This revised Guidance aims to capture the many developments since the publication of the original Guide to Commissioners in 2001 by the then Scottish Executive Health Department and the subsequent revision and publication by the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance ( SIAA) in 2010. Importantly it seeks to clarify Commissioners' statutory responsibilities under the Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.
The Scottish Government recognises the important role advocacy plays in helping to safeguard people who may be at risk of being treated unfairly as a result of individual, social, and environmental circumstances that make them vulnerable. Advocacy helps ensure people's rights are not infringed and makes it easier for them to exercise those rights.
Of course we all have the right to be involved in decisions about our care and treatment and for most of us this will not be an issue as we know we can effectively convey our views. However, even the most confident among us may find ourselves in a situation at some point in our lives where we need support to ensure our voice is heard and our views are taken into account in decisions or actions that affect our lives. Advocacy should therefore be available to anyone who needs it.
Advocacy should provide an environment in which people can confidently raise issues knowing that it is as free from conflicts of interest as it can be. Commissioners should therefore ensure that the Principles and Standards set out in Appendix 1 are applied in the commissioning of independent advocacy services. Whilst it is acknowledged that not all non-independent advocacy providers will be in a position to meet the Standards in Appendix 1, Commissioners are encouraged to also apply the four core Principles where appropriate and possible in the commissioning of non-independent advocacy services.
Lastly I would like to say a personal 'thank you' to Jo McFarlane for allowing us to use some of her poems from AWOL (Absent without Leave Invisible When Here) to demonstrate how important advocacy is and how it can improve an individual's quality of life.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
Email: Sandra Falconer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House