Oscar, a Family Help Advisor from Cardiff Family Advice and Support (CFAS), answers some common questions about getting help and support as young people in Cardiff.
What’s it like being a Family Help Advisor at CFAS?
When I first meet a young person, they either smile, disappear or snarl at me – the way the Demogorgon does at Eleven in that scary episode of Stranger Things. Though fortunately, they never try to eat me! Something I definitely interpret as a positive first step in my efforts at trying to get to know them.
Now, it can be fun being a Family Help Advisor who works with young people, though it’s certainly tough at times. When I speak to a child or teenager, I like to think of myself as a kind of Sensei…like Daniel Larusso from Cobra Kai, or perhaps even the cooler one, Johnny Lawrence. After all, my job is to try and positively influence young people, whether in overcoming bullying, working together with their friends and family to deal with their relationships, or by learning to overcome their unhappy thoughts and feelings. One thing I never do, however, is teaching them how to kick people in the head. Kicking people in the head is never a good solution!
How do we talk?
Before the COVID pandemic struck and changed our lives forever, I used to regularly visit young people at home. Nowadays, I tend to speak to them on the phone, via WhatsApp message, or through Teams video call. I’m pleased to say this works very well and gives young people an opportunity to tell me their troubles and how they think I can help.
Of course, many young people might not know exactly what I can do to help, but that’s okay because they have plenty of opportunities to speak with me and so we can work that bit out that as we go along.
Can we meet in person?
Although much of what we do is by phone, sometimes a young person may want to meet me in person. Those are the times when I come out to see them and maybe walk around the park with them or chat with them in their house.
Do you tell anyone what we talk about?
What a young person says to me is confidential, meaning I don’t go telling their parents, teachers, friends, or neighbours. Unless they tell me something that makes me worry for their safety, then it’s my job to tell someone who can help!
Can my family be involved?
I believe people are only really helped when everybody in their home is helped as well. Since everybody in a family is important, I also give family members (mums, dads, grandparents, siblings, etc) an opportunity to speak to me too.
Think of getting help like repairing a car. If you were to change all the flat tyres, clean the dashboard, and polish the nodding dog in the back seat but didn’t bother fixing the engine, the car wouldn’t go anywhere. It’s kinda the same with a family… kinda.
How long do I get help for?
You’ll be glad to know that we can work with you for up to 12 weeks. This might mean speaking to you once a week or several times a week. It may go on for 12 weeks or you may feel that you’ve got the help you need after just 3 weeks.
Plus, there’s no boring work for you to do either! No filling in forms or writing loads of things down. We do that part so you can save your super brainpower for your school homework and figuring out how Stranger Things ends, or whether Daniel and Johnny become good friends.
Also, if you decide you don’t want to work with us (even though we are pretty cool), you don’t have to.
How exactly do you help?
We can help in a number of ways. It could be:
- Speaking to you and giving you advice
- Attending a school meeting with or for you
- Signposting you to a specific service that specialises in the kind of help you need
- And much more!
After all, people have different skills and abilities. You wouldn’t want the maths teacher helping you with your art homework, would you? It’s better that the maths teacher speaks to the art teacher and gets them to help you with that particular subject, right? Same with us. If we can help you, we will. If not, we will find someone who can!
How do I get a Family Help Advisor?
If someone who works with you or your family (like a teacher, a nurse, a youth worker, etc) thinks that you may need some help, they can contact our Family Help Gateway service and put in a referral.
Or, an adult from your family may contact us and say, ‘Oi, you! Yes, you! We need some help!’. The Contact Officer from the Family Gateway will write down what you need help with and then that information (a referral) comes to our team (The Family Help Team). Next, you or a member of your family will receive a call from someone like me, and we can start helping you.
You can also put in a referral for yourself as a child or young person. You can do that by telephoning the Family Gateway on 03000 133 133 or emailing them at ContactFAS@cardiff.gov.uk.
So, that’s it from me. I hope I’ve answered some of your questions and given you enough confidence to speak to one of us (a Family Help Worker) should you wish to. And remember, if in between telling us your troubles, you also want to discuss the latest Netflix series, you can…just don’t give away the ending! We look forward to meeting you in the future.