This short article aims to introduce key concepts about advocacy in Fife, Scotland, including:
- The importance of advocacy;
- The principles and standards;
- Types of advocacy; and
- The services available for children, younger people, adults and older people in Fife.
Read in conjunction with What is Advocacy?.
What is Advocacy?
- Supporting people to speak about issues important to them;
- A safeguarding role;
- Supporting people to make their own choices and decisions;
- Supporting people to have their views heard and increase their self-confidence; and
- Representing the views of people when they are unable to do so for themselves.
Advocacy IS NOT:
- Telling somebody what to do; or
What are the Two Types of Advocate?
- Citizen Advocates:
- Are volunteers from all walks of life who want to help others in their community.
- They are a friend, an ally and a spokesperson and they take time out of their busy lives to support people who may not otherwise be able to put their own interests forward.
- Advocates may help their partner with practical support and advice, or just be someone to turn to for moral support.
- Advocacy Partners:
- Are vulnerable adults looking for support and someone to speak up for them.
- Partners are generally people with learning disabilities or other issues that mean they may risk isolation, social exclusion or unfair treatment.
- Partners may also have a mental health need, physical disability or long-term (chronic) health condition that means they are at risk of being unable to safeguard their rights.
- Partners may be people living independently, in long-term care or in supported housing.
What is an Advocacy Relationship?
- An advocacy relationship is a mutual partnership in which the advocate’s sole loyalty is to their partner.
- It is not a service provided to the person with a disability but a relationship of friendship and support between two individuals.
What is the Importance of Advocacy?
Independent advocacy services are critical to safeguarding and empowering those people who are most vulnerable and at risk be enabling them to express their views and to have their voice heard.
Advocacy has to main themes:
- Safeguarding people who are in situations where they are vulnerable; and
- Speaking up for and with people who are not being heard, helping them to express their views and make their own decisions and contributions.
What are the Principles and Standards of Independent Advocacy?
Independent advocacy should be provided by an organisation whose sole role is independent advocacy, or whose other tasks either compliment or do not conflict with the provision of independent advocacy. If the service or advocate has a conflict of interest, they should withdraw from acting for the person.
- Ensures people are listened to and their views are taken into account.
- Recognises and safeguards everyone’s right to be heard.
- Reduces the barriers people face in having their voice head because of communication, capacity, the political, social, economic and personal interests.
- Is loyal to the people it supports, and stands by their views and wishes.
- Provides no others services, has no other interests, ties or links other than delivery, promotion, support and defence of independent advocacy.
- Must be able to evidence and demonstrate its structural, financial, and psychological independence from others.
- Follows the agenda of the people supported, regardless of the views, interest and agendas of others.
- Upholding Rights:
- Stands up to injustice, discrimination and disempowerment.
- Enables people to have greater control and influence.
- Challenges discrimination and promotes equality and human rights.
- Recognises power imbalances, or the barriers people face, and takes steps to address these.
What are the Types of Independent Advocacy?
Below are some of the most common types of independent advocacy services:
- Individual Advocacy:
- Professional, or issue-based advocacy, involves a professional advocate providing expert and specialist knowledge to help resolve a particular issue. The relationship is normally short-term.
- Citizen advocacy is a person-based service that usually, but not always, takes place on a longer-term basis The advocate is usually an unpaid volunteer, who builds a trusting relationship with a person, and supports them to resolve any issues they have. This ensures that individuals have an active life within the community.
- Non-Instructed Advocacy:
- Can be provided by professional or citizen advocates. It happens when a person cannot tell an advocate what they want. This may be because the person has complex needs, and/or limited communication, which prevent them from clearly stating their wished and desires.
- The advocate observes the person, tries different ways of communicating with them, and will speak to significant others in the person’s life.
- Group Advocacy:
- Group advocacy, or collective self-advocacy, is designed to allow people with the same concerns, issues or experiences to provide support to each other and highlight issues or campaign for improvement. The groups are run by members, for members, and are supported by a development worker.
