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What is Independent Advocacy

LGBTQIA+ Advocacy

Collective advocacy for LGBTQIA+ people

  • Do you identify as LGBTQIA+?
  • Do you live in Edinburgh?
  • Have you used mental health services and/or have lived experience of mental health issues?
  • Do you want to share experiences with others like you and work together to have your say about mental health services?
  • Get in touch with Ellis (they/them)

What is Collective Advocacy?

Collective advocacy creates a safe space for people to get together, support each other to explore shared issues and to find common ground.

It supports people to speak up about their experiences, values, and expectations. It enables people to find a stronger voice, to campaign and influence the agendas and decisions that shape and affect their lives.

Collective advocacy can help planners, commissioners, service providers and researchers to know what is working well, where gaps are in services and how best to target resources. It helps legislators and policy makers to create opportunities for people to challenge discrimination and inequality and helps people learn to become more active citizens.

Independent Advocacy: Principles, Standards & Code of Best Practice, Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance

Why get involved?

“Collective Advocacy enables a peer group of people, as well as a wider community with shared interests, to represent their views, preferences and experiences”. – Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance

The benefits of Collective Advocacy include:

  • Reducing feelings of isolation when raising a difficult issue 
  • Providing a stronger collective voice which is more difficult to ignore.
  • Sharing your experiences and opinions helping you to have your voice heard.
  • Building skills and knowledge through LEARN and understanding your rights.
  • Meeting likeminded people and finding solace in community.

Why is this group for LGBTQIA+ people only?

The LGBTQIA+ community have their own unique experiences within the mental health system and have additional barriers and needs when it comes to accessing services and gaining support for their mental health.

We can experience discrimination, marginalisation and stigma which contributes to poor mental health and mistrust in services. There can also be stigma within our community between sexual orientation and identities which can lead to further distress.

Research has shown that in the UK:

  • LGB people are almost twice as likely to report having poor mental health than heterosexual people.
  • 88% of respondents in the Trans Mental Health Study (2012) had symptoms of depression, and 75% had symptoms of anxiety, compared to 20% of people in the general UK population. 
  • 33% of LGBT people, including 62% of trans people, feel isolated where they live because they are LGBT.

We need to address these differences and talk about our own experiences so that we can improve access to services and dismantle the stigma in our communities.

What happens when I join?

As Collective Advocacy is all about you and your needs, your participation in the group is completely dependent on your own schedule.

Meetings will be held either monthly or fortnightly depending on the groups needs/ wants. The Collective Advocacy group is a safe space to chat, share ideas and plan action. You have complete freedom over your involvement and there is no formal commitment required.

How will I be supported?

The Collective Advocacy worker (Ellis Kokko, they/them) will facilitate the group to help you: 

  • Understand your rights under the Mental Health Act 1983.
  • Find opportunities for you to contribute to improving services.
  • Help you to raise issues and concerns surrounding your mental health (including treatment options, workplace discrimination etc.) 
  • Share your voice within the group and ensure your needs are being met within your involvement at CAPS.

What kind of things has CAPS done so far?

  • We have developed LEARN which provides free mental health courses to anyone who works or lives in the NHS Lothian area. These are designed and delivered by people with lived experience of mental health issues and are used to educate others on their experiences and information about mental health issues.
  • The Out of Sight Out of Mind project has successfully held art exhibitions since 2013 as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.
  • Various Collective Advocacy groups have contributed to research within mental health disorders including research on men and eating disorders, contributed to by the Seen but not Heard project.

For more information or to get involved, contact Ellis (they/them) on

View all our collective advocacy projects

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