What is advocacy?
Advocacy is when you get support to have your say by someone speaking on your behalf to ensure that your voice is heard, your rights are protected and your views and wishes are considered when decisions are being made.
Advocacy can be helpful in situations where you find it difficult to make your views known and/or need other people to listen to you and take your views into account.
What does an advocate do?
An advocate is someone who provides advocacy support when you need it. The kinds of help they might give could include:
- Helping you to access the information you need
- Going with you to meetings or interviews, in a supportive role
- Writing letters on your behalf
- Speaking for you in situations where you don’t feel able to speak for yourself.
Who can act as an advocate?
You may decide that you want to self-advocate. This means that you want to stand up for yourself and tell others about your views and wishes. But if you don’t feel able to do this, you may want someone to act as an advocate on your behalf.
Anyone can act as an advocate, for example a family member, a friend, a professional who is working with you, a volunteer from a charity or a person who is specially trained to act as an advocate.
The important thing is that an advocate must be willing and able to represent your wishes on your behalf, even if they have a differing opinion. An advocate must respect that you are the expert on your life and act on your views and wishes.
Which organisations provide advocacy in Norfolk?
Community Action Norfolk
Community Action Norfolk is an independent charity, which long term focus is to build a stronger, fairer Norfolk. Among other things, the charity provides health advocacy in Norfolk through the NHS Complaints Advocacy Service which is free, confidential and independent.
Coram Voice enables and equips children and young people to hold to account the services that are responsible for their care. They work to uphold the rights of children and young people to actively participate in shaping their own lives. They have trained staff called advocates who can can help if you are having problems in care or living away from home. There is a Norfolk office based in Aylsham.
Deaf Connexions has an advocacy service for Deaf people in Norwich and East Norfolk, based in the Deaf Centre in Norwich. If you are Deaf and a British Sign Language user who needs help with letters, bills, benefits or information that you do not understand and English is not your first language or you need some support or advice, a Deaf advocate can help you.
Equal Lives provides specialist advocacy support. Their website has more information about the advocacy support they provide.
Opening Doors is a group run by people with learning disabilities for people with learning disabilities. They can give training, advice and support with self-advocacy.
POhWER delivers information, advice, support and advocacy services throughout England. We aim to support people who face difficult issues and want to make their voice heard. Find out about POhWER services in Norfolk.