The term ‘advocacy’ describes what a member of the community (an ‘advocate’) is doing when they provide support to a person who may feel vulnerable, isolated or disempowered.
Advocates don’t speak on behalf of people with a learning disability – they make sure a person’s own voice is heard and support people to develop the skills, confidence and knowledge they need to voice their concerns and make sure they are being treated right.
Who can have an advocate?
You can organise your own advocate by:
- asking a volunteer to talk for you
- asking a legal expert, such as a solicitor, barrister or legal advice worker to explain for you. They can also speak for you at a tribunal or in court
- joining a group. The group can work together to support and speak up for you and other people who have similar concerns. A group can express your point of view in places such as committees, forums and meetings
- asking a person who has had a similar experience to talk for you.
We can make a referral to an independent advocacy service for people who are eligible.
You may be eligible if you:
- can’t reasonably be expected to understand or engage with health or social care procedures to resolve issues with the resources available to you, and
- you need your voice to be heard about specific health and social care rights or freedom issues, and
- you don’t have a friend or family member who is able to advocate on your behalf.
How do I get an advocate?
If we identify that you need an advocate we will make a referral to the Devon Advocacy Consortium.
Devon Advocacy Consortium provides:
- advocacy under the Mental Capacity Act for people who lack capacity
- advocacy under the Mental Health Act for people who are detained in hospitals or on a Community Treatment Order
- some statutory advocacy for NHS complaints
- statutory independent advocacy under the Care Act.
We work with Devon Advocacy Consortium to determine your eligibility and priority. If you think that you need, and are eligible to receive, the support of an independent advocate ask any health and social care practitioner you are in contact with to refer you to the Devon Advocacy Consortium Service. Or you can refer yourself directly.
Phone: 0300 343 5707 (Calls are charged a local rate. Calls from mobiles may be higher)