with parents with learning disabilities who are going through Child Protection Proceedings — this is where Social Services have concerns about the client’s ability to parent their child and are therefore carrying out a risk assessment. It can be a very overwhelming and confusing time, so some people need additional support to be able to fully participate. That’s where Interact comes in.
To support clients I meet with them one-to-one, usually at home or in cafes across Brighton and wider Sussex. A typical session might involve checking the client’s understanding of information that they have been given, for example by reading through reports with them. We also spend time on things like working through decisions they may need to make, including exploring the likely outcomes of those decisions.
Something that is perhaps a less obvious aspect of Advocacy is helping clients to process their own thoughts and feelings. Being able to give an opinion offhand doesn’t come easily to everyone. So that clients can present themselves in a coherent way when questioned by professionals, opinions often need to have been prepared beforehand.
“…some of my clients have never had to use a diary before, so they are often going through a steep learning curve.”
I also attend meetings or appointments alongside clients. The client speaks for themselves, but I am there to prompt them if needed as well as to ask questions or make requests that they may not think of. Once someone is involved with Child Protection Proceedings they will be very busy with new commitments as they engage with a children’s social worker, an adult social worker, parenting classes, psychological assessments, legal meetings, court, and so on — part of my role is to support my clients to stay on top of all of this. For example, some of my clients have never had to use a diary before, so they are often going through a steep learning curve.
I am passionate about equality and social justice, and for my clients to have the same chance at successfully navigating the system as anyone else. Most of the parents I work with wish to be able to look after their child at home and live as a family. Understanding the Local Authority’s concerns and what can be done to minimise them is their best shot at achieving this, and is therefore the overarching focus of the work I do. However, this outcome is sadly not always possible, so I celebrate all the small victories where, through Advocates and self-advocacy, the system flexes to adapt to someone’s individual needs as a person with a learning disability.
To find out more about Interact, click here.