Friday, 23 August 2013

The point of advocacy

Some people have asked me why I keep banging on about advocacy.

Well, imagine that you need support, or care, or housing or a GP.

Now imagine that you are routinely disbelieved or given poorer services.
That you don’t get access to a GP.
Or that your physical health problem are ignored or put down to your mental health .

Or imagine that you are in a care home where you are being abused by the staff.
Or that in your care home you feel like you have no say at all in what happens or what you do.

Imagine finding out that someone put a Do Not Resuscitate notice are put on your file.
That they did this without your knowledge because they believed your life had no quality or value.
That they didn't ask you because you are old, or have a learning disability, or have a diagnosis of depression.

Then imagine that there was a thing called advocacy that could help you be listened to.

Imagine the difference that it would make to have someone standing alongside you.
Someone whose presence actively demonstrates that they think that you matter.
Someone showing that you are not alone, that you are part of our wider society.
Someone who treats you with respect and who expects others to do the same.

Someone who helps you to be heard.
Someone who is there to make it harder for others to ignore your voice, you rights.
Someone who makes it harder to ignore you.

That's the point of advocacy. 
I think that's worth banging on about. It needs to be kept on the agenda.

Other people ask why anyone should care that Action for Advocacy has closed?

Well, put yourself back in that position.
If advocacy was available, you’d want to know about it. 
You'd want an advocate who could be there for you.
Someone who knew what they were doing.
Someone who could do these important things as well as possible.
Advocacy is too important to get wrong. 

Advocates need to be trained, accountable, clear about their role and supported to deliver this..
Advocacy organisations need to be robust, independent and able to challenge poor practices.
That's what a4a was trying to achieve. 
We got part of the way, but it can't be left there.
We need to talk about what happens next.

I need your help.
I want you to get involved, have your say & help decide what happens.
If you're interested email and I'll get in touch soon.

As ever, comments welcome.


  1. Advocacy )Essex) Services Ltd30 August 2013 at 07:59

    Advocacy is an invaluable resource. We cannot afford to waste it OR lose it. We must keep it, fund it and use it wisely.

  2. Still people with learning difficulites are having their rights and choices taken away from them. The most basic things like a home they feel safe in and supported by people they choose and trust. Being able to choose the food they eat when they eat and be involved with cooking and prepareing food.
    Relationships and friendships people are still being stopped from haveing relationships being able to marry have children. people are isolated because they only see people they live with don't have friends away from the home or can only get out when staff take them out.
    Advocacy is important to allow people the chance to speak up feel valued and MAKE people listen to them.
    It cannot just be a tick box excercise for people to say oh yeah we provide Advocacy it has to allow people to have real control over their lives and for them to be able to lead proper full filling lives.
    It has to be funded.

  3. I'm a great advocate of advocacy and think it's so important that we all devote ourselves to working hard at promoting it and the way it can have very real impact on people who are exposed to the sharp end of social care and health care services without much thought.

    As someone who has worked in social care/health for 20 years, I still struggle with understanding the system. It isn't about not being able to speak up for ourselves - although sometimes it is - it's about knowing how to work with and around systems that are sometimes developed in order to create more challenges and obfuscation than allowing people to have a clear view of their rights.

    Thank you for writing about it and focusing the mind on what is this key issue. We all need to fight for advocacy firstly, because we can't take it for granted and we all may well have a need for it but also because, simply, it's the right thing to do.

  4. A whole bunch of people entered social work and social care in the 60s-90s because we believed that its prime foci were care and advocacy. Social work/social care has changed; we haven't.
    ( I would just like to point out for the benefit of that little Frontline shit, that I know the plural of 'focus' is 'foci', that I had a private education and achieved a Russell group Honours degree (in French and Linguistics-Phonetics) AND CHOSE SOCIAL WORK, because that's what I always intended to do. It was a vocation, based on life-experience, not a wage or prestige-related choice. I think that's what makes me a good-enough front-line worker. And, because human experience is so varied, all we should ever hope to be as social workers is 'good enough'. If we have learned nothing else from our education, it should surely be that we cannot be perfect?

  5. I never saw the benefits of A4a's QPM - as a pre-IMHA advocate (from March 2003), I did attend the training introduced from 2006, delivered by people who, say, talked about Tribunals, but who even had no idea that a Judge (not a Chairman) now presided over them.

    In my eight active years as an advocate (before being dismissed, burnt out though lack of support for my diagnosis, and being deemed - although badly supported - unreliable), I saw too many bad consequences of applying The Advocacy Charter slavishly, but with no real idea of what 'client-led services' should be (or not be).

    I have twice written critically of mental health advocacy (on my Unofficial Cambridge Film Festival blog), three times if you include my comments on the lack of understanding of Supervised Community Treatment (CTOs), but I have still found enough affection to Tweet (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) just now about what, at its best, it could be...