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What is Independent Advocacy

Independent Advocacy protecting human rights

Independent Advocacy helps to uphold the human rights of people who have less power. This was the main message of a webinar on independent advocacy and human rights run recently by the SIAA, The Alliance, Partners in Advocacy, Human Rights Consortium Scotland, Who Cares? Scotland and CAPS. In this article we round up some of the stories that were shared on the day.

A story from Partners in Advocacy

In this webinar on independent advocacy and human rights, Dave at Partners in Advocacy told us about a young woman with a learning disability whose parents wanted her to have an arranged marriage. She did not want to be pushed into a marriage she didn’t want. She felt that people were not listening to her views. Partners in Advocacy worked closely with her to help her understand the actions being taken as she was subject to an Adult Support and Protection order. They gathered the information about her situation and helped her to understand her rights. The woman became increasingly confident at making her wishes known as a consequence of independent advocacy. She avoided a situation that she didn’t want to be in and that would have infringed on her human rights.

A story from CAPS

Mohasin from CAPS was next up. We heard about how two collective advocacy groups have been working on human rights. One group is for LGBTQIA+ people and one for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. These groups are especially for people who have experience of mental health issues from these communities. As such, group members may face multiple disadvantages or marginalisation. Group members report having had negative experiences with mental health professionals. However they have said that working with collective advocacy has helped them turn these negative experiences into a positive outcome. They have found their voice in protecting and promoting human rights in the mental health system through collective advocacy. Reports from mental health professionals show that the work of the group has had an impact on their practice.

Turning negative experiences into positive outcomes.

A story from Who Cares? Scotland

Finally, we heard from Jemma at Who Cares? Scotland about a care experienced young man. He had been living with a foster family a long way from his own relatives. Following an emergency breakdown, the young person moved to a residential house, nearer to his family. Social work then decided to move the young person to a secure residential house in a remote location. This was because the young person had been ‘absconding’, but this had been to visit his family. However, he found an independent advocacy worker through Who Cares? Scotland, Jemma, who spent time with him building his trust. Jemma was able to explain what was happening and what his rights were. Through independent advocacy he was able to represent his own wishes at his Children’s Hearings, and in the end he was able to live with his family which is what he wanted. He said “This is the first time since I’ve been in care that I’ve felt like people have listened to me”.

This is the first time since I’ve been in care that I’ve felt like people have listened to me.

Independent advocacy is about listening to the wishes of the individual and helping them get and understand the information they need to make their own choices. It is about the individual having control over their own life. Independent advocacy can protect people’s human rights and has an important preventative role in ensuring that human rights are upheld in services.

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