Advocacy

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Our advocates have been supporting people since 1996. An advocate might be able to help you.

Our office is open 9 – 5 Monday to Friday. Outside these hours there is an answer phone. Our advocates work flexibly, sometimes outside office hours. Our service is free and confidential.

At the moment we provide 2 kinds of advocacy:’ representational advocacy’ and ‘Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy’ (IMCA). Click here to find out who our Advocacy project can help, and where we work Advocacy in your area.

IMCA

Some people who lack the understanding to make particular decisions may be entitled to the support of an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate.

How can an advocate help?

An advocate will listen to you, find out what you want, and support you. They can help you to speak up, and they can speak up for you.

An advocate can give you information and support to help you:

  • Know about your rights
  • Get the information you need
  • Think about making a decision or choice
  • Speak up for yourself
  • Make a complaint
  • Tell other people what you want to happen

An advocate can represent you. This means they will speak up for you, at meetings, or by phone or letter.

Why might I want an advocate?

People get an advocate to help them with all kinds of things. These are some of the times they might help.

  • When you need help to have have your say
  • When you need help to get people to listen to you
  • When you need help to be treated fairly
  • When you need help to protect your rights
  • When you want more control over your money
  • When you are moving from one home to another
  • When you want to be more independent
  • When you are not being treated well
  • When you need help to understand something which affects your rights – this could be about money, the law, housing, making a will, and lots more

How to get an advocate

You can get in touch by phone, email, letter or fax. You can ask for an advocate for yourself, or for someone you care for: a family member or someone you care for in a professional capacity.

How our advocates work

The advocates at Skills for People adhere to The Advocacy Code of Practice and The Advocacy Charter; for further information go to www.actionforadvocacy.org.uk

At the beginning

The advocate will meet with the person to be supported, and

  • Explain the job of the advocate
  • Explain our policies relating to Confidentiality and Complaints
  • Help the service user to explore their concerns, identify and agree how the advocate will help them

What next?

The advocate will

  • Carry out the agreed actions – these might include attend meetings with the person, writing, phoning or emails with the person and others, supporting a person through formal procedures, such as making a complaint.
  • Update the service user regularly
  • Review progress with the service user regularly, and record in writing

At the end

  • The advocate and service user will agree when an advocate’s involvement should end.
  • The advocate will ask review the work carried out, with the service user and record in writing the views of the service user and of the advocates. Others involved may be asked for their views which will also be recorded.
  • The advocate will close the case, and write to the service user to confirm this Instructed and non‐instructed advocacy

In most cases the advocate is working according to the ‘instructions’ of the service user, only taking action with the service user’s consent. However, not everyone can instruct an advocate. Some people lack the ability to ask for the help of an advocate, and for some people, it is difficult to make thier views known.

Our advocates can provide ‘Non‐instructed advocacy’ for is advocacy for a person who is not able to seek the support of an advocate but would probably benefit from advocacy support; and where a person finds it difficult to tell the advocate what they want’. The advocate will establish, as far as possible, an understanding of clients’ needs, wishes, preferences and priorities, in order to represent their interests. This may mean spending time alongside the person, and consulting family, friends, carers and others who know the person well. Sometimes people’s ability to instruct an advocate will vary; as will their ability to make their views known to others. The advocate will try to make sure each service user has as much control as possible over issues affecting their life. In these situations, an advocate many not have direct permission for their work from the person they are supported, and will often have taken a referral from a third party. They will always try to ensure, as a minimum, that the client is content with their presence when they visit.

Confidentiality

Our advocates work to high standards of confidentiality. Our policy sets out how Skills for People staff must deal with confidential information. Contact us if you want a copy of our Confidentiality Policy. Each advocate will explain the policy relating to each service user as far as possible.