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Wirral Advocates and Independent Visitors (WAIV)

What does the WAIV team do?

We support children and young people in the following ways:

  • Advocacy for young people who are looked after.
  • Advocacy for young people who are on a child protection plan.
  • Independent Visitors for children looked after.
  • Foster carer reviews


What is an Advocate and how can they help me?

An Advocate is an independent person who supports you to express your views, wishes and feelings to people working with you such as a social worker.

An Advocate listens to you and helps you to understand your rights.

An Advocate enables you to explore your choices and options, and help’s you to make an informed decision.

An Advocate can support you to participate in decisions and processes that involve you, for example helping you with any meetings you may have.

Children Looked After Advocacy

We work with children and young people who are looked after and aged up to 25 years old around issues that you may be struggling with.

This could be:

  • Having your voice heard in your meetings such as CLA reviews
  • Transition from children’s services in adulthood
  • Leaving care
  • Problems with where you are living
  • Problems with contact arrangements
  • Access to the complaints process

Child Protection Advocacy

We work with young people who are aged 8-18 years old who have a child protection plan in place to support their family.  We help young people to understand the child protection process and share young people’s views within this process to ensure that their voice is heard.

Support with complaints

We help young people to make a complaint when they are not happy with a service that they have received from social care.

We help young people to understand the complaints process and support them to raise the issues they are not happy with.

Some of the things we have helped young people to complain about are:

  • Contact with family not happening as it should.
  • Transition to adulthood not progressing in appropriate time scales.

Coram Voice has produced an animation which explains Advocacy to children who are aged 11 and under.

What do young people say about having an Advocate?

‘My advocate has helped me get my point across to other people.  They are really helpful.’

‘The advocacy service is important because they listen to what you have to say and they make sure you feel ok.  They can help young people and speak about their feelings.  I know who to call if I’m upset.  My advocate is kind and helped me.’

‘The Barnardo’s advocacy service will support and listen to you.  They are nice and helpful.  I felt listened to.’

‘I feel more confident. I can speak for myself’

‘The advocate was kind, understanding and trust worthy and she helps with how you feel and if you need her to voice your opinion she does it very well.’

Foster Care Reviews

Once a year foster carers have a review which looks at how things are going for them as foster carers.

If you are living with a foster carer you will be invited to have your say about the things you like or don’t like about where you live by filling in a questionnaire that is then looked at during the review.

Geri Brown from Barnardo’s supports young people to fill in their questionnaire.

Geri will arrange to meet with you at home at a time that is convenient for you.

Independent Visitors

An Independent Visitor is a volunteer (someone who does something and doesn’t get paid to do it) who will come and spend time with you every month. Usually when you meet your Independent Visitor you’ll arrange to do something fun. You can teach your Independent Visitor about all the things you like doing in your free time and they can introduce you to new activities to do and places to go.

An Independent Visitor is someone who you can get to know very well, and someone who will get to know you very well. Hopefully after you’ve spent lots of time together, they will become one of your good friends.

An Independent Visitor is someone who is a great listener; you can talk to them about anything.

They are someone there just for you and can often be in your life for a long time if this is what you want.

It can sometimes feel a bit scary getting to know someone new, but our Independent Visitors are all very friendly and they know that it may take some time for you to feel that you can trust them.

What do young people say about having an Independent Visitor?

  • "My IV is a backup for someone to talk to"
  • Visits are a "break from things"
  • "My IV has similar interests as me, we're both very competitive!"
  • "I want to be like my IV when I'm older because of her confidence"

What do Independent Visitors say about the support they give to young people?

  • "We laugh a lot during our visits"
  • "I will always cherish the wonderful memories that myself and my young person created on our visits"
  • "He put all his trust in me and he pushed himself to achieve, which was brilliant"

Watch a video which was made by a young person and his IV - Joel and Steve.

Meet the team

Jenny Law

I have been an Advocate for over 11 years and have been at Barnardo’s for the past 6 years.

I really enjoy helping children and young people to have their say and be listened to. I enjoy doing lots of different direct work activities with young people such as drawing pictures of the things that are important to them.

The most rewarding part of my job is when young people develop the confidence to attend their meetings and speak about their feelings.

Nic O’Connor

I have been with Barnardo’s for nearly 3 years and I have been an Advocate for Barnardo’s for nearly a year now, it is the most rewarding and fulfilling role.

The best bit of my job is working alongside children to support them and help them voice their wishes and feelings and to watch them grow with confidence to eventually attend meetings and voice their wishes independently.

Emily Dunn
Independent Visitor Coordinator and Advocate

I have been the Independent Visitor Coordinator for 6 years now.

My job is to introduce young people to the right Independent Visitor for them.

My job has two parts to it. The first part is meeting young people who have asked for an Independent Visitor, so that I can learn a little bit about them, their personality, what they like to do in their free time and the support they would like from an Independent Visitor. This information is really important as it means I can match young people to the right Independent Visitor for them. 

The second part of my job is to train people to become Independent Visitors so that they are ready and waiting to meet a young person who may want their support.

It’s always great to see a young person and their Independent Visitor really getting on, enjoying spending time with one another and becoming good friends.

WAIV Service Contact Details

You can contact the Barnardo’s WAIV service by:

What is a Safeguarding Conference

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) Joe Gormley answers your questions about what happens before, during and after a Safeguarding Conference.