What We Do

Shout Out! Advocacy at OTR

An Advocate is someone who can support you and listen to you if your wishes and feelings are not being heard or if you don’t feel involved in decisions made about you. We can support you to make sure people listen to you and involve you in decisions about you. We can also help you understand your rights.

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An Advocate is someone who:

  • Listens to you
  • Is independent from other services and just works for you and other young people
  • Helps you get information and think about choices
  • Helps you understand your rights
  • Keeps information confidential unless they are worried about something
  • Supports you to go to meetings
  • Helps you tell people what you want and make sure they listen
  • Supports you to make a complaint

Things we can support you with

If you are in care or a care leaver we can support you if you don’t feel listened to or if things are changing for you – like moving school or moving placement. We can also support you to get ready for and attend you review meetings. We can support you to go to your review or we can go for you if you want us to. We can also help you if you have an issue that you are unhappy with.

If you are going to a Child Protection Conference you might want an Advocate to support you. We can meet you to talk about what is going to happen and help you understand the meeting. We can support you to have your views heard at the meeting and can either support you to attend or we can go for you.

If you are a young person with a disability we can support you to make a transition. This could be from school to college, from Children’s Services to Adult Services or from college to work.

If you are a young person with an EHC Plan Review Meeting then we can support you. We can help you prepare for adulthood by looking at how to get into work, further education and other activities. We can also support you around independent living and help make sure you have everything you need in your plan.

If you are aged 16 or 17 and are homeless or want to understand your housing options you might want an Advocate. We can support you to understand your options and your rights and can also support you to attend meetings. We can also talk to you about Section 20 and whether this is the right option for you.

If you would like to make a Complaint against Children’s Social Care then you are entitled to an Advocate. We can support you to understand the complaints system, write your complaint, submit your complaint and attend meetings relating to your complaint.

Advocacy Video (opens in new window)

Advocacy Video

Contact

If you would like to speak to an Advocate you can contact the team here

In Care Council

OTR’s In Care Council works with children and young people who are in care in Bath and North East Somerset. They support these young people to guide the development and delivery of services to their peers. They meet regularly with professionals and decision makers to share their views and experiences.

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The aim of the groups is to help to make changes and a difference in looked-after children’s lives. The members speak to and work with decision makers, professionals and services and make sure they listen to young people.

Some of the things OTR’s In care council do are:

  • Have their say and make changes for young people in care.
  • Improve the services they use.
  • Inspire other young people to get their voices heard.
  • Take part in trips and fun activities.
  • Build their skills and confidence.
  • Meet other young people.
  • Consult other looked after children and young people and let them know their rights and entitlements.
  • Update and make sure BANES are meeting the pledge.

The In Care Councils have been involved in a variety of projects, from interviewing professionals for their jobs, delivering workshops to other young people e.g. the qualities they look for in a Social Worker, going on team building and consultation trips such as to Mill on the Brue, reviewing B&NES ‘Pledge to looked after children and young people’ and taking part in flashmobs to local Government calling for their voices to be heard. Making a podcast and producing a Film to support professionals to understand how it feels for them to be in care.

OTR’s Senior (13-19 yr olds) In Care Council meet regularly as a group once every two weeks and our Junior (7- 13 yr olds) In Care Council meet 4 times a year for fun activities and consultation. If you are in care and would like to get involved in OTR’s In Care Council please contact us here

Listening Services (Community)

The Listening Support Service provides confidential and independent information and support. You can make an appointment to see an Off the Record worker for a 20-minute one-to-one session and use it to discuss anything you like. Young people tell us they appreciate the ease of access, confidentiality, and ability to talk about whatever they want to express without being judged.

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Sometimes having someone to talk to in safe space that is free, independent and confidential can make all the difference.

Counselling

Also available through Listening Services, is Counselling. You’ll meet with a qualified counsellor and have a chance to explore issues in depth and to make connections between past and present experiences in a way that can empower and improve your current and future choices. It can include looking at strategies but is not about giving advice.

How to get Listening Support/ Counselling

You can contact us through the website, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can to set up a time to meet or speak. Or if you’d rather call, text or email you can see our details here.

