Call for Independent Advocacy to be available for all

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The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA) are launching a Manifesto for Independent Advocacy and a campaign on behalf of Scotland’s Advocacy Movement calling for MSPs and prospective MSPs to ensure that Independent Advocacy is available for all who need it wherever they are in Scotland.

Advocacy Western Isles provides a valuable service and is a helping hand for those in need.

Island resident Claire had various issues in her life and was getting into more and more trouble until she sought help from Western Isles Advocacy. Over time she was able to channel her negative energy into positive energy, working with her Advocate to put together a case which she was unable to do before. She says that Advocacy even kept her out of jail once.

The importance of the trusting relationship she has with her Advocate has been crucial. She has avoided being conned and with her Advocate learned about her own rights and gained the confidence to realise that the professionals don’t always know what is best or get it right. She says her Advocate was ‘very supportive and kind’ as well as honest and non-judgemental and, importantly kept her confidences.

Claire explained how Advocacy Western Isles had helped her: “By standing up for me and supporting me when my voice wasn’t being listened to. Just by being there when you really need someone. Felt that no matter what the situation they are right there on your side. I feel I want to get up in the morning and change things, I feel more confident. I feel I can discuss things about my issues in a more informed way.”

She added: “Advocacy told me never to give up and to keep fighting and a job will come for me, I did that and what happened, I got a job.”

Claire believes that without advocacy: “I would be screwed, I would give up. The time and effort invested in me – it means that I am worthy as a human being. Advocacy tries and does their best and at least you know you gave it your best even if you don’t get what you want.”

In advance of the upcoming Scottish Parliamentary elections, the SIAA want to inform MSPs and prospective MSPs about the importance of Independent Advocacy, the legal requirements and the importance of ensuring that Independent Advocacy is written into their Manifesto promises for the elections.

Independent Advocacy is a way to help individuals and groups have a stronger voice and to have as much control as possible over their own lives. It can safeguard people who are vulnerable and discriminated against or whom services find difficult to reach.

There are Independent Advocacy organisations all over Scotland, empowering people who need a stronger voice by enabling them to express their needs and make their own decisions. They help people engage with and become a part of their communities. Over many years collective advocacy groups have played a vital role in shaping services.

‘You see Advocacy is not just about speaking out, but also about building the skills and confidence to do this in a way that people will listen to and respect what we are saying.’ Steve, Self Advocacy group member.

The Scottish Government’s Equal Opportunities Committee agree; ‘Quite simply, advocacy provision should be available to all groups, not just to those who present as crisis cases.’ Independent advocacy is not about making decisions for someone, counselling or giving advice. It is about challenging injustice and empowering people and it is important that our politicians recognise and support this.