Many people can find it difficult at times for their voice to be heard when actions or decisions are being taken that affect their lives or the lives of their children. Some people in society are much more likely than others to be treated badly, either because of structural barriers, inequality, discrimination and prejudice or because of their own vulnerability, or a combination of factors.
The characteristics which may mean that people are at risk include the protected characteristics as identified by the Equality Act (2010). These are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
Other factors that will also have an impact on a person include socio economic background, personal capacity, adverse childhood experiences, reputation, dislocation, abuse, family breakdown and social isolation. Some people have to rely on powerful service systems for help with all aspects of their life including housing, personal assistance, decision-making, income, occupation and mobility. Institutions and support services can affect every aspect of someone’s life (potentially with long term consequences), particularly when people have been immersed in the service system since childhood, and when they have no strong allies outside. For some people, their family can be part of the problem.
Independent advocacy is about broadening horizons and widening the options that people have. It is about speaking up if you notice that something is wrong. Sometimes people tolerate things in their lives because they don’t know they can be changed. Independent advocacy can help them address this.
Service systems are not and will never be perfect. Individuals who rely on these systems often have limited personal power and resources to argue their case. This is especially true for people who do not use words to communicate, for children and young people, for people who cannot read or write in the language of the system, for people who have been labelled with a negative reputation, and for people who are disabled or with capacity issues.
We have trained Advocates who can support in many different situations and ensure you know your right. We also ensure you obtain the right advice at the right time. This could be legal advice when you need it.
Our advocates are fully DBS checked and receive regular training. They also have a safeguarding responsibility at all times.