Advocacy: a voice for our future
a case study report by the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group
It has never been more important for disabled people to know our rights and have access to advocacy to help realise them. At a time of major change - and often reductions - in services, people who already feel powerless can get overwhelmed by a sense of lack of control over their own lives. Advocacy can help meet the fundamental human need to make choices - through which we define our selves in the world. And that can restore a sense of control, which in turn reduces anxiety in
times of uncertainty.
Since the 1980s groups led by disabled people have both campaigned for advocacy - and shown how it can be done, on issues ranging from compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act to securing support for independent living. With the current policy emphasis on personalised services, advocacy has become even more crucial, as it can enable people who have relatively less power to exert control. This can help redress inequalities between those who already have a voice - and those who with high quality advocacy support will have a voice.
The individual stories in this report show the difference advocacy can make to living the life you choose, with the support you need to follow your aspirations.
It shows how advocacy can help services to apply principles of independent living: for instance, ensuring safeguarding is not based on a protective system that restricts opportunities, but rather builds safety by enabling individuals to have greater power and confidence.