Code of Best Practice

The indicators listed below are separated for advocates and advocacy organisations and apply to both individual and collective advocacy. All independent advocacy organisations are committed to the principles but advocacy practice might be slightly different depending on the different types of advocacy being delivered.

As an advocate you must:

1. Enable your advocacy partner or advocacy group to understand their rights, and ensure that they are recognised by others.

2. Ensure your work promotes equality and challenges discrimination.

3. Reflect on your practice and be aware of your own opinions, prejudices and discriminatory views and values and not let them affect your practice.

4. Identify and challenge any attitudinal, structural or environmental barriers to accessing, using or taking part in independent advocacy.

5. Address any power imbalance between yourself and your advocacy partner or the advocacy group, or within the group.

6. Not withhold information from your advocacy partner.

7. Look out for, declare and minimise conflicts of interest in line with the organisation’s conflict of interest policy.

8. Uphold the confidentiality of your advocacy partner in line with the organisation’s confidentiality policy including being honest when the policy should be breached.

9. Act on the issues agreed by your advocacy partner or advocacy group at the appropriate pace.

10. Enable your advocacy partner or advocacy group to outline, record and review their expectations.

11. When advocating in a non-instructed context, make significant efforts to determine the rights, will and preferences of your advocacy partner, and where this is not genuinely practicable then make certain that decisions are taken with due consideration for their unique preferences, rights and perspectives.

12. Support your advocacy partner or advocacy group to gain information, understand options and explore possible outcomes.

13. Practice and promote effective communication with your advocacy partner or advocacy group, especially when they may face barriers.

14. Not take the side of anyone other than your advocacy partner or advocacy group or try to influence them on behalf of others.

15. Ask decision makers to explain why an action is taken where required.

16. Ensure that you seek and are guided by feedback from your advocacy partner or advocacy group members.

17. Support your advocacy partners or advocacy group members to gain more control and influence in the decisions and circumstances that affect their lives.

18. Make every effort to enable your advocacy partner or advocacy group members to have the opportunity to develop skills and confidence to advocate for themselves.

In addition the following indicators apply only to collective advocacy:

19. Make every effort to support an advocacy group to debate and reflect on the views and experiences of the group members as well as agreeing issues to take forward.

20. Enable advocacy group members to be open and regularly review the way the group works.

21. Support the advocacy group to define and agree the internal and external boundaries of confidentiality.


“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”



An effective independent advocacy organisation must have clear policies and procedures that reflect the Principles, Standards and Code of Practice, it must:

1. Identify and challenge any attitudinal, structural or environmental barriers to accessing, using or taking part in independent advocacy.

2. Ensure that although independent advocacy is accountable under the law, it must support challenges against discriminatory legislation, policies and practices or the way they are applied and where they infringe rights.

3. Make every effort to understand, monitor and overcome barriers faced by diverse, minority or marginalised groups to accessing, using or taking part in independent advocacy.

4. Be clear that advocacy is free to the people that use it.

5. Ensure that advocacy provision is accessible, including premises.

6. Promote the independence of the organisation.

7. Have accessible information about the organisation and independent advocacy which is made available to all parts of the community covered by the organisation.

8. Ensure that income streams don’t compromise the independence of the organisation.

9. Place a responsibility on everyone in the organisation to identify and declare any conflicts of interests and take appropriate steps where any conflict does exist. The organisation should keep and regularly review a register of these interests, including how they are managed.

10. Make every effort to ensure that Board of Directors or Trustees do not have a conflict of interest. If a conflict of interest does arise ensure they do not vote on the matter where that conflict exists.

11. Be embedded in the community or community of interest it serves.

12. Have a clear way of handling referrals and prioritising requests for advocacy and, where possible offer a choice of advocate

13. Regularly seek feedback from advocacy partners and advocacy group members to help shape and direct its work.

14. Have a comprehensive Complaints Policy, including arrangements to support individuals who may continue to need advocacy.

15. Have quality assurance systems that use evidence based practice to measure the impact of independent advocacy.

16. Provide regular peer support opportunities for staff, volunteers, advocates and activists to discuss good practice, areas for improvement and advocacy dilemmas.

17. Provide continuous development and learning opportunities, guidance and information to all staff, volunteers, activists and Board of Directors or Trustees on the Principles, Standards and Code of Best Practice for Independent Advocacy.

18. Ensure that everyone in the organisation has training or preparation on equal opportunities, equalities duties, respect and dignity, discrimination and human rights.

19. Ensure that people who have accessed or are allies of independent advocacy have the opportunity to be involved at any level of the organisation, subject to the Articles or Constitution.

20. Ensure the Board of Directors or Trustees know and understand their governance, legal and financial responsibilities including funding agreements for the organisation.

21. Have Articles or a Constitution, Mission Statement, relevant policies and procedures, annual reports and accounts that are clear and accessible as possible.

22. Make every effort that the organisation is independently evaluated at least once every 3 years, in line with the SIAA Evaluation Framework.

23. Make significant effort to influence local strategic planning, including the Strategic Independent Advocacy Plan.

“There’s no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”