Deputy Minister for Children Huw Lewis will launch a new National Advocacy and Advice helpline for children and young people in Wales
with the help of Radio 1 presenter Aled Haydn Jones.
The helpline – called Meic – is the first of its kind in the UK to be rolled out on a national basis.
The helpline – which is supported by more than £450,000 of Welsh Assembly Government funding – gives children and young people the opportunity to get help on issues important to them, if they feel they are not being heard or their opinion is not being taken into account on matters that affect them.
Children and young people under 25 can get in touch with Meic by free phone (080880 23456), free text (84001) or instant message seven days a week. Initially, Meic will run for 8 hours a day (12-8pm) before becoming a 24 hour service.
Advisers will either provide them with information, let them know where they can get further help or transfer them to an independent professional advocate. These advocates are trained to help children and young people find ways of being involved and being heard on any decision that affects them. They may deal with specific issues because the child or young person is not happy with the current situation and feel that they want help and support to start, stop or change something.
Meic also works with, and complements, other advice services and helplines - such as ChildLine - which have a prominent safeguarding role.
Ahead of the launch of Meic at Glyndwr University, Huw Lewis said:
“Meic is a significant step forward for children and young people’s advocacy in Wales. Not only are we leading the way – we are making sure children and young people are getting support to have their voices and opinions heard in decisions that affect them.
“For the first time, children and young people have a single point of contact – whether that’s by phone, text or instant message – to get the help and support they need.”
Aled Haydn Jones, presenter of Radio 1’s advice show The Surgery and producer of The Chris Moyles Breakfast Show, is backing the Meic helpline.
“Children and young people face a wide range of issues and often feel like they struggle to get their voices heard. I had first-hand experience of this when I was growing up.
“I am extremely happy to endorse Meic because this service will ensure that children in Wales are given a voice to help empower them and ensure that they have positive life experiences.”
Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, who is also speaking at the launch said:
“When you think about finding information there are usually two things which spring to mind: where to find it and will you trust the source? What Meic attempts to do is to provide a solution to both; a home to reliable and accurate information, a one-stop-shop for children and young people.
“Where needed, Meic will also provide a voice for children and young people and any service which enables their voices and opinions to be heard is to be welcomed. I wish the service every success.”
Source: ©Welsh Assembly