Factsheet: Advocacy

This factsheet is available in a downloadable PDF here.

Table of Contents

What is Advocacy?
Independent Advocacy
Collective Advocacy
The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Scotland) Act 2003
Local Independent Advocacy Organisations

What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is a way to help people have more influence and as much control as possible over their own lives. Throughout our life, we can all face overwhelming and difficult situations where we feel that we are not being heard and unable to get our point across. We may feel like we are not being included in decisions that affect us and that no-one is taking us seriously. At times like these, we may feel that we would like to have someone stand alongside us.

Some of us may have family and friends that can be there for us at times like these, but others do not. Or, we may feel that family and friends are too close to the situation to be objective. Individual advocacy can stand alongside you at such times. It can help you to speak up for yourself and to ensure your views are listened to.

Your advocate will work on a one-to-one basis with you. They will listen to what you have to say, discuss your options and how they may be able to help. Your advocate will not advise you on what to do, but will ensure you have the information you need to know your rights and make informed decisions and then support you to deal with the issue(s). Advocacy is never judgemental and Advocacy will only act on your behalf if they have your instruction and permission to do so.

Advocacy is not a befriending, mediation or counselling service. Advocates do not provide practical support. Everyone will be treated with respect and with full confidentiality (exceptions to this policy are allowed if we feel that you or any other person is at risk of serious harm). Whilst it cannot always guarantee the outcome you would hope for, it will ensure you are listened to.

Advocacy can support people with meetings and appointments and communicate on your behalf or help you to communicate with others. You may feel you need support with:

  • Understanding your rights if you are detained in Hospital.
  • Attending medical appointments or reviews
  • Speaking to people involved in your care and treatment
  • Help to find information about and help to access services
  • Financial matters
  • Attending appointments for housing, criminal etc.
  • Helping you know your rights

Independent Advocacy

Independent Advocacy is “Independent” because when the organisations only provide Advocacy – they do not do anything else. Independent Advocates and Advocacy groups do not work for hospitals, social work services or any voluntary organisations that provide social care or support services; this ensures that there is no conflict of interests.

Collective Advocacy

Collective Advocacy is about people with similar experiences getting together to try to change things for the better. For example, it can enable people to have an influence on what kinds of services are available. By making use of their shared experiences, they can have a much stronger voice and be more influential than they can as individuals

The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003

The Act gives people who experience mental health difficulties the right to access independent advocacy services. This applies to both individual and collective advocacy.

Local Independent Advocacy Organisations

CAPS Independent Advocacy supports people who use, or have used mental health services.

Advocard works with people who have experience of mental ill health or difficulties such as anxiety and depression through to people who have long-term severe mental illness. They also provide advocacy for Prisoners in the Scottish Prison Service.

EARS Advocacy can provide advocacy for people in Edinburgh who have survived a stroke.

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