Feeling unable to express yourself may make you feel vulnerable, but it’s important to know that independent support called Advocacy is available to help you make yourself heard. Advocacies offer support and guidance to help you communicate with others so that your views are heard and your rights are upheld.
How can an advocate help?
An advocate can assist you by giving you access to information to make informed decisions, giving you the confidence to make these decisions, assisting you to secure your rights and obtain services or further support. Advocates and advocacy schemes work in partnership with the people they support to promote social inclusion, equality and social justice.
Advocates are independent and not connected to care providers.
An advocate can:
- Listen to you
- Help you to discover and explore what your options are
- Provide information to help you make your own informed decision
- Put you in contact with relevant parties
- Contact relevant parties on your behalf and represent you
- Accompany you to meetings and appointments
- Provide emotional support
In some situations, an advocate may need to represent another person’s interests. This is called non-instructed advocacy and is used when a person is unable to communicate their views.
The guidance and support given by an advocate is impartial and an advocate cannot give you their opinion, make judgements or decisions on your behalf.
What types of Advocacy are there?
1. Non-instructed Advocacy
“Non-instructed advocacy is taking affirmative action with or on behalf of a person who is unable to give a clear indication of their views or wishes in a specific situation. The non-instructed advocate seeks to uphold the person’s rights; ensure fair and equal treatment and access to services; and make certain that decisions are taken with due consideration for their unique preferences and perspectives” Action for Advocacy 2006
People who experience difficulties in communication have a right to be represented in decisions that affect their lives. Although not directly instructed by the client, the non-instructed advocate serves to protect the principles underpinning ordinary living which assumes that every person has a right to a quality life.
2. Care Act Advocacy
Care Act Advocacy supports anyone who needs their support, including carers and young carers, through any stage of a care assessment, support plan and/or review (including safeguarding). Care Act Advocacy also includes Prison Advocacy, which ensures that prisoners’ rights are protected. You can find out more about the Care Act and what this could mean to you here.
3. Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)
IMCA is a new type of statutory advocacy introduced by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (the Act). The Act gives some people who lack capacity a right to receive support from an IMCA.
The majority of service users who access the IMCA service are people with significant barriers to communication such as learning disabilities, dementia, mental health problems and other forms of cognitive & impairment. IMCAs also act when people have a temporary lack of capacity because they are unconscious or due to an accident, being under anaesthetic or as a result of other conditions.
4. Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
IMHA is available to support people facing decisions such as their treatments, medication or being detained under the Mental Health Act. An Advocate will provide one-to-one support from someone specialist knowledge of the Mental Health Act and this support is available in either a hospital or community setting, wherever you feel most comfortable.
5. Preventative Advocacy
Preventative advocacy is short-term issue-based and outcome focused, available to people at risk or facing stigma, and who access support for mental health issues, access substance misuse treatment, have a long-term condition or diagnosis, live with HIV or have care and support needs that would deteriorate without support.
Where can I find an advocate?
Advocacy services are available across the country and contacting your local council is the best place to start your search. If you have a Care Coordinator from your local social services, healthcare or homecare team, they will be able to help you seek independent advocacy. Please call your Care Manager in confidence to seek advocacy support.
Our managed services are based in Surrey and our local advocates are Advocacy in Surrey – a partnership of independent organisations who provide a range of statutory and discretionary Advocacy support.
Advocacy in Surrey is a partnership of SDPP and Matrix, who work closely with five key partner organisations to ensure that you receive specialist support. These key partners are:
- KAG Advocacy – advocacy for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and autism
- AgeUK, Surrey – advocacy for older people
- Deaf Plus – advocacy for the hard-of-hearing community
- Sight for Surrey – advocacy for people with visual impairment Surrey Supported Employment – advocacy to provide supported employment opportunities, for people with learning disability or mental health needs.
All information is available in alternative formats, on request (for example, large print, readable formats, braille etc.).