Improving advocacy in Bristol

I’m pleased to share that the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership (KBSP) and the Community Learning Team (at the West of England Combined Authority) are offering a Level 2 City and Guilds Award in Independent Advocacy.

The qualification is the equivalent of one GCSE and helps learners understand the role of an advocate, providing a steppingstone into the world of advocacy. The qualification’s first cohort started in September 2021 and the qualification will run at least four times a year.

Bristol is a trauma-informed city and acknowledges that people may have had Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). This means that safeguarding services and partner agencies in Bristol recognise that people have experience of different types of trauma and ACEs in their lives and acknowledges the potential effects that this can have on individuals, as well as on their families, networks, and communities.

Aligned with the KBSP’s Priority Number 2, ‘Citizens of Bristol are our equal partners’, they undertook a survey with parents and carers who had children on child protection plans to look at how child protection conferences can be more inclusive.

One of the themes that emerged was the importance of peer advocacy and feelings of being heard – having someone who understood what it was like to be in their situation speaking on their behalf when they felt disempowered.

The role of an independent advocate is to support and represent a person and to facilitate their involvement in the key processes and interactions with the local authority and other organisations as required.

Through discussions with partner agencies that provide advocacy services, it was agreed that Bristol would benefit from an advocacy qualification that was recognised throughout the city. Advocating for someone can be an important part of a person’s healing journey too.

Initially, the KBSP and the Community Learning Team created a six-week pilot course as an introduction to advocacy. After meeting with the first cohort of learners, they reflected that they wanted a more in-depth course and an accredited qualification that was nationally recognised. After extensive research, the Community Learning Team registered to run the Level 2 City and Guilds Award in Independent Advocacy. Partner safeguarding agencies have contributed content to support the qualification, so learners have a better understanding of safeguarding services and their role within Bristol.

The Community Learning Team run the qualification for free, providing learners with a laptop and internet access, as well as creche facilities. They also provide English for speakers of other languages support, learning assistants, and routes to gain GCSEs in Maths and English.

If you would like further information about the qualification and to sign up as a learner, please contact Lucy Fieldhouse at the Community Learning Team:

If you are a safeguarding agency and would like to contribute content to the qualification, please contact Jennifer Wills at the KBSP:  

You can find more information about the qualification here:

Level 2 Award in Independent Advocacy – Community Learning Bristol (