Sometimes it helps to have someone else who can speak on your behalf and represent your interests, especially in formal situations or when you don’t feel very confident. A person who speaks on your behalf in this way is often called an ‘advocate’.
Advocates can help you get your views or wishes across about the issues which are important to you, such as the care or medical treatment which you receive, or the management of your finances.
Who can be an advocate
Advocacy doesn’t always have to be provided by paid professionals. Often people take a friend or family member with them to important meetings with doctors, social workers or other professionals, to give them moral support and to speak up on their behalf.
If you do have a legal right to an advocate then the person who acts as your advocate could be a relative or friend whom you are happy to have supporting you to speak – this person is known as an ‘appropriate individual’.
But the following people should not be considered by your council as an ‘appropriate individual’
- Someone who you do not want to support you
- Someone who is providing care or treatment to you on a professional or paid basis
- Someone who is unlikely to be able to, or available to, properly support you to express your views
- Someone who has previously been found to have abused or neglected you, or has previously failed to stop other people abusing or neglecting you
Alternatively there are organisations that can arrange for a professional advocate to be with you at a meeting, or to contact someone on your behalf. A professional advocate will know about your rights, and about the options which should be made available to you, and will make sure that your views are properly heard.
Advocacy for children in care
For children in care or involved in child protection proceedings advocacy is provided by Route1 Advocacy, for those using adult social care with no access to suitable friends or family as advocates an advocacy service is provided by SWAN Advocacy. You can find out more about finding your own advocate on the Mind website.
Coram Voice champions the rights of children in care. We get young voices heard in decisions that matter to them and work to improve the lives of children in care, care leavers and others who depend upon the help of the state.