When supporting a young person in accessing advice it is good practice to make them aware of the process that follows. 

You wouldn’t take a recommendation from someone if they’d never used that product or service before. The same is true here. 

You can help to manage their expectations by getting to know services you are signposting them to. 

If you haven’t used the service before, you could ring ahead to find out details such as: how they work with clients, whether there are waiting times and how they might be able to help.

It is important that the client knows what a service can do to help as well as what they might not be able to help with. 

Signposting without managing expectations:

“You should go to a Citizens Advice drop in session. You need to take I.D.  You must arrive before 9:00am to get seen, Tell the adviser what’s been going and they will sort it out” 

This statement is not untrue but it could  give the young person unclear or unrealistic expectations of the process. 

Signposting that manages expectations: 

“Let’s look at the Citizens Advice website to see what documents you might need to take with you”

When you see the adviser, they will ask you what’s been going on for you. To help you answer, we could write some bullet points down together before you attend. 

The Citizens Advice drop in opens their doors at 9:00am but I know that people start queuing at about 8:30/8:45am because it’s first come, first seen. 

At a Citizens Advice drop-in the person you see might not have all the answers straight away, this could take time. If there are emergencies, then the adviser should be made aware of these as soon as possible.” 

What happens at the appointment?

Depending on the advice service, they may have a triage consultation first. This will be from a trained professional. They will carry out a full exploration of the client’s situation, identify possible options and then offer suitable next steps. They might offer an advice appointment internally with their service, or a referral to an external specialist or supported self-help. 

During the advice appointment the adviser will ask lots of questions relating to thepresenting issue. They will also ask questions that might not seem relevant but they help the adviser know what advice might be suitable. For example; if a young person presents with issues around being made homeless it might not seem immediately relevant to ask questions about their debts, but this helps the adviser draw upon a wide range of advice options to help the client manage their situation. 

What happens after the appointment?

After the appointment is over your client might have been given a list of websites to use, an appointment with the advice service, external specialist or another agency. 

They might have a follow up appointment or telephone call arranged with the advice agency. Has the young person come away with more questions than answers? That’s okay! They should have been given a contact number for the organisation, encourage them to contact the adviser or organisation and ask the questions. 

Expectations and practicalities

Going to new places and asking for help can be nerve-wracking. If the young person is anxious about the visit, it might be helpful to give them practical information about what to expect. This can include information on how to get there, what sort of space it will be, who the staff are, how long the appointment will be etc.

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“i knew what I wanted to happen… so it was easier and I knew [what to expect]. It was a lot less complicated and I was able to take in information better because I knew roughly how things worked”