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CONSULTATION ON INDEPENDENT ADVOCACY – GUIDE FOR COMMISSIONERS

Advocacy has an important role to play in supporting people to express their views. This consultation seeks view on a revision to the Guide for Commissioners last published in 2010. The Guide has been updated to reflect Commissioner's statutory responsibilities for the provision of independent advocacy.


2. Different Models of Advocacy

2.1 The aim of all models of advocacy is to help individuals gain increased confidence and assertiveness so that, where possible, they will feel able to self-advocate when the need arises. The different models are:

2.1.1 One to one or individual advocacy

2.1.1.1 This includes professional or issue based advocacy. It can be provided by both paid and unpaid advocates. An advocate supports an individual to represent their own interests or represents the views of an individual if the person is unable to do this themselves. They provide support on specific issues and provide information but not advice. This support can be short or long term.

2.1.1.2 Another model of one to one advocacy is citizen advocacy. Citizen advocacy happens when ordinary citizens are encouraged to become involved with a person who might need support in their communities. The citizen advocate is not paid and not motivated by personal gain. The relationship between the citizen advocate and their advocacy partner is on a one-to-one, long term basis. It is based on trust between the partner and the advocate and is supported but not influenced by the advocacy organisation. The advocate supports their partner using their natural skills and talents rather than being trained in the role.

2.1.1.3 Peer advocacy is also individual advocacy. Peer advocates share significant life experiences with the advocacy partner. The peer advocate and their advocacy partner may share age, gender, ethnicity, diagnosis or issues. Peer advocates use their own experiences to understand and have empathy with their advocacy partner. Peer advocacy works to increase self-awareness, confidence and assertiveness so that the individual can speak out for themselves, lessening the imbalance of power between the advocate and their advocacy partner.

2.1.2 Group or Collective advocacy

2.1.2.1 Collective Advocacy enables a peer group of people, as well as a wider community with shared interests, to represent their views, preferences and experiences. A collective voice can help reduce an individual's sense of isolation when raising a difficult issue. A collective voice can be stronger than that of individuals when campaigning and can help policy makers, strategic planners and service providers know what is working well, where gaps are and how best to target resources. Being part of a collective advocacy group can help to reduce an individual's sense of isolation when raising a difficult issue. Groups can benefit from the support of resources and skilled help from an independent advocacy organisation.

2.2 Commissioners may find it helpful to refer to A Voice Through Choice - a book of stories about independent advocacy and A Voice to Trust on DVD. Both are available from the SIAA and will help commissioners gain an insight into how advocacy can improve an individual's quality of life and provide a better understanding of how the different types of advocacy work in practice.

Contact

Email: Sandra Falconer

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