Advocacy – a brief introduction
The principle behind advocacy services is to support you in having your voice heard.
With a professional person to represent your interests, you can exercise your rights, maximise your options and make an informed choice.
Speak for yourself
Some people with a disability or cognitive impairment may not be able to fully participate in important discussions, the outcome of which may affect their life.
If your circumstances preclude you from understanding and engaging in communication, this presents a barrier that could have life changing consequences.
Advocacy is a way around this; by providing a support service, of your choice, your concerns and views can be listened to and expressed.
By gathering information for you you can understand how to contact relevant people who can help you, or they can be contacted on your behalf.
It can be immensely difficult for some people to travel to meetings or appointments alone, due to their difficulties. In such cases an advocate can accompany you to the location and support you in the meeting.
Advocacy is an excellent way to ensure you receive fair and equal treatment. Letters can also be written on your behalf by an independent advocate who will not judge, offer personal opinion or make a decision for you.
Me, me, me
You may prefer to deal with an issue by yourself but feel uncertain or vulnerable, in which case supportive guidance for self-advocacy can be given.
The great thing about using an advocacy service is that you retain control, whilst flexibility and confidentiality is inbuilt into the process.
Advocates are professionals who work with integrity and reliability, empowering you, not intimidating you. Your independence and right to equality is supported in a safe, non-threatening environment, working at your own pace on a short or longer term basis.
Designed to individual need, choice and circumstance, an advocate will get to know you and understand what you wish to gain from the service.
In helping you to make your case, possible outcomes can be compared and evaluated and your decision will be respected.
Who goes there…?
Many people who use an advocacy service may struggle with low self-confidence or self-esteem, anxiety or depression; there are others who have experienced discrimination and exclusion with race, religion, culture, sexuality and mental illness. Or you may just find it difficult to put forward your point of view, or choose not to.
The support from an advocate can help you make complaints, deal with social care, bereavement, end of life, housing, debt, benefits, employment and legal issues, family matters, hospital discharge and neighbour disputes.