What is Independent Advocacy?

Independent Advocacy Perth & Kinross aims to help people by supporting them to express their own needs and make their own informed decisions. Independent advocates support people to gain access to information and explore and understand their options. They speak on behalf of people who are unable to speak for themselves, or choose not to do so. They safeguard people who are vulnerable or discriminated against or whom services find difficult to support.

Advocacy is about broadening horizons and widening the options that people have. Advocacy is important to ensure justice, equality and fairness.
(Principles and Standards for Independent Advocacy, 2008. The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance)

Many of us find it difficult at times to get our voice heard about decisions or actions that affect our lives. Some people have family, friends or other carers to help them to speak up. Others do not have people in their lives to do that, and sometimes, if they do, family members may have their own ideas about ‘what is best’ for the person involved. Paid carers may have a duty to defend the actions of the organisation that they work for. This means that they have a ‘conflict of interest’. Independent advocacy is as free as possible from conflicts of interest like these, is completely separate from service providers and funders and does not provide services other than advocacy.

Some examples of the ways we can help are:

  • Help to prepare for and attend meetings/speak on your behalf.
  • Help write letters/make phone calls and source information for you.
  • Help to identify what options you have and support you in pursuing them.
  • Make sure that your voice and views are heard.
  • Treat you as an individual and listen to you only.

Why is ‘Independence’ in advocacy so important?

“In order to be able to ensure that the individual’s views are heard and understood and that they receive support to ensure their rights are not infringed, it is important for advocates to be as free as they can be from conflicts of interest.”

“Advocates, whether paid or unpaid, must be clear that their loyalty lies with the person who needs advocacy, not to the agencies providing or involved in that person’s care or to other significant people.”

”It is vital that anyone who might benefit from using an advocate feels confident about making that contact, without any real or perceived worries about conflicts of loyalty on the part of the advocate”.
(Independent Advocacy Guide for Commissioners, The Scottish Government, 2013)

At Independent Advocacy Perth & Kinross, our advocates are independent from organisations that provide services to the people we support. We do not provide any other services other than independent advocacy, and our advocates have no close ties to family or friends of the individual. This means that we are as free as possible from conflict of interest, and can freely speak up for the person.

Independent Advocacy Perth & Kinross is committed to the individual’s voice and wishes being heard; we do not express our own view only that of the individual. Even when a person is considered not to have capacity, we still work to seek out that individual’s point of view. When the person cannot tell us their wishes, we would use non-instructed advocacy.

Code of Practice

Independent Advocacy Perth and Kinross adhere to the Principles and Standards and Code of Practice produced and published by the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.

Please visit: www.siaa.org.uk/publications

If you require the support of Independent Advocacy Perth & Kinross please contact us on 01738 587887 or send us a message using our contact form.