independent advocacy is about speaking up for, and standing alongside individuals or groups, and not being influenced by the views of others. Fundamentally it is about everyone having the right to a voice: addressing barriers and imbalances of power, and ensuring that an individual’s rights are recognised, respected and secured.
Independent advocacy supports people to navigate systems and acts as a catalyst for change in a situation. Independent advocacy can have a preventative role and stop situations from escalating, and it can help individuals and groups being supported to develop the skills, confidence and understanding to advocate for themselves.
Independent advocacy is especially important when individuals or groups are not heard, are vulnerable or are discriminated against. This can happen where support networks are limited or if there are barriers to communication. Independent advocacy also enables people to stay engaged with services that are struggling to meet their needs.
an advocacy partner is a person who accesses independent advocacy. It is the preferred term because it emphasises the independent advocate and the person they are supporting working as equal partners. Some independent advocacy organisations also use client or service user.
an activist is a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.
an independent advocacy organisation only provides independent advocacy and all the activities it undertakes are about providing, promoting, supporting and defending independent advocacy.
Independence means that it does not provide any other services and is structurally, financially and psychologically separate from other organisations and interests.
Independent advocacy happens in two distinct ways, Individual and Collective. These are explained in more detail in Appendix 1.