What is advocacy?

Advocacy is one way of helping people who for various reasons find themselves on the margins of society, lacking the skills and confidence to speak up for their rights and entitlements and who have no-one else in their lives who will speak up for them.

We try to reach older people who are vulnerable and isolated and who have no-one else in their lives who can help them speak up or protect their rights and entitlements. They may live at home, in sheltered accommodation or in residential homes. Many are physically frail or experiencing difficulty communicating following a stroke or have dementia. These circumstances can lead to a greater isolation and increase the need for a strong, committed independent advocate.

Partnership

A person who an advocate helps is called a partner. This is because the advocacy relationship needs to be seen as a partnership where both people have equal value whatever their circumstance or disability.  Advocates need to help someone express their own views, opinions and decisions and avoid taking over and imposing advocate's own views and opinions. Even people who cannot communicate verbally can communicate through many different ways their likes, choices and preferences. An advocate needs patience to find these out.

Being independent

Most of our advocates are volunteers or ‘citizen advocates’ from the community who are independent of the agencies that provide services to older people. This means that advocates are free to speak on behalf of their partners and they do not have to worry about offending their employers or colleagues. They are free of 'conflict of interest'.