Advocacy and children’s rights

Giving young people a voice

Advocating for children is at the heart of everything we do here at Barnardo’s. Young people deserve to have someone on their side. We are here to listen and empower.    

Our children’s advocacy services are specifically dedicated to giving children and young people across the UK a voice.

What is child advocacy?

Young person with Barnardo's worker with paperwork

Child advocacy is all about speaking up for, or on behalf of, children and young people.  

An advocate helps them take part in decisions that affect their lives and can voice their opinions in environments they might find challenging, such as with adults they might not feel safe around. 

A large part of advocacy work is making sure the child or young person's rights are respected, and that their wishes are heard. Advocates are non-judgemental and focus solely on the opinions of the child or young person. 

It is a statutory right for all looked after or care experienced children to have an independent advocate.*

*You can read more about the 'Care Act of 2014' legislation here.

How do advocates represent children and young people? 

The role of an advocate will be different on a case-by-case basis, and their duties and responsibilities will be specific to the child or young person they are representing. 

Some of the things an advocate could do include: 

  • helping the child or young person understand their own rights, and helping to fight for these 

  • arguing for the wishes of the child or young person in situations where decisions are made, for example in meetings about living situations or about foster placements 

  • writing letters on their behalf 

  • sharing the child or young person’s wishes in environments they may not feel comfortable sharing in, for example in situations of parental disputes 

Find an advocacy service near you  

If you are looking for an advocacy service for someone in your care, you can find a service near you here

You can also find more advocacy services on the Coram’s website here. If you are a young person looking for more information about advocacy, you can also visit the National Youth Advocacy Service website here

How we support children through advocacy services 

We run specialist advocacy services across the UK.  

Our advocates are independent, meaning they don’t work for local councils, social services or the NHS. They don’t give their personal opinions and are simply there to explain the wishes of the young person, and to argue their case.  

We’re there for children and young people to make sure their rights are respected, and their views and wishes are heard at all times.

Victoria Dobie

Children’s service manager at Leeds Children’s Rights Service and Futures 

Support for young people 

For further information on how we support young people, and support services available to you, click below.

Voice and influence of young people

Nobody knows better than children and young people what their lives are really like. We're here to listen to them and help them get the support they need.

Support for parents and careers

Find out about the support, guidance and services we offer to parents, carers and families to ensure that every child grows up safe and loved.