Call: 01225 312481 Text: 07753 891 745

We run sessions throughout the week in the following places:

Bath

OTR, Open House (next door to Manvers Street Baptist Church and above the Café) Manvers Street Bath BA1 1JW Monday – Thursday 3 – 7pm

Midsomer Norton

Midsomer Norton Town Hall The Island Midsomer Norton BA3 2HQ Tues & Weds 3 – 7pm

Keynsham

1 The Park Keynsham, BS31 2BL Monday 3 – 7pm

On the phone – if you can’t travel to one of these places, we can arrange an appointment on the phone through our free phone service. Please just let us know when you contact us.

 Listening Services (Schools)

OTR works with and in schools across Bath and North East Somerset, as well as Bath College. Providing safe places to talk and get help when you need it.

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Listening Support

The Listening Support Service provides confidential and independent information and support. You can make an appointment to see an Off the Record worker for a 20-minute one-to-one session and use it to discuss anything you like. Young people tell us they appreciate the ease of access, confidentiality, and ability to talk about whatever they want to express without being judged.

Counselling

Also available through Listening Services, is Counselling. You’ll meet with a qualified counsellor andhave a chance to explore issues in depth and to make connections between past and presentexperiences in a way that can empower and improve your current and future choices. It can include looking at strategies but is not about giving advice.

Wellbeing Workshops

Some of the schools we work with ask OTR to provide workshops for young people, parents and staff. These can explore issues from anxiety, communication through to exam stress, and provide opportunities and toolkits to better understand and manage challenging situations.

How to get Listening Support/ Counselling in your School

Each school or College has a slightly different system to sign up. Please speak to someone at the school to find out more.

We work with the following Schools and Colleges:

LGBT+ & SPACE

If you are aged between 13-21 years and identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Asexual, and/or questioning your sexuality and/or gender identity, then OTR offers weekly LGBT+ youth group sessions called SPACE.

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Youth Forum

The Youth Forum is an open group for any young person aged 11-18 years who is interested in campaigning and providing consultation services to the local council and other decision makers in Bath and North East Somerset.

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The Youth Forum works with an elected Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) and Deputy Member of Youth Parliament (DMYP) to create positive change for young people through projects and campaigns.

Campaigns are chosen and informed by the results of a national youth ballot (Make Your Mark) and the group members’ various passions. Past campaigns have focused on reducing stigma surrounding mental health and raising awareness of gender equality. The group’s current campaign is to reduce the price of bus tickets for young people.

How can I join OTR’s Youth Forum?

Youth Parliament

The UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) provides a unique platform that enables elected young people to use their energy and passion for social change. The UKYP is listened to by local and national government, service provides for young people and other agencies who have an interest in acting on the views of young people.

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The UKYP has approximately 300 Members of Youth Parliament (MYP) across the UK, all aged 11-18 years. Elections take place in Bath and North East Somerset (BaNES) every 2 years, and all young people aged 11-18 years living or at school in BaNES are able to stand for election. Once elected, MYP’s organise local events and projects, run campaigns and influence local decision makers on the issues that matter most to young people within BaNES.

The current MYP (Hannah Powell) and deputy MYP (Niall Bowen) were elected in February 2018. They are working on a period poverty campaign and a curriculum for life campaign, alongside helping the BaNES Youth Forum with lowering the bus tickets prices for young people.

How can I find out more information about becoming a Member of Youth Parliament?

Youth Voice

The Youth Voice project gives young people the opportunity to have their say on key decisions affecting Off the Record. This can include everything from staff recruitment and building our new website to helping us improve our existing services and exploring new ways of supporting young people. As an organisation that is dedicated to young people we believe that you are the best ones to tell us how we can change and develop Off the Record for the better.

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The Youth Voice group meets regularly (around twice a month) to discuss current developments at Off the Record, collect and review feedback from service users, share ideas and plan events/activities.

How can I be involved?

Whether you have used OTR’s services or just want to simply help improve wellbeing services for young people, if you are aged between 11-25, you can Join OTR’s Youth voice project here (link to sign up with email)

By joining our Youth Voice group, you also become an Off the Record Youth Representative. The role of an OTR Youth Rep is to:

  • Make sure everyone’s voice is heard
  • Ensure Off the Record is meeting the needs of young people and providing the support they want
  • Help spread the word about Off the Record

By joining OTR’s Youth Voice group and becoming a representative, not only do you make a difference by helping Off the Record to provide a better service for young people in Bath and North East Somerset, but it could also be a chance for you to:

  • Gain new skills and experiences
  • Socialise and make friends
  • Create your own projects, events and activities
  • Have fun!

If you have any feedback you would like to share please get in touch, it’s easy!

Meet your OTR Youth Representatives