Advocacy Work

What is Advocacy Work?

Advocacy work is the name that Early Break has given to the one to one work we do with young people to provide support and interventions to address substance use and related issues.

Every young person that is referred to the service is allocated an advocacy worker who will initially arrange to meet with the young person in their home, school or wherever the young person feels safe and comfortable.

The role of an advocacy worker is to:

  • Offer one to one support to those using drugs and/or alcohol
  • Carry out specialist drug and alcohol assessments to identify, plan and coordinate interventions to reduce/abstain from substance misuse and risks identified
  • Provide education and raise awareness around substance misuse issues and the link with  wider factors such as offending, emotional health and well-being, family/friends and much more
  • Deliver harm reduction interventions and strategies
  • Offer and support young people to access treatment interventions delivered by Early Break such as the Service Doctor, Family Centred Time, Alternatives Treatments and Holding Families
  • Offer both long and short term support and specialist interventions for young people to address substance related issues

Every advocacy worker will work with the young person to gain a greater understanding of the needs and identify the support the young person may require. This is usually done through the assessment process where the worker will complete paperwork with the young person.

The worker and young person will jointly look at targets and goals the young person wants to achieve. This process is known as care planning and will normally cover a whole range of areas such as substance use, health, family, education or employment etc. The care plan sets out exactly what it is that the young person wants to do and how the Advocacy Worker is going to support them.

The advocacy worker offers a multi-agency approach that includes working holistically with a range of agencies such as Health, Childcare Services, Schools and Family Services and many more to ensure the needs of young people are being addressed.

Some of advocacy workers have spoken about how they work with young people:

“Within my advocacy role I give young people a safe environment to discuss their wants, wishes and feelings in regards to their substance misuse and other issues that they may be experiencing. I offer one to one sessions weekly that are flexible to them. I deliver drugs education and harm reduction advice including specific safety messages dependent on need. Additionally I make onward referrals to appropriate agencies and maintain their safety and confidence to the best of my professional ability.”

“In my Advocacy role I see young people on a one to one basis.  I see them at various locations including Schools, Early Break office and their home.  I meet them wherever is suitable and where they feel most comfortable.  I complete assessments to identify what young person’s substance use but also work holistically to look at wider issues like mental health, the law, school/training, family, sexual heath etc.  I include the young person in the care planning process so they have a voice around what support they require and what they want to do to reduce the risk around substances. I often support young people and their families to access Family Centred Time, receive therapies such as acupuncture, visit the Service Doctor, and supporting them with appointments.”

Advocacy workers are also linked into services where young people are most likely to require support around substance use. More information about the link workers are detailed below:

Youth Offending Team Link:

The Youth Offending Team (YOT) is a multi-agency team that aims to tackle offending behaviour. The team engages with young people who are at risk of offending and also young people who have offended.   The advocacy worker within the team offers drug and alcohol treatment interventions to young people who are vulnerable to and at risk of offending behaviour. Additional responsibilities for the YOT link worker role include; being a point of contact within the Youth Offending Team and offer specialist advice around substance misuse related issues to professionals working with offending behaviour; keep the Youth Offending Team up to date with emerging trends in relation to substance misuse and ensure the health needs of young people involved in offending are being met by liaising with the YOT nurse.

Child Sexual Exploitation Teams (CSE):

CSE Teams help children to break free of exploitative relationships, and ensure offenders are brought to justice. The team has a number of professionals that work very closely together to deliver support to young people, these include Social Workers, Police, Nurses, PACE workers etc. As part of our multi agency working we have a link workers co located within CSE teams, these include the Engage Team (East Lancashire), Sunrise Team (Rochdale) and the Phoenix Team (Bury). Each of the teams deals with Child Sexual Exploitation referrals across the geographical area; they are either based in Police Stations or with Childcare Services.  The roles and responsibilities of CSE link workers include:

  • Attend daily briefings and team meeting to update the multi-agency team of the work being undertaken with young people and also to gather information that will support the delivery of substance misuse interventions to young people
  • Update the CSE team of new and emerging drug trends and patterns of use by young people
  • Undertaking screenings and specialist substance misuse assessments and refer young people to Early Break where appropriate
  • Delivery of group work to young people affected by substance misuse and CSE
  • Support the team with promoting and training of CSE issues in the geographical areas and contribute to safeguarding training for the wider workforce
  • Delivery of outreach work jointly with CSE teams to target areas where young people have been known to be at risk of CSE

Transition Link Workers:

The transition worker role involves working with young people around the age of 21 (Rochdale) who require ongoing treatment interventions around their substance use. Part of the responsibility involves a seamless continuation of care to Adult Substance Misuse Services; usually planned with the young person six months prior to the transition taking place. The transitions link workers keep close contact with adult services to ensure that young people that would be better suited to have their needs met in a young person provision are identified and worked with.  The transitions workers provide a flexible approach and a tailored package of support; including liaison with a range of adult services such as Probation, Housing, Colleges and Universities etc to meet the needs of this age group.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team Link Workers (CAMHS/ELCAS):

Children and young people and their families can be referred to CAMHS if children are finding it hard to cope with family life, school or the wider world. The types of problems CAMHS can help with include violent or angry behaviour, depression, eating difficulties, obsessions or compulsions, self-harming and the effects of abuse or traumatic events. CAMHS can also diagnose and treat serious mental health problems such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The CAMHS/ELCAS Link Workers ensure a holistic dual diagnosis approach is considered in the assessment process around emotional wellbeing. Some of the wider responsibilities of the link workers include:

  • To highlight the links between substance misuse and emotional well-being (and vice versa) to young people, parents/ carers and professionals
  • Offer consultation to CAMHS/ELCAS staff with regards to substance misuse
  • Attendance at team meetings to update CAMHS staff on emerging trends and cultures around substance misuse so these can be considered in mental health assessments further promoting the importance of Dual Diagnosis in young people’s services
  • Undertake joint working as and when needed to manage risks and related harms when Dual Diagnosis is present for young people
  • Deliver training/presentations to CAMHS/ELCAS staff, as and when required, to train them on issues such as drug trends, signs and symptoms, drug awareness, co-morbidities etc
  • Feed information back to Early Break workers around new research, procedures and policies affecting our work and facilitating effective information sharing between services