Different types of Advocacy.

Self-advocacy

This is when a person with learning difficulties speaks up for themselves especially at important meetings. There are a number of organisations who can help them develop the skills of self-advocacy. They tend to offer opportunities through group advocacy where other people with experience of disability share common problems e.g. People First Groups.

Peer advocacy

In some places (e.g. day centres) where people with learning difficulties know each other well, peer advocacy is developed. This is where a person with learning difficulties speaks up for others who cannot speak so well for themselves.

Case/crisis/short term advocacy

This is where an advocate supports a person with learning difficulties when they most need it. This is a short-term arrangement e.g. care plan meetings. When the issue is sorted out the advocate isn’t needed anymore.

Professional/paid advocacy

Many professionals have as part of their jobs an advocating role e.g. nurses, social workers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, doctors, lawyers etc. In some cases they may not be able to help because their advocacy role may conflict with their professional interests. In these cases professionals should recommend another advocate who can help.

Citizen advocacy

This is usually a volunteer post where an advocate represents a person with learning difficulties views, usually after a long period of getting to know them and as part of a long term partnership. The advocate should be independent from the services they are dealing with and have no conflicts of interest that may affect the advocacy partnership.

When an advocate may be needed

In any situation where important decisions are being made:

- Best interest meetings (Health)

- Care programme meetings (CPA)

- Person Centred Planning

- Care planning meetings (SS)

- Child protection meetings

- Police questioning

- Court procedures

- Health Action Planning

- Housing

- Employment services

- Benefits

- Complaints informal and formal procedures

Can people complain about their advocate?

Each advocate is usually employed or a volunteer for an organisation. These organisations will have a complaints policy. The advocate should give a complaints form to each individual and the contact details of their boss. If they are unhappy with their advocate they need to share this with someone they trust and ask them to help with the complaint. They can also contact their local ‘People First’ group for support.