Advocacy is about your voice being heard. Advocates support you to speak up, or they might speak up on your behalf if needed.
An advocate can help you to:
- Understand what your rights are.
- Look at information about how different processes work e.g. legal, health or social services.
- Look at any local services or community opportunities that might be useful for you.
- Understand what choices you have and help you to make your own decision.
- Tell people what you want.
Your advocate will make sure that any information meets your own communication needs. We can also help your friends, family and carers to access and understand useful information.
Your advocate will work with you until your issue has been resolved and those around you understand what it is that you want or need.
Types of Advocacy
There are lots of different types of advocacy and sometimes it can be difficult to understand what type you need. There is a page on each of the main types that we offer but the summaries below might help you choose which would be most likely to be right for you.
If you have been assessed as ‘lacking capacity’ to make specific decisions about yourself, particularly your care or long term accommodation, you could get support from an IMCA. This page gives information about who can get support from an IMCA, who can act as an ‘appropriate adult’ and what that means. It also provides information about DoLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards), the role of an IMCA and how it differs from other advocacy roles.
If you are being detained under the Mental Health Act, you are legally entitled to help and support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate. This page gives information about who can get support from an IMHA and the different eligibility criteria. You can find out how an IMHA can support you and download some useful self-help tools.
Do you need help to be involved in decisions about your care needs? An advocate can help you be heard, understand your choices and make your own decisions. Find out about how an advocate can help you, and who advocates can work with. This page also gives information about the role of an appropriate individual and provides additional resources from the Department of Health.
Do you want to make a complaint about a service you or someone you know have received from the NHS but are not sure where to start? VoiceAbility advocates can work with you in a variety of ways to ensure you understand your options and get the best outcome for you. We also have a dedicated website which has a wide range of information to support you make a complaint.
Many services, including care homes, residential services and assisted living schemes offer access to advocacy. VoiceAbility provide advocacy services in many private care services across England. Find out what we offer and whether we offer it in a service that you use.
Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs) are often used as emergency care, usually when someone is sectioned under the Mental Health Act. This can happen when someone is in crisis and their existing community-based services or families are unable to cope. They are usually supposed to be short term facilities, used until they are able to return home, or an appropriate, supportive placement is found for them. Around 3,000 people with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition who are currently living in inpatient facilities such as ATUs and hospitals, awaiting such time as they can be found the right placement. For those people, it can be incredibly frustrating if it looks like the situation isn’t moving or that barriers are being thrown up that seem unassailable. The frustrations can cause them to behave in ways that challenge professionals and make a new placement even less certain. But ATUs are not usually conducive to people learning how to manage their lives and to better manage the things which can lead to a crisis. For some, advocacy could be the answer.
Self advocacy is about taking control of decisions about yourself and telling others what you want. This is part of our advocacy work; to support you to self advocate. We also run self-advocacy groups where you can meet people like you and work to resolve the issues that you all face.