Since its inception in 2002, Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance’s purpose has been to promote, support and advocate independent advocacy across Scotland. Below you can read about the beginning of the independent advocacy movement in Scotland and find out how SIAA was established.
Origins of independent advocacy in Scotland
In the mid-1980s there was a growing sense of anger and frustration about the way people accessing mental health services were being treated. People accessing mental health services, workers and professionals alike began to talk about what was happening and what they could do about it. They held groups and public meetings to share their experiences and discuss what they were going to do to change things. The courage and sheer determination of the very first collective advocacy groups drove the movement forward to create the first publicly funded projects. The idea of advocacy began to grow as more and more groups and organisations were established across the country, and the advocacy ‘movement’ began to come into its own in the 1990s.
SIAA and Advocacy 2000
SIAA was born out of the Advocacy 2000 consortium, which was established towards the end of the 1990s. Advocacy 2000 brought together different models of advocacy, evaluation frameworks and ideas within the advocacy movement in Scotland. In 2002, a steering group, formed from the original Advocacy 2000 consortium set up the new Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA) as an independent charity with its own Board of Directors.
Independent advocacy principles and standards
Advocacy 2000 was responsible for the development of the first set of ‘principles and standards’ for independent advocacy organisations and groups. The original ‘principles and standards’ set out the key ideas, values and principles of advocacy including the need for independence and avoidance of conflicts of interest. The document also established different models of advocacy as well as the need for proper evaluation and monitoring of independent advocacy.
The independent advocacy ‘principles and standards’ have since gone through several iterations and now, as the national intermediary organisation for independent advocacy in Scotland, SIAA holds this key and foundational document for the sector in Scotland.
SIAA has had many successes over the years:
- Campaigned to make independent advocacy a legal right under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.
- The ‘Social security and independent advocacy campaign’ saw the right to access independent advocacy for all disabled people enshrined in Scottish legislation
- Further policy successes where independent advocacy has been included in various key parts of Scottish legislation or policy, including;
- Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000
- Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007
- Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities 2012
- Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013
- Undertook consultation across the independent advocacy movement to develop a new set of ‘Independent Advocacy Principles, Standards and Code of Best Practice’ in 2019, which covers the breath of independent advocacy in Scotland.
- Researched and produced a number of companion guidelines including, Non-Instructed Advocacy Guidelines, Elder Abuse Advocacy Guidelines and Mental Health Tribunal Advocacy Guidelines
- Produced a national framework for member organisations on how to measure and document their impact
- Worked in partnership with the Scottish Human Rights Commission on the Advocating for Human Rights Project, delivering training, producing guidance and raising awareness amongst advocacy workers about human rights
Independent advocacy has come a long way since the emergence of small, user-led groups in the 1980s and the first citizen advocacy partnerships and has gone through many transitions; from a political voice, to a legitimate movement, to a legal right. SIAA has led in raising the profile of independent advocacy in Scotland, resulting in many positive changes to policy and practice, and ultimately ensuring independent advocacy is available to many more people.
You can read a more detailed history of advocacy in Scotland in Towards the Future: a brief history of advocacy in Scotland.