We are really pleased to be celebrating the third annual Advocacy Awareness Week, running from 26th to 30th October 2020.
The theme this year is 'partnerships' - so each day we will be exploring the different partnerships that are formed within advocacy.
We will be adding blogs and videos to our page here, but most of the activity will be taking place on social media - why not like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cloverleafadvocacy, or follow us on Twitter @cloverleafadvoc.
Becoming an Advocate
By Jayne Green, Cloverleaf Advocate, East Riding of Yorkshire
Ever since my teens, I’ve never really known what I’ve wanted to do job wise. I think it’s easy if you do. You set a path, study hard, reach your goals and suddenly – hey presto - you’re there, doing it. I’ve always envied people who know what they want to do and, even though I’ve had some really interesting jobs, at 48, I was becoming a bit bored and still questioning where I was going career wise. Not quite a mid-life crisis, but definitely in that ball park. Which is when I started thinking of becoming an advocate.
I’ve had personal experience of advocating for others and I passionately believe it’s essential that everyone has a voice, but what makes a good advocate and how does one go about becoming one? I first became aware of advocacy services some time ago and decided that with a background in helping people and making things happen, I’d be a pretty good advocate, but where does one start?
How to Become an Advocate
I couldn’t find any advocacy courses at my local college and the careers advisor at the job centre thought I wanted to become a wig wearing Barrister - so no joy there. Yosser Hughes style (for those old enough to remember), I hit the phones and did my own research. This mostly consisted of me randomly googling advocacy providers and seeing who would be prepared to point me in the right direction. Surprisingly, people were lovely and happy to talk to me.
I spoke to charities, health workers, social workers and a range of mental health campaigners. It became quickly apparent that I whilst I had some transferable skills, gaining frontline advocacy experience was the key. So - a chicken and egg situation. How do I get that frontline experience and persuade someone to give me a chance if I can’t even meet the essential criteria and get selected for interview? For me the answer was voluntary work. After six months, I finally got that elusive interview. I was determined that the job was going to be mine. It was and I’m now an advocate at Cloverleaf.
Where Am I Now?
One year on and it’s finally beginning to make sense. I’ve shadowed colleagues and learnt on the job. No question is stupid and I feel that I’m actually doing some good work with my clients and adding real value to people’s lives. There’s still a lot I don’t know. But, personally, I don’t think you ever stop learning and there’s always someone to ask. A career in advocacy is fascinating, challenging, occasionally upsetting, but so, so satisfying. I actually look forward to starting to work.
One thing I’ve learnt is that actually there isn’t a typical path into advocacy. My colleagues come from such a diverse background that it’s impossible to group us all together. Except to say we’re all inquisitive with shared values and ethics. Apart from that - we’re a pretty rag tag bunch of people with the common purpose of making sure that everyone has a voice and it’s our job to make sure it’s heard. If you’re reading this thinking ‘Ooooh that sounds good’ – do it, get on the phone and volunteer. I did and I’ve not looked back.
Interested in working for Cloverleaf as an advocate? We’re currently recruiting for a Statutory Advocate in North Yorkshire as well as for other roles across our organisation. Visit https://www.cloverleaf-advocacy.co.uk/jobs to find out more.