Young advocates use their experiences to help others
Ten youngsters from Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly County Borough and Torfaen have become the first to complete a qualification that will see them become peer advocates.
The peer advocacy scheme supports children and young people to speak up about things they want stopped, started or changed.
The pilot scheme has been funded by a Children and Families Organisation Grant (CFOG) from the Welsh Government and has been delivered by the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) Cymru.
The new Peer Advocates in the Caerphilly County Borough Council Area included Chelsea Morgan, 17, from Caerphilly, Stacey Hibbert, 17, from Caerphilly, Chris Watkins, 19, from Blackwood and Zoe Evans, 19, from Aberbargoed.
The peer advocates may have experienced similar problems or used similar services and draw on their experiences to help other young people.
Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services said: “Children and young people time and time again tell us about the value that they place on advocacy support and how it can ‘change their lives’ for the better.
“It is therefore a real pleasure to celebrate the achievements of these young people who have trained as peer advocates. We know that children and young people at times feel more comfortable talking to someone the same age as them rather than adults.
“Children and young people should expect to be protected from harm, to have services like schools and things to do outside school, to be listened to when they are not happy, to have an opinion and be involved in decisions that affect them. It is our job to ensure that this happens.”
Caerphilly AM Jeff Cuthbert hosted the peer advocacy awards at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay last week and presented the ten with their qualification certificates.
He said: “I’m really pleased to have been able to host this event. These young people are in a unique position to be able to support their peers. Hearing the stories of the peer advocates were really inspirational. I’m very proud of all of them and I am sure they will go on to do great things in the future.”
Speaking ahead of the event, Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said: “Too often we hear negative stories about our young people so this event is a breath of fresh air – it provides us with a fantastic opportunity to celebrate young people’s achievements and wish them well in their new venture helping their peers across South Wales.”Follow @CaerphillyObsvr