Independent advocacy is a way to help people have a stronger voice and to have as much control as possible over their own lives. The independent advocate helps the person/group to get the information they need to make real choices about their circumstances and supports the person/group to put their choices across to others. An independent advocate may speak on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves but will not make decisions on behalf of the person/group they are supporting. Independent Advocacy organisations are separate from Mental Health Services.
Independent Advocates are available for all those being treated for mental health disorders and not just those under the Mental Health Act.
There is more information from the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA)
What Independent Advocacy is:
- About standing alongside people who are in danger of being pushed to the margins of society
- About standing up for and sticking with a person or group and taking their side
- A process of working towards natural justice
- Listening to someone and trying to understand their point of view
- Finding out what makes them feel good and valued
- Understanding their situation and what may be stopping them from getting what they want
- Offering the person support to tell other people what they want or introducing them to others who may be able to help
- Helping someone to know what choices they have and what the consequences of these choices might be
- Enabling a person to have control over their life but taking up issues on their behalf if they want you to.
What Independent Advocacy is not:
- Making decisions for someone
- Care and support work
- Telling or advising someone what you think they should do
- Solving all someone’s problems for them
- Speaking for people when they are able to express a view
- Filling all the gaps in someone’s life
- Acting in a way which benefits other people more than the person you are advocating for
- Agreeing with everything a person says and doing anything a person asks you to do
The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance have a useful resource to find a local advocate