Skip To Content

Advocacy: What it is and how it helps

Advocacy is something that people will experience every day, yet many people are unfamiliar with the term. This Advocacy Awareness Week we, in partnership with many other advocacy organisations across the country are going back to basics.

We are working to raise awareness and understanding of advocacy so that if you or someone you know ever needs advocacy in the future, you will know what it is and how you can access it.

By reading this article you will have the information you need to become an Advocacy Ambassador. Take a look.

'Speaking up': What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is about speaking up. It is about speaking up for yourself and speaking up for others when they are unable to speak up for themselves. Advocacy is about helping you to understand your rights and have a say in things which are happening in your life. Advocacy helps you share your feelings and wishes and tell people what is really important to you.

People use advocacy in everyday situations in their lives at home, or even at work. For example you may telephone the Dentists only to be told that there are no appointments available. You then go on to explain to the receptionist that you have tooth ache, and you really need to see a Dentist urgently. The receptionist then finds an appointment for you the next day. This is called self- advocacy.

You have identified a need (to see the dentist), and you have communicated your feelings and wishes (you have tooth ache, and you really need to see a Dentist). By speaking up and self-advocating for yourself, you have had a positive outcome- a Dentist appointment. This is just one example.

What is Independent Advocacy

Sometimes people need support to self-advocate for themselves; family, friends, colleagues, and supporters may help you. Sometimes people may need support from a formal advocate- this is called independent advocacy. It is called independent advocacy because the people acting as advocates are independent from all health and social care services and are only there to be on your side and to help you advocate for yourself.

There are many different types of independent advocacy, and you can find out about them here.

A Shared Commitment: The Advocacy Charter

All organisations that provide independent advocacy and people acting as independent advocates, work to The Advocacy Charter[1]. This is a set of key principles which make sure advocacy providers and advocates are clear about their roles, are able to explain their role to others and provide brilliant advocacy.

The key principles are:

  • Clarity of Purpose: Advocacy providers will share information about their role. They must be open and honest about what they can and cannot do.
  • Independence: Advocacy providers are independent from statutory organisations like local Councils and the NHS. They must work in a way that protects their independence.
  • Confidentiality: Advocacy providers will keep information private and safe. If they need to share information to keep people safe, then they should talk about that with the person first.
  • Person Led: Advocates will be respectful of people’s views, cultures, and experiences. Advocates are on your side and will ask you what you want to happen and when.
  • Empowerment: Advocates will support people to self-advocate as much as possible.
  • Equality and Diversity: Advocacy providers will treat people fairly and with respect. They will make any changes needed to help people get advocacy support.
  • Accessibility: Advocacy services are free. Advocates should use words people understand and meet with people in a place that is good for them.
  • Accountability: Advocates will work alongside you to make sure you agree with any actions they are taking. They will not do things unless you have said it is ok.
  • Safeguarding: Advocates will work to safeguard peoples’ human rights and will help people live a life free from abuse and neglect.
  • Supporting Advocates: Advocacy providers must give their advocates good support to do their job. This includes training and supervision.

These principles apply to all types of advocacy. They are really important, and you can ask Advocacy providers and advocates about them at any time.

Accessing Advocacy

If you or someone you know needs advocacy support, you can contact your local advocacy organisation to find out more about the services they offer.

If you are unsure about who your local advocacy organisation is, you can contact your local Council or us. We would be happy to help you find your local service.

Being An Advocacy Ambassador

If you don’t need advocacy right now, after reading this article, you have the information you need to help others. Knowing Advocacy principles, knowing how to access Advocacy and how to encourage self-advocacy, you can help others understand Advocacy and connect people with the services available.

If you'd like any more information, get in touch with us by:

  • live-chat on our website
  • giving us a call on 03003 038037
  • or dropping us an email at [email protected]

Congratulations on becoming an Advocacy Ambassador.

[1] New Advocacy Charter - NDTi