What is an advocate?
An advocate is someone who supports you when you need to speak up and have your voice heard.
An advocate can help you to understand your rights, and make sure they are upheld.
An advocate can help you access information about your options or choices.
An advocate can also support you at meetings and assessments.
They can also help you to understand social care and health processes (for example what an assessment will include, what happens in safeguarding).
|You may want your advocate to speak for you in situations where you don't feel able to speak for yourself, or to write letters on your behalf.|
|An advocate will help you to explore your options and have your say, so that you are at the centre of decisions that affect your life.|
Independent Advocates are not part of social services or the NHS, and not part of your family or one of your friends. They learn about what is important to you by listening to you (or sometimes to the people who you know and trust).
Advocates will not judge you or give you their personal opinion. We believe that you are the expert on your life and what you want and need, so our advocates will help you to communicate that to other people.
Unless you tell us about something that could involve risks to you or others, or involves breaking the law (and in other limited circumstances), we will not pass on what you tell us without your permission.
Legal right to an advocate
You have a statutory (legal) right to advocacy in some circumstances if you meet the criteria. This is known as “statutory advocacy”. For example:
- An NHS Complaints Advocate can help you if you want to make a complaint about an NHS funded service you have used (for example a GP, hospital, dentist)
- A Care Act (2014) Advocate will support you if you have substantial difficulty, and no one else who you want to support you during assessments or reviews for services from your Local Authority.
- An Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) can support you if you are detained or restricted under some parts of the Mental Health Act (1983)
- An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) will support you if you are unable to make certain decisions (for example where you live, or about serious medical treatment) and do not have anyone else who can support you
Please visit our Know the law page to find out more about how the laws (Acts) mentioned, and Our Services page to see how we can help you or someone that you know. If you’re not sure which type of advocate can help, please contact us
We offer lots of opportunities to help you build skills to have the confidence to speak up for yourself. This is often known as self-advocacy. This could be in a group, where you share thoughts and experiences and take joint action to help you achieve what you want. Sometimes - just by meeting, talking and speaking up - you may feel included and more valued. Other times you can change things by taking part and agreeing to take action together.
Self-advocacy can help you:
- gain confidence
- speak up
- work together
- develop new skills
- make a difference
You have a right to join in, to have a voice, to be heard and to be listened to. You have a right to be involved in decisions that affect your life, to plan your own life and to be included in your local community.
You can see how we work with self-advocates here: Self-advocacy
Advocates can also support carers in relation to the following:
- The Carers Assessment process (including accessing assessments).
- Understanding carers' rights.
- Raising concerns or making complaints about health and social care services.
- Carers becoming more central to decision-making about care packages and assessments for the person they care for.
- Other issues that may arise as a result of the caring role e.g. respite services, benefits, housing, etc.