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What is independent advocacy?

Independent advocacy helps people to have as much influence and control as possible over their lives

Independent advocacy is about people having the right to a voice: addressing barriers and imbalances of power and ensuring that human rights are recognised, respected, and secured.

Independent advocacy is …
  • about standing alongside people who are in danger of being pushed to the margins of society
  • about standing up for and sticking with a person or group and taking their side
  • a process of working towards natural justice
  • making sure that people are listened to
  • understanding their situation and what may be stopping them from getting what they want
  • offering people support to tell others what they want
  • helping people to know what choices they have and what the consequences of these choices might be
  • enabling people to have control over their life and/or taking up issues on their behalf if they want you to
Independent advocacy is NOT …
  • making decisions for someone
  • mediation
  • counselling
  • befriending
  • care and support work
  • telling or advising someone what you think they should do
  • resolving all someone’s issues for them
  • speaking for people when they wish to speak for themselves
  • filling all the gaps in someone’s life
  • acting in a way which benefits other people more than the person you are advocating for
  • agreeing with everything a person says and doing anything a person asks you to do

Independent advocacy is unique

Being independent means that Independent Advocacy organisations only provide advocacy and not any other services.

Independent Advocacy is distinct from care and support. Independent Advocacy workers do not follow the agenda of any other organisation.

Individual advocacy

What is independent advocacy? Diagram showing how individual advocacy works. You are in the centre with your advocacy worker. There are others e.g. GP, CPN, lawyer, social worker etc around the outside.

Individual advocacy is provided one-to-one by advocacy workers who can:

  • Assist people to express their own views and wishes.
  • Speak on behalf of individuals if the person asks us to.
  • Provide information, not advice, so people can understand situations and make informed choices and decisions.

Find out if you can access
individual advocacy

Collective advocacy

Collective advocacy happens when a group of people with similar experiences get together to raise issues and try to change things.

A group can have a stronger, louder voice than one person in taking forward shared issues. This makes groups more difficult to ignore.

Find out if you can access
collective advocacy

What people say about individual advocacy

Yes CAPS has made a difference – I had felt so alone before I had [my advocacy worker] at my back

[Independent Advocacy] helped me to feel as though I had a voice in my future

[my advocacy worker] was very open and friendly. She was also non-judgemental, and has a gift of being able to put people at their ease. She was empathetic and her help was invaluable.

What people say about collective advocacy

I feel like I can use very negative experiences to educate professionals and improve the system for people who will experience a personality disorder diagnosis. I don't know how else I could influence change other than volunteering with CAPS

I've met some great people through this so definitely building relationships and making new friends. For me the main thing has been to 'process' some of my mental health experiences and work out what I want others to understand more about these. It's given me space to really think things through and work out how to influence change.

What independent advocacy looks like at CAPS

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