What is Independent Advocacy?

Independent Advocacy is a way to help people have a stronger voice and to have as much control as possible over their own lives.

Independent Advocacy is:

  • Standing alongside people who are marginalised in our society.
  • Speaking on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves.
  • Standing up for and sticking by a person or group and taking their side.
  • Listening to someone and hearing their point of view.
  • Helping people to feel valued.
  • Understanding people’s situations and what may be stopping them from getting what they want or need.
  • Offering the person support to tell other people what they want or need, or introducing them to others who may be able to help.
  • Helping people to know and understand 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.
  • A process of working towards natural justice

Independent Advocacy is not:

  • Providing general advice.
  • Making decisions for someone.
  • Help filling in forms.
  • Mediation.
  • Counselling.
  • Befriending.
  • Care and support work.
  • Consultation.
  • 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 do it for themselves.
  • Agreeing with everything a person says and doing anything a person asks you to do.

Independent Advocacy organisations are separate from organisations that provide other types of services. They provide ONLY advocacy.  This frees them from conflicts of interest.

The independent advocate is there to help individuals or groups get the information they need so they can make real choices about their circumstances. The independent advocate supports individuals or groups to put their choices and wishes across to others and may speak on behalf of an individual or group who are unable to do so for themselves.

The four over-riding principles of Independent Advocacy are:

  • Independent Advocacy puts the people who use it first.
  • Independent Advocacy is accountable.
  • Independent Advocacy is as free as it can be from conflicts of interest.
  • Independent Advocacy is accessible.

(You can read more about these on the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance website)

The main themes of advocacy are:

  • Safeguarding people who are vulnerable and discriminated against or whom services find difficult to serve.
  • Enabling people who need a stronger voice by helping them to express their own needs and make their own decisions.
  • Enabling people to gain access to information, explore and understand their options, and to make their views and wishes known.
  • Speaking on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves.

There are a number of models of Independent Advocacy. These are:

  • Independent Professional Advocacy
  • Citizen Advocacy
  • Collective/Group Advocacy
  • Self Advocacy
  • Peer Advocacy

Independent Advocacy safeguards people; who are vulnerable and discriminated against; or whom services find difficult to serve. It enables people who need a stronger voice by helping them to express their own needs and make their own decisions.

Last Reviewed: 18/12/2012