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New ‘common sense’ legal guide offers decades of experience and knowledge to advocates

A new guide providing ‘jargon free’ specialist legal knowledge and expertise from a solicitor with more than two decades of experience supporting vulnerable adults and children has been published.

Malcolm Johnson, a senior solicitor in the abuse claims team at Hudgell Solicitors, has provided the legal input into ‘An Advocate’s Guide to Complaints in England’. 

The new book has been published by Pavilion, a leading provider of professional development products and services for public, private and voluntary workers in the health, social care, education, and community safety sectors.

Dr Lynn Brady, an advocate and an independent person for Children Act complaints who has spent 40 years in work linked to improving the lives of children, young people and families, and Muna Adam, an experienced youth advocate who has extensive knowledge of children’s rights and the care system, have co-authored the publication.

Mr Johnson says the guide focuses on helping all those who undertake advocacy work with adults, young people and children either in a professional or voluntary capacity, setting out how concerns can be raised with public bodies, and how advocacy fits within the legal system.

Examples of cases that have progressed to higher bodies, such as Ombudsmen or courts, are also included to give examples of the type of complaints that are successful.

Guide details procedures and answers advocacy questions most commonly asked

“Given the nature of work I have been involved in for many years, providing advice to many organisations and charities which have represented children in care as well as supporting child and adult survivors of abuse and neglect, and I know it is an area in which advocates can play a vital role,” said Mr Johnson.

“I also know it is a role which can be very challenging and confusing and this guide aims to tackle the general questions most commonly asked.”

The guide details the complaints procedures of various organisations and areas, such as healthcare, social care, education, housing, prison, children’s services and the police.

It explains the various types of advocacy provided to complainants and the role and tasks of the advocate, from how a complaint is initially made through the various stages of the procedure, advising on how best to achieve a positive outcome.

“The aim of the guide is to help advocates by providing a resource which they can dip into for advice as and when needed and use the book as a comprehensive route map for the main complaints systems in England,” added Mr Johnson, who is the coordinator of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) Child Injury Special Interest Group.

“This should be particularly helpful for advocates dealing with complaints that may cross between different institutions, such as social care and mental health.”

The guide, which costs £28 and can be published from Pavilion, has been welcomed by Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for England.

He said: “Raising concerns about public bodies can be a bewildering experience, As a result, people can easily get lost in a complaints maze when things go wrong. Advocates play an essential role in making sense of that complexity.

“I have seen many cases where some of our most vulnerable children and adults have only been able to make their voice heard with the help of an advocate.

“I therefore warmly welcome the role that advocates play in ensuring access to justice and I warmly welcome this book, providing a practical, common sense guide to support advocates in their work.’

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