Introducing our two new advocates

We are excited to welcome two new advocates to the Guardian for Children and Young People’s advocacy team.

Anneline Gregory has joined our team on a full-time basis for the next 12 months after recently relocating from the UK. Anneline brings 20 years’ experience as a qualified social worker, with a focus on child protection, out of home care and as a children’s guardian in the UK court system.

Joel Georgeson will be working with us part time until the end of the year. Joel brings valuable experience as a teacher and a senior child and youth practitioner within residential care for the Department for Child Protection.

We sat down with our new advocates to find out more about them…

Anneline Gregory

What inspires you to work with children and young people in care?
I feel privileged to work with children and young people in care as I think they are some of the bravest children and young people that I have met.  The opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child or young person who has already been through so much, is something that keeps me going.  To see those children or young people thrive, knowing what they have been through, fills me with joy and admiration for each of them.

How does advocacy/support for young people in care work in the UK?
As soon as a child is placed in care and then every 3-6 months thereafter their needs are monitored through statutory reviews.  The child’s foster carer and case worker advocate on the child’s behalf but the child also has an allocated independent reviewing officer who chairs the review meetings and who would also challenge DCP if tasks on the care plan were outstanding or not in the child’s best interest.  The child will have an opportunity to express their wishes and feelings before and during the review and it is a requirement that these are clearly recorded.

In the UK, the majority of children in out of home care are in foster care placements rather than residential care.  Residential care is only really used for children with complex needs whose needs could not safely be met in a foster placement.

What are three words that best describe you?
Kind, organised and creative.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I love spending time with my family.  Our happy place is at the beach.  Watching the waves roll in, the sun shining, having a little swim, it doesn’t get much better than that.  We also enjoy camping, being outdoors, travelling and discovering new places.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?​ 
‘There is always something to laugh about’. For me, the advice is about maintaining a positive mental attitude and looking for the funny or the positive side of a difficult situation, rather than to allow it to get you down.

Joel Georgeson

What inspires you to work with children and young people in care?
The little moments where I’ve been able to help them achieve their goals, bring joy to their lives and see them experience something new for the first time.

You have worked as a senior youth practitioner in residential care for 5 years What was your biggest learning about the rights and needs of children and young people in care?
The most important thing I learnt is that children and young people deserve a team of people around them who genuinely have their best interests at the centre of all decisions, who will listen and truly understand them. All children and young people have their own amazing personalities and they need people who will listen to them and fight for them and their needs.

How do you think your experience in that role could benefit your new role as an advocate?
I believe my previous role has equipped me with the experience and skills to build trusting relationships with the children and young people who I will be advocating for. It has also provided me with an in-depth understanding of the needs and issues facing young people living in care and how to best support them.

What are three words that best describe you?
Positive, energetic and compassionate.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I’m not at work I love to spend time with my wife and three pets, I’m also an avid reader and enjoy finding a comfy spot and losing a few hours in a book.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?​
Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.

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