- Peer Advocacy:
- This is provided by an individual who has gone through similar experiences. This arrangement can help to reassure the person, who is be advocated for, that the individual providing the advocacy understands them and their situation.
- Children’s Rights Services:
- The nature of Children’s Right Services is very similar to professional advocacy. It aims to ensure that a child’s rights are fully taken into account when decisions are made about them. Generally, this service is focussed on providing support for children and young people who have been in the care system, or who are subject to a child protection case conference.
- The service supports the child or young person at reviews and other complex meetings, helping them to express their views and wishes in all decisions affecting them. This advocacy allows children and young people to contribute to statutory child’s plans.
What are the Adult Eligibility Criteria?
Within Fife, Scotland, the eligibility criteria for adults and older people includes:
- People in Fife aged 16 or over;
- People affected by disability;
- People affected by chronic illness;
- People with dementia or mental disorder (including mental illness, learning disability or personality disorder); and
- Individuals who are unable to safeguard their own well-being, rights, care, or other interests.
What are the Professional Advocacy Services for Available for Adults and Older People in Fife?
- Fife Women’s Aid (FWA):
- Provides advocacy for women who are experiencing, or have experienced, domestic abuse.
- Fife Forum:
- A voluntary sector advice and information agency.
- Established in 1990 as the Fife Elderly Forum Executive.
- Provides advocacy for people over 65 who are in community hospitals, residential homes, or nursing care homes.
- Fife Carers Centre:
- Provides advocacy for anyone with a caring responsibility.
- Provides advocacy services for parents and carers of children with additional support needs.
- Circles Network:
- Provides advocacy for everyone who is eligible to receive advocacy services in Fife.
- Fife Advocacy Forum (FVA):
- Provides professional advocacy to children subject to compulsory measures under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.
What are the Citizen Advocacy Services for Adults and Older People in Fife?
- Citizen advocates are unpaid and independent of service providers and families.
- They are members of the local community.
- Fife has three (3) citizen advocacy organisations who provide support on a longer term basis for people aged 16-65.
- Shorter term advocacy is also available when someone would benefit from a citizen advocacy relationship to resolve a specific issue.
- Include Me!:
- Covers North East Fife.
- Equal Voice:
- Covers Kirkcaldy and Central Fife.
- Dunfermline Advocacy:
- Covers Dunfermline and West Fife.
What are the Group/Peer Advocacy Services for Adults and Older People in Fife?
- People First (Scotland) work to support people with learning difficulties to have more choice and control over their lives.
- Peer advocacy refers to one-to-one support provided by advocates with a similar disability or experience to a person using the service(s).
- Trained and supported volunteers often provide peer advocacy as part of a coordinated project.
- They facilitate seventeen (17) local advocacy groups in Fife, including two (2) women only groups and two (2) men only groups.
- People First workers will support individuals to find a suitable local group for their needs.
What are the Advocacy Services for Children and Young People in Fife?
- Who Cares? Scotland:
- Provides professional advocacy for young people up to the age of 25.
- These young people will either have been, or will be, resident in Fife’s residential homes.
- Provides professional advocacy and support for carers of children with additional support needs throughout Fife.
- Fife Young Carers:
- Provides peer/group advocacy to young people living in Fife who have caring responsibilities.
- Circles Network:
- Provides professional advocacy to children subject to compulsory measures under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2003.
- Believe in Children (Barnardo’s):
- Provides a children’s rights and advocacy service to children and young people in secure or purchased residential placements.
- Children looked after at home, in kinship care, foster care, or children and young people who are subject to multi-agency statutory child’s plans can also access advocacy through Barnardo’s.
- Fife Advocacy Strategy 2018-2021.
- Carers Strategy for Fife 2018-2021.
- Advocacy in Fife (Information Leaflet).
- Fife Adult Support and Protection (webpage).
- Fife Health and Social Care Strategic Plan 2016-2019.