A message from the Children’s Commissioner
Sally talks about the rights you have whatever is happening in the world, and what you can do if you’re worried.
The services you are used to using are being delivered differently at the moment, because of Coronavirus. Because of “social distancing”, meeting lots of people face to face is not always safe. If we are to meet other people we need to keep two metres apart from each other, wash hands regularly and meet others who live in a different house outside. This is why you may not have seen your family and friends as you normally would or any adults in your life who provide support, such as social workers and personal advisers.
The services that support you and the people who work there are still there – they are just working differently.
You still have your rights and it is important that any adult working to support you works in your best interests. It is important that your views, wishes and feelings are listened to by adults and you are helped to be involved in decisions made about your life.
Having contact with adults who help you
Your social worker or support worker may come to visit you. They may be wearing a mask. This is for both your safety, to protect you from Coronavirus.
It is important that you know how to contact your social worker. If you do not know how to contact your social worker, speak to your carers, advocate, or call your Local Authority Duty Team. If you cannot get in touch, you could contact our Investigation and Advice Team.
Seeing friends and family
The way you see your family may be different, and you may be speaking to parents, sibling, aunties, uncles or grandparents over the phone, or via a video call, or writing letters. As the threat of Coronavirus in the community is lower, you may be able to meet your family outside, if this is considered safe by your social worker. Speak with your social worker if you would like to see people face to face. They will need to explore this for you to make sure it is safe to do so.
Important meetings, like reviews and plans
You will still have your reviews with your social worker and IRO. These might be done through a video call. If you are a little unsure about this, ask your social worker for a practice call, or speak with your social worker, advocate, IRO or a trusted adult before to share your concerns. It is important that your voice is heard at these meetings and you should be told of any changes to the way it is held.
You may be missing the routine of education and seeing friends. If you have a social worker, you can attend Summer Holiday Clubs. Your social worker can help you with this.
Coronavirus-related advice for young people who have left care
We’ve created a short guide for young people who have left care. It includes information about:
- Income and benefits
- Mental health support
Whatever the circumstances, all care experienced young people have a right to have a say in the decisions that affect them, and to have their voice heard.
Any child or young person who usually lives in Wales and has a social worker can have an Independent Professional Advocate.
There are two providers for this, NYAS and TGP Cymru.
There’s a tool that shows which provider works in your area.
Support from Voices from Care
Voices from Care support care experienced young people in Wales.
They’re offering some the following support to young people:
- Social check-ins, including Facebook live chats and Skype calls
- Wellbeing support
- Virtual hangouts
- Info and advice
Utility Bill Advice
You might be worried about how you can top up your water, gas and electricity if you are staying in and avoiding public places. Below is some information which may be helpful on how to do this, without needing to go out to the shops, and what to do if you’re struggling to pay.
Out of gas and electricity and having to self-isolate
If you haven’t already, it might be worth looking into whether you are able to sign up to a ‘pay as you go’ smart meter. This means that you can top up using apps instead of having to go out to the shops. You would need to check with your landlord/housing association to check that you are able to do this.
If you do not have a meter and cannot get out to the shops; you can buy codes by ringing your supplier’s customer services and then you can type these into your meter to top up.
If you’re counted as part of a vulnerable group, gas and electricity suppliers need to make sure that you aren’t at risk from having your supply cut off. If there’s an issue with your supply not working, your company should try to fix yours before other people’s. You should get in touch with your supplier to let them know if you are a vulnerable person so they know to prioritise you.
Out of Gas and Electric fund (including emergency)
If you contact your gas or electricity supplier and tell them that you do not have the funds, you can ask them to top up the meter for you. You will have to make repayments, which will come off automatically when you top up in the future; but you can discuss how they can make this work for you in the best way possible. You will need to give them information about your income or any benefits you might be claiming.
If you are an EDF customer and are struggling to meet payments for gas and electric bills the link below takes you to their EDF Energy Customer Support Fund..
If you’re a low income household and you get mveans-tested benefits, you might be able to get support through the Dwr Cymru HelpU tariff to reduce your future water bills. Below is a link to the application webpage with Live Chat.
Emergency/Fault with Supply
If you have an emergency regarding your water supply – you can call the number below free of charge-
0800 281 432
My Planner is our website for young people in care and young people leaving care.
It explains what rights and entitlements you have and what the adults around you need to do.