THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP
Over the past year, AdvoCard, along with SIAA, DAS, The Health and Social Care Alliance (ALLIANCE) and the Scottish Council for Voluntary organisations (SCVO) have been engaging with people who use our services, other organisations in the Third Sector, MSPs and the Minister for Social Security to raise awareness of the need for access to advocacy services for everyone who will have cause to access the new system.
Although initially resistant, thanks to all our continued efforts, the Government are now aware of the role that advocacy can play and the need to have access to advocacy services included in the Bill.
At the Stage 1 debate the Social Security Committee recommended that the Scottish Government consider including access to independent advocacy as a principle of the Social Security Bill and as a right in the legislation. Unfortunately this was not acted upon. However, Stage 2 saw further developments as the minister tabled her own amendment to the bill providing a right to access to independent advocacy services for people with mental illness, personality disorder or a learning disability as defined under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2003. It was made clear at this point that this would be a starting point and that the aim was to widen access at Stage 3 after consultation with stakeholders.
This has now taken place and the Minister replaced the initial amendment with her new amendment at the stage 3 debate. This amendment states that every individual who, owing to a disability, requires an advocates help, will have the right to access independent advocacy services for support to engage with the new social security system.
This means that everyone who self identifies as having a disability due to a physical condition, long term health condition, mental health condition, learning disability or any other reason will have a right to access independent advocacy services if they need support to engage with the new Social Security system in Scotland.
While this is not the universal access we would have like to have seen this is a huge step forward for people who need help accessing social security and could not have been achieved without your support. Thank you to all who took the time to engage with our campaign over the past year and who emailed their MSP asking for support.
We will continue to engage with the Scottish Government around the provision of the advocacy services. Keep an eye on our facebook page for updates on this.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
As you know, AdvoCard have been working with SIAA, DAS, SCVO and the Alliance to push for a universal right to access Independent Advocacy for everyone who will have to access the new Scottish Social Security entitlements.
The Bill is almost in its final stage, stage three will be debated on 25th April, and we need your help to raise awareness and ask your MSP to vote for our amendment.
To email you MSP and ask him/her to vote for our amendment. Click here –
Fill in your name, email address and post code and then chose your constituent MSP from the drop down list – this will also send an email to all of your regional MSP.
Help make sure that everyone who has to access the new benefits system will receive the support they need when they need it.
The Disabillity Benefits Consortium are conducting a major two part piece of research to explore the impact of welfare reform on disabled people’s lives. The first part is qualitative, interview-based research, which we’ve commissioned the University of East Anglia and University of Glasgow to undertake.
The academics are looking for 50 disabled people, people with long-term conditions and mental health conditions, to be interviewed to discuss their experiences of claiming ESA, PIP or Universal Credit and the impact that’s had on their lives.
Participants will be reimbursed for their time with a non-cash voucher, interviews can be undertaken over the phone or in-person too (the research team are happy to travel to participants) and costs will be covered. We’re hoping to get all 50 participants in the coming weeks and months (but as soon as possible, really!)
Here is the February 2018 Newsletter/What’s On from Edinburgh Community Voices and AdvoCard:
We hope you find the Newsletter useful – it has lots of information about support group meetings and other events in Edinburgh. If we have included information about your project or event, please check that we have printed the correct information…and let us know if we need to change anything. You can also get in touch if there is anything you would like us to include on a regular basis or if you would like to write something for a future edition.
The next main Edinburgh Community Voices meeting will take place
- on Wednesday 7 February 2018
- between 2pm and 4pm
- at AdvoCard
- 332 Leith Walk, EH6 5BR
- free tea, coffee and biscuits and some good conversation
All welcome including Outlook Students and Redhall Trainees.
Edinburgh Community Voices meetings are open to anyone with lived experience of mental health issues. If you have not been to and Edinburgh Community Voices meeting before and would like to come along you can call or email to ask us about what we do at the meetings.
The next Cambridge Street Community Voices meeting will be on Wednesday 14 February between 2.00pm and 3.30pm at Cambridge Street House
Outlook Students – more news on the new Outlook Guidance Points; please see Page 2 of the attached Newsletter.
Patricia and Becky
Thanks to all who came to our Annual General Meeting last week and made it a great success. Here is our AGM report which was distributed on the day:
Here is AdvoCard’s response to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee consultation on the benefit assessment process.
Thank you to all who submitted your views.