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A new report says children and young people who have been let down by statutory services and are facing multiple problems such as exclusion from education, homelessness and involvement in the criminal justice system are able to get the help they need through a unique model of support that combines youth advocacy with legal advice and representation.

The independent evaluation report provides rich evidence of the lasting benefits of the youth advocacy casework model pioneered by children’s charity Just for Kids Law (JfKL), including reduced feeling of isolation, improved wellbeing and increased ability to self-advocate. The report was produced by NCVO Charities Evaluation Services.

JfKL was founded with the vision of supporting young people in difficulty to overcome all the issues they face, and the organisation’s individual casework model is holistic, both in the way that it seeks to provide support covering multiple areas of need that a young person has and in the way that they are supported by a team of advocates, lawyers and youth opportunities workers who are co-located to provide a joined-up package of help.

Based on in-depth interviews with young people, as well as the outcomes reported in JfKL’s annual client survey, the evaluation finds “strong evidence” of a number of positive outcomes for young people, including:

  • feeling supported and having consistency of support
  • reduced feeling of isolation
  • improved wellbeing
  • improved social care situation
  • improved education, training and employment situations
  • improved financial situation
  • increased ability to self-advocate

The evaluation concludes that JfKL’s casework model “allowed young people to feel supported in a way they had not felt supported before by other agencies and organisations” and that young people “described the effect as lasting”. In the evaluation interviews, three out of four young people reported positive change in their wellbeing after contacting JfKL, while nine in ten reported feeling less alone when dealing with their problems.

At the same time, JfKL is publishing its annual Impact Report, detailing the various ways in which the organisation supported over 1000 young people in 2018, as well as fighting for wider reform to transform the lives of children and young people. The Impact Report includes case studies illustrating the strengths of JfKL’s holistic approach.

Enver Solomon, CEO of Just for Kids Law, says:

“The young people we work with come to us because they have been failed by a number of statutory services that don’t give them the help they are legally entitled to. Our first ever independent evaluation shows that what we do makes a real difference to these young people, giving them control over their lives and empowering them to move from crisis to stability. With official data showing there are more young people in and on the edge of the care system, more being excluded from education, more facing homelessness and more being criminally exploited, the need for our work remains greater than ever.”

Young people say:

“Having one person working with you that’s consistent, that does help. It allows you to feel a bit more secure and allows you to want the help more.”

“Before I got help ... I attempted to take my own life because I couldn’t access any help, I felt like I had no options. [Just for Kids Law] came and helped me and showed me that I actually do.”

“My life was in other people’s hands. Just for Kids Law helped me understand that is not entirely true and that I do have rights and I can use my rights.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The evaluation report was commissioned by Just for Kids Law (JfKL) as part of its Advocacy Year project, which gives graduates interested in a legal career the chance to work as a youth advocate for a year, gaining practical experience and legal knowledge while making a real difference to the lives of children and young people across East London.
  2. This is the first independent evaluation of JfKL’s casework model since the charity was founded in 2006.
  3. Just for Kids Law is a UK charity that works with and for children and young people to hold those with power to account and fight for wider reform by providing legal representation and advice, direct advocacy and support, and campaigning to ensure children and young people in the UK have their legal rights and entitlements respected and promoted and their voices heard and valued.