Referrals come to us from different sources, including from professionals, family or friends, and individuals themselves. When we get a referral, one of our advocates will contact the person to introduce our service and explain what we can and can’t do. The first step is for the advocate to work with the person one-to-one to understand what they want to achieve. Together, they then create a plan by exploring different options and deciding who will do what.
Independence and confidentiality
Our advocates are independent from other organisations the person might be in contact with, and everything that’s discussed is kept confidential (unless something they share puts the person or others at risk; this is explained in the confidentiality policy). Independence and confidentiality are integral to building the trusting relationship which is at the heart of our work.
Empowering people to self-advocate
Our advocates always encourage the person to take the lead so they feel in control of the process.
At each step of the way, the advocate and individual review what has happened. As well as keeping the plan on track, this helps people reflect on skills and knowledge they’ve learnt. By the end of the process, they will have developed self-advocacy skills – consolidating learning, building confidence, and increasing independence.
Things we help with
Our advocates can:
- talk through problems or concerns, helping people to identify options and think about what they want
- explain information so people can make informed choices
- help plan for meetings and draft correspondence
- go with people to meetings (for example, meetings about their care and treatment)
- speak on behalf of the individual if they don’t feel able to do so themselves
- support people to comment or complain about the services they receive, and raise issues about things someone is unhappy with
- give information about legal rights and support people to access specialist help, such as solicitors or benefits advisers