With Advocacy Advocacy Awareness Week coming to a close, Care Act/ Independent Mental Capacity Advocate, Sarah has been inspired to write about advocacy.
Over the course of the week, on our website and on social media, we have introduced various types of advocacy. We’ve discussed advocacy’s function, its power and the effect it can have on individuals and communities. Sarah has considered advocacy from a different perspective, an often overlooked perspective: advocacy for advocates. Everyone has times when they need support; Sarah’s article explores this theme.
The Advocate’s Advocate
During advocacy awareness week – my thoughts turned to how I can celebrate advocacy and raise awareness of the work advocates do. I thought about how we all have times when we need to advocate for ourselves and need support to do this.
I value advocacy, passionately. It’s the simplest act you can do for someone. It’s about listening to a person; supporting them and walking hand in hand on the person’s journey. You support the right to make decisions for those that find decision making challenging; perhaps for people and their families who struggle to understand the complicated processes of social work.
It’s challenging work! But ultimately rewarding when that person’s wishes and feelings are really considered and an outcome is positive, for that person.
Advocates need grit, determination, hope, and resilience in abundance. This made me think of a simple question: who supports and advocates for advocates?
I wanted to tell you about Donika, Vicky and Lindsay. All experienced advocates, with years’ of dedication and commitment to advocacy, they balance challenging caseloads with additional responsibilities. They are our guardian advocates; they support us, myself and my advocate colleagues, whenever we need support.
They listen; they pick us up when our resilience is truly tested. Always on the end of the phone if we are having a bad day and sometimes on hand with the tea and tissues: they are our support system.
Advocates are empathetic, caring beings. We emotionally invest. We worry. We doubt ourselves. ‘Am I doing the right thing for this person? Am I doing enough?’ We challenge. We represent.
Donika, Vicky and Lindsay are charged with listening to us in supervision; endless hours of referral reviews, guiding, empowering, sharing experience and knowledge. Picking us up when we are down, giving us practical and helpful guidance: they help us to support our clients with wise words and a different perspective. I’ve been thinking abut how they do it? How they balance their work and their commitment to our team. I don’t know the answers, but I am truly grateful for them for advocating for me.
The simplest act of kindness is to listen, without judgement, supporting even if you disagree, teaching, guiding us to help us help the people we support. We all need someone; my people are these. I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me help others.