Why does advocacy matter?
Making your voice heard is hard when you have a learning disability
Mental ill health can rob you of the confidence to speak up
Having dementia can make you feel invisible and ignored
What is advocacy?
Advocacy can help these vulnerable groups and others to understand what is happening in their lives and to express their wishes. Advocacy gives people full access to their rights and choices as equal citizens in society.
Advocacy means working in partnership with people to support them to express their views. Most people think advocacy is done on a one to one basis. But we are increasingly providing peer and group advocacy to help people live a more independent life.
Debbie’s carers were having difficulty managing her behaviour (a key feature of her learning disability) and wanted to implement a behaviour plan in her supported living arrangement. Daffodil Advocacy was asked to provide one to one advocacy for Debbie at a behaviour review and planning meeting. At the meeting, a behaviour plan was presented, but not in a format that Debbie could understand. The advocate asked for the meeting to be rescheduled, giving them time to work with Debbie to help her understand what the plan involved.
But the company who provided Debbie’s care went into administration and gave Debbie notice to leave before the next meeting took place. Debbie was very shocked and upset and thought this was down to her behaviour. Advocacy helped Debbie to understand that this was not her fault and helped her to explore her housing options and make sure her views were heard. Debbie felt the advocate was ‘on her side’ and she is now more confident when having meetings with professionals about her care.
At Daffodil Advocacy we provide services in Redbridge and Waltham Forest to help people like Debbie. From one to one advocacy, through to peer and self advocacy support. We also provide service user led training and advice on equal access.
Unfortunately Debbie's story is common. Those who struggle to get their voices heard need help and support to understand and exercise choice and control over the day to day decisions which affect them. They, like all of us, have the right to have a say in how they live their lives.
One-to-one advocacy referrals
People accessing our services
Many of our referrals are from people experiencing crisis or issues that are not covered by our statutory one to one advocacy funding. This means we have to raise money through grants and fundraising to provide services.
Hours of one to one advocacy
This is equal to providing one to one advocacy for 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 15 months! We employ fully trained advocates who work in line with the Advocacy Code of Practice and the principles laid down in The Advocacy Charter. But we know there is an increasing need for advocacy, as many of our service users face further challenges through the impact of service cuts.
70% of our service users have a learning disability. We have recently extended our services to support other vulnerable groups including those with mental health issues and older people. Many of our service users return to us for advocacy support. We can often continue to provide this support through our self advocacy services.
We run groups to ensure that the voices of people with a learning disability are heard loudly and clearly by the people who make decisions which affect their lives. We run user led People's Parliaments, user forums and consultations with providers, public agencies and policy makers.
This infographic was produced using service data from 2013 to 2016.
Service users are supported to deliver services directly. These include quality checking, mystery shopping, training and educating others to understand people with a learning disability.
Service users are at the heart of what we do, from governance to delivery of services. All of our work is built on developing people's confidence, giving them a voice and making sure others listen.
We support paid and volunteer project workers to provide a quality checking service for organisations to ensure they meet the needs of people with a learning disability. This involves reviewing services, customer interface and literature. Our last project resulted in 18 changes in a local provider's services - one simple change was making sure that their complaint forms were easy to read.
Organisations often ask us to use mystery shopping to assess how well they are meeting the needs of people with a learning disability. A recent project looked at community services and resulted in 15 changes being made. A simple and inexpensive change was to adapt signs to make them more accessible.
Our Training Stars programme develops project worker's skills to provide direct training to the public to make them aware of the needs of people with a learning disability. By building greater understanding, this helps to dispel myths, encourage inclusion and reduce potential for hate crime. We recently trained over 1,000 school children on learning disability issues in Redbridge.
'Martin' is 25 and has cerebal palsy as well as a learning disability. His disability affects his speech and he used to find it very difficult to communicate to others. So his mother used to speak for him and make phone calls on his behalf. When he first came to us he was very shy and had low confidence but joined us as a volunteer on our Training Stars project. He was keen to learn new skills and develop his confidence and speech.
Martin worked hard at developing his confidence and has became one of our most reliable and regular volunteers. He really enjoyed the work in schools talking to children about his disability. Martin has grown in confidence and is becoming more independent. He can make his own telephone calls and even travels by minicab. He has recently been given his own front door key and lets himself in to his home when returning from Training Stars. And he has recently secured paid work in learning disability support!
You can help us by: Contracting us to provide training and consultancy services. Funding us to provide one to one and peer advocacy services. Donating money, time or other help!
Daffodil Advocacy wants to extend its services to more vulnerable groups and geographical areas. We want to help others build their knowledge and experience of learning disability. And give even more people with a learning disability a louder and stronger voice!
Helping people who need a voice access their full rights and take control over their lives