There are different types of independent advocacy. There is no one best model of advocacy, no ‘one size fits all’. The most appropriate model for any individual is likely to depend on their preferences, circumstances and situation and this may vary from time to time. In practice models of advocacy available will vary dependent on the area.
One to one or individual advocacy
This includes professional or issue based advocacy. It can be provided by both paid and unpaid advocates. An advocate supports an individual to represent their own interests or represents the views of an individual if the person is unable to do this themselves. They provide support on specific issues and provide information but not advice. This support can be short or long term.
Another model of one to one advocacy is citizen advocacy. Citizen advocacy happens when ordinary citizens are encouraged to become involved with a person who might need support in their communities. The citizen advocate is not paid and not motivated by personal gain. The relationship between the citizen advocate and their advocacy partner is on a one-to-one, long term basis. It is based on trust between the advocacy partner and the advocate and is supported but not influenced by the advocacy organisation.
Peer advocacy is also individual advocacy. Peer advocates share significant life experiences with the advocacy partner. The peer advocate and their advocacy partner may share age, gender, ethnicity, diagnosis or issues. Peer advocates use their own experiences to understand and have empathy with their advocacy partner. Peer advocacy works to increase self-awareness, confidence and assertiveness so that the individual can speak out for themselves, lessening the imbalance of power between the advocate and their advocacy partner.
Group or collective advocacy
Collective Advocacy enables a peer group of people, as well as a wider community with shared interests, to represent their views, preferences and experiences. A collective voice can be stronger than that of individuals when campaigning and can help policy makers, strategic planners and service providers know what is working well, where gaps are and how best to target resources. Being part of a collective advocacy group can help to reduce an individual’s sense of isolation when raising a difficult issue. Groups can benefit from the support of resources and skilled help from an advocacy organisation.
The aim of all models of advocacy is to help individuals gain increased confidence and assertiveness so that, where possible, they will feel able to self-advocate when the need arises.
To find an advocacy organisation in Scotland, visit our Find an Advocate Directory or see our Glossary for a description of the terminology used.
To find out how Independent Advocacy can change lives, watch our short film, A Voice to Trust. Read about how advocacy has changed lives on our Advocacy Stories page and in A Voice through Choice (pdf).