Working together to help things run smoothly

Agencies which support young people are often pushed for time and resources and so it is important to manage paperwork, administration tasks and casework  as efficiently as possible. 

Quite often, a young person is relying on a support worker to help them to prioritise actions and keep on top of things. It is helpful to ask the young person for consent to share information with their support worker early on in the process. If they are happy to do so, you can work with the support worker to help get things done, however it is still important to keep the young person in the loop with actions and progress.

This is true not only because of the bureaucratic burden on organisations and case workers but also because when young people feel excluded they can disengage . Also, if everyone understands what paperwork they need to get together and why it is needed, it can prevent cases being held up waiting for documents to be printed and signed. 

This is especially the case because young people in crisis often do not have copies of important documents to hand and precious time can be lost in finding the right documents. 

There is no ‘magic bullet’ for a smooth and easy process and a solution that works well for one organisation, won’t work in another. However, we have found that there are some tips and techniques that are useful when it comes to communicating between advice workers, support workers and young people to enable the process of getting paperwork together run as smoothly as possible. 

There is more information on important documents in the support worker toolkit. 

Managing expectations and providing a clear, consistent approach with timescales is extremely important. 

  • Consider making a template or checklist that can be given to young people and support workers detailing what information you will need from them. This can be given early on so they can start putting together the evidence and documentation needed. 
  • Where possible, use data sharing agreements with partner agencies to get key information to avoid having to give the same information many times.
  • Mention any deadlines or time frames that are important e.g. will they need documents from a specific time? Do you need to receive it before a specific date? If so, make sure to let them know as soon as possible. E.g. for means tested legal aid, the young person will need to provide 3 months of bank statements, providing this information early on can be helpful.
  • Remember that young people will often not have access to a printer - offering online options to sign or complete forms and documents will save a great deal of time. Alternatively, software such as Adobe Acrobat which enables users to sign documents electronically is very beneficial.

Make sure notes and actions are written down in the appointment and are shared and agreed by you and the young person. Young people may not always ask questions in a meeting if there are aspects that they don’t understand. Often, young people told us that they leave appointments feeling confused about what’s next. 

Co-producing an action plan with the young person can help them to break down the advice given at the appointment. It can also be helpful during this process to check their understanding of the advice received and the next steps. 

You can ask questions like;

  • “What difference do think this advice will make to your situation”
  • “What on the action plan will make the most difference to your situation”

Having notes from the advice appointment, key contacts listed and advice resources written down can be shared with the young person's support worker to help facilitate the ongoing advice process. 

A good practice for making a referral

Sometimes we might have to make referrals to support services. Good practice for making a referral combines information, facts, what help is required, why it’s required and who else is involved. 

It’s important to know as much as possible about why the young person might need support so the support agency can provide the right support for them. 

Discuss with the young person why a support worker might be beneficial

Always remember to have honest and transparent conversations with the young person. They will always be the best source of information for their own experience. However, they might not be aware of the support available to them. Look through the service together and see if you can read through any case studies or quotes from other young people in similar situations who have accessed the service. 

Why does the young person you're working with need support?  

Here is where you need to outline why you are making the referral for support. You need to document why it’s important that the young person has support. This could be because of physical or mental illness. They may find dealing with multiple instructions and tasks really confusing and find it difficult to prioritise appointments and deadlines. You can outline here and medical needs that might be making accessing advice difficult for them. 

What does the young person need support with? 

Is the support practical? emotional? Or both? Is it to help them manage their advice issues? Seeking help for advice can be hugely emotional for young people and often really overwhelming. Do they need someone to help them break down tasks such, opening their post, getting bank statements, creating and managing accounts online and collecting documents ready for the next advice appointment? A support worker may reduce barriers to continued access to advice by being able to provide this level of support. 

Who else is involved with the young person's care? 

This can be other agencies or key members of the family, trusted friends or responsible adults. Having lots of people being involved in helping you can be useful but it can also get confusing as to who is doing what. Ask the young person if you have consent to share information with other agencies/key people, it’s also important to know if there are people the young person does not want you to share their information with. List all the people involved in supporting the young person in the referral form. 

When completing a referral form, try to complete as much as possible and where possible complete it with the young person. 

Roles and responsibilities for support workers

Good outcomes often come when advice workers and support workers collaborate to help a young person. 

Through Ask Us, we found that it was useful to understand the different roles that advice workers and support workers played. Always remember to get consent from the young person to contact other professionals or family or friends. 

Social workers

Social workers work on behalf of the local authority. They work closely with a number of professionals, including doctors, teachers and the police, to share information and promote effective communication, ensuring the safety of the young person.

  • to act in the best interests, and promote the physical and mental health and well-being, of those children and young people;
  • to encourage those children and young people to express their views, wishes and feelings;
  • to take into account the views, wishes and feelings of those children and young people;
  • to help those children and young people gain access to, and make the best use of, services provided by the local authority and its relevant partners;
  • to promote high aspirations, and seek to secure the best outcomes, for those children and young people;
  • for those children and young people to be safe, and for stability in their home lives, relationships and education or work;
  • to prepare those children and young people for adulthood and independent living.

Children and social work act 2017. 

PA’s (Personal Assistants)

When  a young person enters care, they are allocated a social worker. 

When they turn 16, they are introduced to a personal adviser (PA) who will work alongside the social worker until they reach the age of 18. Once the young person turns 18, the PA will become the primary worker and they will no longer have access to a social worker. 

The PA is there to support and advise the young person with making the right decisions for them. The PA will continue working with them until 21, or up to the age 25 if they  are in full-time education or if a request for additional support and advice has been made. 

For care leavers aged 18 to 21, the PA will make contact at least every eight weeks. 

  • provide advice (including practical advice) 
  • liaise with the responsible authority in the implementation of the young person's pathway plan;
  • enabling the young person to have access to relevant information, services and advice.
  • keep up to date with the young person’s progress and wellbeing;
  • provide information about financial capability-how to manage day to day finances;
  • provide housing options available to the care leaver
  • support in accessing further education, employment or training;
  • attend appointments and offer practical help

Support workers(Tasks vary according to the specific role)

  • providing physical support which may include helping with household tasks
  • providing emotional support for an individuals (some support workers are trained in CBT) 
  • supporting and helping with health care needs, including routine checks and making and managing appointments. 
  • encouraging and supporting the development of personal skills through hobbies and interests.
  • teaching life skills, such as shopping, using public transport and paying for bills.
  • encouraging independent living and resilience. 

Wider network

Friends, Family, College tutors. 

It’s important to remember that there might be other people in the young person’s life that they can trust to help them navigate tasks, appointments, scheduling phone calls and note taking. 

Does the young person have someone close to them that they can ask for support with their issue? 

Do they have someone that

  • is easy to talk to
  • doesn't judge
  • they can trust
  • has been through similar issues
  • has access to practical things like a phone, a car, a printer



Template notes and action plan for using online information