About Advocacy

Many people today do not know what the term ‘advocacy’ means or understand what advocacy does or can do for them.

The (then) Scottish Executive described advocacy as:

“Standing up for and sticking with a group, taking their side, helping them to get their point across. Advocacy adds weight to peoples’ views, concerns, rights and aspirations.”

(‘Independent Advocacy: A Guide for Commissioners’)

They also talked of advocacy as having two main themes:

  • Safeguarding individuals who are in situations where they are vulnerable and
  • Speaking up for and with people who are not being heard, helping them to express their own views and make their own decisions

Our Definition: What Advocacy is
We would agree with the above definition.  In practical terms advocacy means that we will help you to have you voice heard and be listened to by other, perhaps more powerful people. We help you to understand decisions that have been made and to challenge those decisions if you don’t agree.

We will act on your instruction only. This means we will only do something if you say that’s what you want to happen. If you’re not sure about what you want to do then we can help you look at the options available to you.

We will work at your pace and in a way that you understand or prefer. We will do as little or as much as you need. Sometimes just being with you is enough to give you the confidence to ask questions or to speak up and challenge or to accept a decision.

What advocacy is not
For us, advocacy is not about encouraging someone to take certain actions or make certain decisions. It’s not about us taking those actions or making those decisions without your consent.

Advocacy is not about us befriending you or advising you or informing you or practically supporting you. There are elements of all of the above involved in advocacy work but they should never be the focus or main purpose of the work. The focus should be working with you to achieve what you want to achieve by whatever means that most suit you.

Can advocacy work miracles and always solve problems?
No is the short answer! We can’t guarantee an outcome that you will be happy with. All we can do is work with you to make sure that your views are taken account of and your voice is heard. We can act as a witness which is often very useful in making sure that people treat you properly and making sure you get the treatment you deserve.

Different types of advocacy
There are different models of advocacy that use different approaches and are aimed at different people. Visit the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA) website to learn more about these different models. AdvoCard provides both individual advocacy and collective advocacy services.