Modelled on other professional graduate schemes, Advocacy Year aims to improve the lives of under-supported children and young people, while equipping our trainee Youth Advocates with skills and experience that will be invaluable in their future careers.
Advocacy Year is an excellent opportunity for graduates interested in social justice and a possible career in law. Working directly with young people to tackle their multiple, complex issues, trainee Youth Advocates gain advocacy and client care skills, legal knowledge, and first-hand understanding of the difficulties and challenges many young people in our society face.
What does Advocacy Year offer?
This highly competitive programme provides Trainee Youth Advocates with:
- One month intensive training, covering advocacy style, child safeguarding and basic legal knowledge in the areas that most affect the young people we work with: social welfare, education, youth justice and immigration.
- Community-based advocacy work supervised by Just for Kids Law’s experienced and talented in-house advocacy and legal teams:
- Taking a client-led approach to support young people in difficulty;
- Formally advocating for young people in proceedings such as Looked After Child reviews, Social Services assessments, school reintegration meetings, governor body meetings and school exclusion hearings;
- Working alongside our Youth Opportunities team to ensure young people can explore education, training and employment opportunities.
- A Leadership Development Programme.
- A Graduate Alumnae Network.
Our 2018/19 trainees
Joe is trainee Advocate and joined in September 2018 along with Helen, Ellen and Olivia. He was born and raised in Glasgow by Londoners, so has a bit of a strange accent, and has lived in London since March 2017. After working various jobs in various countries, Joe decided to pursue his interest in politics and social justice by studying International Law in Tallinn, Estonia. He presented his BA research on mass surveillance at a human rights conference in Sussex University in 2018 and worked as a paralegal in a mental health law firm until joining Just for Kids Law. Aside from his work (which he loves), Joe enjoys science fiction and loud music.
Olivia graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2016 with a degree in English Literature. While studying, she led the university branch of Students Supporting Street Kids, an international funds and awareness raising organisation supporting NGOs working with street children worldwide. She also travelled to Northern India for two months to facilitate drama workshops with young people at a range of different NGOs and government shelters. Since graduating, Olivia has worked as a Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant in a primary school, and has undertaken the Charityworks Graduate Scheme, where she was placed as a Communications Officer for Spotlight, a creative youth service in Poplar, East London. As part of the scheme she undertook two research projects, one exploring the ways in which Spotlight could improve youth participation and engagement to the creative programmes, and the other interrogating the terms used to refer to young people in the youth justice system. After sitting behind a desk for a year, Olivia realised this wasn’t for her, and is excited to be working as a Trainee Youth Advocate with Just For Kids Law!
Helen graduated from UCL with a degree in History in 2015, and recently completed her studies in law to be a barrister at City Law School. Helen has previously worked in parliamentary public affairs on issues ranging from Syrian refugees to prison reform and education policy. Prior to joining the Advocacy Year programme, Helen worked as a legal officer in an education charity, and was a director at the School Exclusion Project, a pro bono organisation of law students helping parents appeal their child’s exclusion from school.
After studying English at Oxford University, Ellen did a masters in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at UCL. While there, she founded a volunteering project arranging for students to accompany vulnerable asylum seekers to their immigration tribunal hearings, acting both as emotional support and witness in case of an appeal. Since then she has worked with young asylum seekers and refugees through a variety of organisations, including as a casework volunteer for the charity Young Roots and project manager for the summer camp Our Second Home.
Our 2017/18 trainees
While studying Politics and Modern History at the University of Manchester (2016), Grace was awarded the prize for the best overall student paper and oral presentation on her dissertation on the Al-Khanssaa Brigade (ISIL’s all female battalion). She has been a senior mentor with the National Citizen Service Programme, providing organisation, pastoral care and curriculum delivery for a group of 15-17 year olds, and spent three months with Y-Care International in Liberia completing a research project about collecting young peoples voices relating to employment and enterprise. Grace has also worked with young people through the Political Studies Association, which seeks to promote the study of politics for all.
