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Advocacy: someone to speak on your behalf

What is advocacy?

Advocacy services help people to:

  • access information and advice
  • make informed decisions about their life
  • get their voice heard on issues that are important to them
  • defend their rights and responsibilities

An advocate is a person who can support you and speak on your behalf if you want them to.

Why use an advocate?

Advocates are independent. They don't represent the views of others, such as your local authority or the NHS.

They won't make decisions for you or give you their personal opinion.

An advocate can:

  • contact people on your behalf
  • go to meetings with you to give you support
  • speak on your behalf when you don't feel comfortable speaking yourself
  • write letters and emails on your behalf

When to use an advocate

Advocates can be used in lots of situations. For example, they can help if you:

  • have a learning disability
  • have a mental health illness
  • need support to attend interviews about benefits
  • need help dealing with housing problems
  • want to complain about treatment or healthcare
  • are a victim of crime or antisocial behaviour

In certain situations you have a legal right to the following types of advocacy:

  • Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) which supports people who lack capacity to make certain decisions
  • Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) which supports people treated or assessed under the Mental Health Act
  • Independent Care Act Advocacy (ICAA) which supports people who are receiving or being assessed for care

Advocacy services in Essex

Essex County Council works with Rethink Mental Illness to provide an accessible all age advocacy service to residents in Essex. This is a single advocacy service providing all forms of statutory advocacy and also non-statutory advocacy to a wide range of people across the county. This includes the following:

Statutory Services:

  • Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)
  • Paid Relevant Person Representative (RPR)
  • Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
  • Independent Care Act Advocacy (ICAA)
  • Independent Health Complaints Advocacy (IHCA
  • Independent Advocacy for Children and Young People

Non-statutory services:

  • Independent Advocacy for young people with mental health problems who are receiving Community Mental Health Services
  • General Advocacy 
  • Peer and Citizen Advocacy 

Referrals can be made to:

Telephone     0300 790 0559

Email              essexadvocacy@rethink.org

Web                https://www.rethinkessexadvocacy.org/

More information

Carers UK has produced a guide to self-advocacy for carers

Mind has information on advocacy in mental health

Mencap has information on advocacy for learning disabilities

SeAp is an independent charity that provides advocacy services and training to people who want to be an advocate.

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