Guidance for Unpaid Carer Advocacy in Scotland

This document, endorsed by Scottish Government and COSLA provides guidance for advocacy professionals who are interested in or are currently undertaking advocacy work with unpaid carers in Scotland.

Appendix 2: Different types of advocacy

Different types of advocacy

Principle 1: Independent advocacy puts the people who use it first

Principle 4: Independent advocacy is accessible

This document provides guidance for the delivery of advocacy for carers. There is no best model of advocacy for carers, no 'one size fits all'. The most appropriate model for any carer is likely to depend on the carer's preferences, circumstances and situation and this may vary from time to time. In practice advocacy models available for carers will depend on what provision there is in their area. General guidance for advocacy providers on the delivery of one-to-one and collective advocacy can be found in the SIAA Code of Practice for Independent Advocacy.

Independent Advocacy

Independent advocacy is structurally, financially and psychologically separate from the agencies providing services for the carer. Such independence helps to ensure that there is no possibility of any conflict of interest arising in relation to any other services accessed by the individual carer.

Advocacy delivered by wider support organisations

Advocacy is also sometimes provided to carers as part of wider support offered by condition-specific organisations that are supporting them or the person being cared for. This is not independent advocacy as it is part of more general support. However it is nevertheless valued by carers where they are comfortable with the staff and where this may be the only advocacy accessible to them.

Advocacy provided through carers centres

Some, though not all carers centres have a dedicated advocacy project where carers can be referred if they need support in resolving issues with services. While this is not independent advocacy, efforts are made to keep the advocacy separate from wider services provided by the centre. Some centres that do not have an advocacy project may still offer support to a carer in voicing their concerns about a particular issue.

One to one or individual advocacy

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.

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 advocacy partner and the advocate and is supported but not influenced by the advocacy organisation. The advocate supports the person receiving advocacy using their natural skills and talents rather than being trained in the role.

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.

Group or collective advocacy

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 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 advocacy organisation.


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. It is important to remember that, while carers may feel able to self-advocate in certain situations, in others they may wish to be supported by an advocate.

Carers self-advocacy is about the carer speaking up for themselves, making choices and being independent. Where any advocacy is provided, moving towards carer empowerment is seen as a key goal.

Self-advocacy can be done via one-to-one work with an advocate, who enables the carer to learn techniques around assertiveness, effective communication and negotiation or via written materials or group training sessions. Self-advocacy learning can also include an exploration of self-awareness and how to optimise coping strategies in difficult situations. A carer with self-advocacy skills will be able to understand or challenge, if necessary, the language of professionals and be able to be more prepared for interactions with services.

Self help resources can be a useful tool to enable carers to have their own voices heard carers to get their own voices heard.

5 Resources to help carers self-advocate are being developed as part of the Scottish Government's carer policies. The resources will help carers get their own voices heard with systems and services and also provide tools for personal coping strategies and self confidence' . Contact Carers Scotland for more details at


Email: Peggy Winford

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