People are entitled to be in control of their own lives but sometimes, whether through disability, financial circumstances or social attitudes, they may find themselves in a position where their ability to exercise choice or represent their own interests is limited. In these circumstances, advocates can help ensure that an individual’s rights are upheld and that views, wishes and needs are heard, respected and acted upon.
Advocacy is taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the services they need. Advocates and advocacy providers work in partnership with the people they support and take their side. Advocacy promotes social inclusion, equality and social justice.
Non-instructed advocacy takes place when a person lacks the capacity to instruct an advocate. The non-instructed advocate seeks to uphold the person’s rights; ensure fair and equal treatment and access to services, and make certain that decisions are taken with due consideration for all relevant factors which must include the person’s unique preferences and perspectives.
The Advocacy Charter was published in July 2002 by Action for Advocacy and set out to define and promote key advocacy principles. The Charter provides advocacy schemes and others with a vehicle for both explaining what advocacy is and outlining a common vision of what constitutes effective advocacy. The Advocacy Charter principles and the Code of Practice have been revised in 2014, by Empowerment Matters CIC and the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), to reflect changes in legislation as well as developments in advocacy practice. Defining and promoting key advocacy principles
CLARITY OF PURPOSE
Conviction’s aims, objectives and planned activities are within the objects set out in its governing document and we can demonstrate how these meet the principles contained in this Charter. We will ensure that the people we advocate on behalf of, crime and social care services and funding agencies have information on the scope and limitations of our role.
Conviction will be structurally independent of statutory organisations. We will be as free from conflict of interest as possible, both in the design and operation of advocacy services, and seek actively to reduce conflicting interests, in particular where we provide additional services such as legal casework or ongoing emotional support.
PERSON CENTERED APPROACH
We will ensure the wishes and interests of the people we advocate on behalf of when directing our work. We will be non-judgmental and respectful of people’s needs, views, culture and experiences.
Conviction will support self-advocacy and empowerment through its work. People who access the service should have a say in the level of involvement and style of advocacy support they want where they are able and wish to. Where clients lack the ability or capacity to influence the service, we will have a process in place to enable those with an interest in the welfare of the person to influence this. Conviction will ensure that people who want to, can influence and be involved in the wider activities of the organisation up to and including at Board level.
Conviction has a written equal opportunities policy that recognises the need to be proactive in tackling all forms of inequality, discrimination and social exclusion. We have systems in place for the fair and equitable allocation of advocates’ time.
Advocacy will be provided free of charge to eligible people. Where clients need or want to purchase advocacy or where someone has an appointed deputy/attorney in place who wishes to instruct an advocate on the person’s behalf, suitable processes should be in place to safeguard the person and ensure they are not open to financial abuse. Conviction will aim to ensure that its premises (where appropriate), policies, procedures and publicity materials promote access for the population that it serves.
Conviction will ensure advocates are suitably prepared, trained and supported in their role and provided with opportunities to develop their knowledge, skills and experience.
Conviction has systems in place for the effective monitoring and evaluation of its work, including identification of outcomes for people supported. All those who access the service will have a named advocate and a means of contacting them.
Conviction has a written policy on confidentiality that is in line with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It outlines how information about a person accessing the service may be shared as well as the circumstances under which confidentiality might be breached. Advocates must also be aware of situations that would require making a child or adult safeguarding alert.
Conviction has a written policy describing how individuals, including relevant stakeholders, can make complaints or give feedback about the service or individual advocates. Where necessary, we will enable people who use our services to access external independent support to make or pursue a complaint.
Clear policies and procedures are in place to ensure safeguarding issues are identified and acted upon. Advocates will be supported to understand the different forms of abuse and neglect, issues relating to confidentiality and what to do if they suspect a client is at risk.
Anyone can make a referral for advocacy support by completing our referral form here.
You can also make a referral by leaving a voicemail on our helpline number where one of the team will be able to complete the referral form with you and also be able to explain anything which you may not understand.
Our referral criteria can be found here.