What is independent advocacy?
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 human 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.
Who provides independent advocacy?
An independent advocacy organisation only provides independent advocacy. 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 advocates’ or ‘advocacy workers’ work for independent advocacy organisations. Independent advocates help them to get the information they need to make real choices about their circumstances and support the person/group to put their choices across to others. An independent advocate may speak on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves.
The principles of independent advocacy
- Independent advocacy is loyal to the people it supports and stands by their views and wishes.
- Independent advocacy ensures people’s voices are listened to and their views taken into account.
- Independent advocacy stands up to injustice, discrimination and disempowerment.
Find out more about independent advocacy and how it works in Scotland from the Independent Advocacy Principles, Standards and Code of Best Practice.
Find independent advocacy organisations in your area by visiting Find an Advocate.