Finding a supporting document – an overview of key steps
Personal records include sensitive information and there are rules and regulations to make sure the right information goes to the right person (you can find out more about your rights to ask for personal information and how that process works at the Information Commissioners Website here https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/your-right-to-get-copies-of-your-data/ ). In general there are a number of key steps to finding and obtaining a supporting document:1. Identify the main organisations which might be most likely to hold a record of your time in care. This will be the organisation that ran the care setting (local authority, faith-based/religious or third sector organisation) and the organisation responsible for placing you in care ( e.g. a Local Authority or Court).
Sometimes there might not be care records, but your name might be on a Social Work Register or Education Register. The care organisation or the local authority are likely to be your best first options. If you have tried and have had no success, please call us. You might want to think about other options such as Police or Health records -we have provided more information below.2. You have a choice to make
a) do you, for the time being, only want to obtain one supporting document for the purpose of the Advance Payment Scheme?
b) do you want access to all personal information held about your time in care (including that for the purpose of the Advance Payment Scheme)?
a) If you only want one supporting document, then please make that clear in your request to the organisation/s when you contact them. Asking for one supporting document may reduce the time that it takes an organisation to get back to you. It can also be helpful to let them know that you want the document for the purposes of an Advance Payment.
b) If you request all personal information held from an organisation and there are a number of records for you, sometimes these will have to be 'redacted' (information about a third party is removed). This can take a bit longer to get the information that you need. You can always ask for fuller personal information at a later date. Please remember if you are to receive some detailed information about your time in care, this might be upsetting and we would like to remind you about the support available to help you with this.
3. Make a request in writing, either by letter or email, for your personal information to the organisation(s) that may hold a record about your time in care. This request for your personal information is called a 'Subject Access Request' or a SAR. The main care providers and all local authorities are aware of the Advance Payment Scheme and their role in helping survivors find one supporting document in order to apply. This means it is helpful for you to highlight if this is the purpose of your request (See bullet point 2a) and 2b) above)
4. If you intend to contact a Local Authority to ask for a supporting document, please contact the Advance Payment Team. We have a template letter that has been agreed with local authorities for the purpose of Advance Payments. The template is designed to help you provide the right information and make the process easier.
5. If you are not sure who to contact or you need contact details please get in touch with the Advance Payment Team
6. Provide as much information as you can in your request. At a minimum you will need to provide your name, any name that you were previously known by, your date of birth and details of where and the dates (approximate dates if not known) you were in care. As social work records in particular are sometimes stored under different family members' names, it is also helpful if you can provide the names of any siblings or family members who might also have had a care record or who had been placed in care with you. A subject access search will be conducted by an organisation based on the information you provide only, so please provide as much detail as you can when making a subject access request.
7. For security purposes, you may be asked to provide identification to verify that the sensitive personal data you are requesting is about you.
Please contact the Advance Payment Team on 0808 169 9740 if any of the process is unclear, if you have any further questions or difficulties or, if you would like to be referred to an organisation that can help you with the process of obtaining a supporting document.