An advocate is a person who can support you and speak on your behalf if you want them to.
Advocacy services help you access information and ensure your voice is heard when decisions that affect you are being made.
Why use an advocate?
Advocates are independent. They don't represent the views of others, such as your local authority or the NHS.
They won't make decisions for you or give you their personal opinion.
An advocate can:
- contact people on your behalf
- go to meetings with you to give you support
- speak on your behalf when you don't feel comfortable speaking yourself
- write letters and emails on your behalf
Situations where you may need an advocate
Advocates can be used in lots of situations. For example, they can help if you:
- need support to attend interviews about benefits
- need help dealing with housing problems
- want to complain about treatment or healthcare
- are a victim of crime or antisocial behaviour
In certain situations you have a legal right to the following types of advocacy:
- Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) which supports people who lack capacity to make certain decisions
- Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) which supports people treated or assessed under the Mental Health Act
- Independent Care Act Advocacy (ICAA) which supports people who are receiving or being assessed for care
Advocacy services in Essex
Essex County Council works with Rethink Essex Advocacy to provide an accessible all age advocacy service to residents in Essex.
Carers UK has produced a guide to self-advocacy for carers
Mind has information on advocacy in mental health
Mencap has information on advocacy for learning disabilities
SeAp is an independent charity that provides advocacy services and training to people who want to be an advocate.