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:
- 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
- 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
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.