“Advocacy Year is hard work but equally wonderful. Often it’s about keeping calm and supporting young people as they experience real crisis. More fundamentally, it’s about understanding what it really means to listen to young people, in terms of understanding their experiences, wisdom and supporting them in such a way so other professionals in their lives do the same. Youth advocacy underlines the importance of the distinction between facilitating discussion and dominating it.
It develops communicative and interpersonal skills in ways that other positions don’t: in one day you can be working with a young person who has difficulties with written and verbal expression and in the same day dealing with barristers and youth offending team workers, it’s so varied that one day is completely different from the next. Through Advocacy Year you meet incredible, kind and thoughtful young people who are a testament to human resilience, that for me was the best thing about the job.
Being an advocate is about helping young people get to the place they want to be – but it’s their journey. You see people go from a dire situation to independence as they see fit. You finish the year with sense of wonder and awe at the young people you work with and I know I will remember them forever.”
Zafar studied Politics, Psychology and Sociology at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 2013. He completed an MA in History at Royal Holloway, University of London, focusing on the history of black self defence in the U.S. and the Deacons for Defense and Justice – prominent exponents of black self defence during the U.S. civil rights era. Alongside his studying, Zafar played professional cricket for Surrey and England between 2010 and 2017. During that time, he became closely involved with the Surrey Cricket Foundation and Lord’s Taverners, organisations dedicated to providing disadvantaged children with better sporting opportunities.
“Above all, Advocacy Year provided me with an amazing opportunity to spend a lot of time with a group of kind, intelligent and courageous young people. It also gave me a unique insight into the various ways in which inequality reproduces itself in the UK. The difference between reading about this and coming into direct contact with it was stark and eye-opening.
This experience was amplified by the fact that such inequality often manifests itself through a process of silencing. In this context, arguably my main contribution as an advocate was to listen closely to those young people I was supporting, to take them seriously, and to try to compel others to do the same.
Along the way, I had to develop effective communication skills; to make sure I was being clear with the young people, and persuasive on their behalf. Equally, learning how to stay poised during a genuine crisis was essential to providing the best service possible to those I was helping.
In these and many other ways, Advocacy Year was a hugely beneficial experience for me. I’m really proud to have worked at Just for Kids and I’m very grateful to have had the chance to spend a year at such a ground-breaking organisation.”
Madey graduated in 2015 from the University of Nottingham with a degree in History, and this year she went on to complete a GDL with City, University of London. Prior to joining Just for Kids Law, Madey volunteered as an Adviser at Bexley Citizens Advice Bureau for three years, and more recently trained as a Social Security Representative with the Free Representation Unit. She has worked as a Youth Mentor with HeadStart and as a SEN teaching assistant. In 2015, she spent three months in South Africa working with a youth development organisation providing holistic support to young orphan children.
Albinia graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2016, where she was active in feminist politics and organising. Since then, she has worked as the assistant to the Headteacher of Kingsford Community School and supported refugees as an intern at Breaking Barriers. Prior to working for Just for Kids Law she was living and teaching in France. Previously, she spent a summer as a community organiser in Togo.
Our first trainees
Augusta Itua, Trainee Youth Advocate, 2016/17
Having studied law at the University of Kent, Augusta was attracted to this opportunity as she cares passionately about social justice and is thinking about a career in immigration law. Advocacy Year is a stepping stone which has given her the skills and experience to advance her career aspirations.
“Being part of Advocacy Year has provided me with the unique opportunity to make a difference to the lives of many young people in difficulty. I have been helping young people with issues as diverse as immigration, housing and social welfare, while also developing my legal knowledge. I am learning new skills daily, which I will be able to apply in my future career.”
Frankie Shama, Trainee Youth Advocate, 2016/17
Having studied English Language and Literature at Oxford, Frankie is hoping to carry the knowledge and skills he has gained through Advocacy Year into a future family law practice.
“My experience at Just for Kids as a youth advocate has been one I will carry with me for a long time to come. I have done everything from providing emotional support and a voice during meetings with social workers, to giving oral submissions on behalf of an excluded pupil in front of an Independent Review Panel, and arguing at housing services about a young person’s right to accommodation. My knowledge of young people’s legal rights and entitlements has greatly improved as a result.”
For enquiries, please contact Simon Cousins, Advocacy Year Project Manager: email@example.com
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