About advocacy

Advocacy is about your voice being heard. Advocates support you to speak up, or they might speak up on your behalf if needed.

An advocate can help you to:

  • Understand what your rights are.
  • Look at information about how different processes work e.g. legal, health or social services.
  • Look at any local services or community opportunities that might be useful for you.
  • Understand what choices you have and help you to make your own decision.
  • Tell people what you want.

Our advocacy promises to you

We are independent. We will always work for you.

We will be professional, courteous, and respectful.

We will communicate with you in a way that you can understand.

We will be clear about what we can and cannot do to support you.

We will be clear about who will be supporting you and how you can contact them.

We will respect your confidentiality unless we think you or someone else might be in danger. Then we will have to tell someone. If this happens, we will support you to understand why we had to tell someone.

We will keep information we hold about you safe. You can ask to see it.

We will support you to make a plan on how we will work on your issue.

We will support you to make your own decisions; we will not tell you what to do or make decisions for you.

Where possible, we will support you to find ways that you can help yourself in the future.

We will ask people who use our service, how we can improve the service and the information we provide. We will tell you how we are trying to make our service better for the future.

If you are unhappy with the work that we are doing with you, you can complain. We will ensure you know how to make a complaint about our services.

We ask:

That you treat VoiceAbility team members with respect.

That you tell us if you need to cancel a meeting as soon as possible.

Advocacy promotes social inclusion, equality and social justice. It takes action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the services they need.

Advocacy Charter 2002, Action for Advocacy

Types of Advocacy

There are lots of different types of advocacy and sometimes it can be difficult to understand what type you need. There is a page on each of the main types that we offer but the summaries below might help you choose which would be most likely to be right for you.

If you have been assessed as ‘lacking capacity’ to make specific decisions about yourself, particularly your care or long term accommodation, you could get support from an IMCA. This page gives information about who can get support from an IMCA, who can act as an ‘appropriate adult’ and what that means. It also provides information about DoLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards), the role of an IMCA and how it differs from other advocacy roles.

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If you are being detained under the Mental Health Act, you are legally entitled to help and support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate. This page gives information about who can get support from an IMHA and the different eligibility criteria. You can find out how an IMHA can support you and download some useful self-help tools.

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Do you need help to be involved in decisions about your care needs? An advocate can help you be heard, understand your choices and make your own decisions. Find out about how an advocate can help you, and who advocates can work with. This page also gives information about the role of an appropriate individual and provides additional resources from the Department of Health.

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Do you want to make a complaint about a service you or someone you know have received from the NHS but are not sure where to start? VoiceAbility advocates can work with you in a variety of ways to ensure you understand your options and get the best outcome for you. We also have a dedicated website which has a wide range of information to support you make a complaint.

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This is any advocacy that is not a legal right. Community Advocacy can be delivered by professional advocates, or in some areas by citizen or peer advocates. You can find out about how and when an advocate could work with you and the difference they can make. 

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Many services, including care homes, residential services and assisted living schemes offer access to advocacy. VoiceAbility provide advocacy services in many private care services across England. Find out what we offer and whether we offer it in a service that you use.

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For some people in ATUs, advocacy could help them move to more suitable accommodation.

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Self advocacy is about taking control of decisions about yourself and telling others what you want. This is part of our advocacy work; to support you to self advocate. We also run self-advocacy groups where you can meet people like you and work to resolve the issues that you all face.

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Within VoiceAbility, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Wherever possible, we try to harness that knowledge and create tools that others can use.

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Below is a list of commonly used social care terms that we feel sometimes need a little more explanation. 

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