Advocacy means having someone to help you express your views and wishes, secure your rights and represent your interests.
An advocate is not there to provide information and advice.
Because an advocate should be independent, the council don't directly provide advocacy services but we do fund a local organisation to provide independent advocacy.
The organisation delivering advocacy in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire is Your Voice, Your Choice. This service is available to people aged over 18.
The service is provided on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council, NHS Nottingham City CCG, NHS Bassetlaw and NHS Nottinghamshire County.
The service provides specialist advocacy as well as statutory advocacy. This is where the law requires that an advocate is provided.
This includes the help of an advocacy for people who, because of mental health problems or a learning disability, can't make their own decisions. Referrals will usually be made by social care workers or health providers.
Under the Care Act, people who have substantial difficulty in understanding social care processes may also be entitled to advocacy. Social care workers will be responsible for deciding who to refer for advocacy services.
Specialist advocacy is used to refer to advocacy that is not legally required. It supports vulnerable people who are unable to represent themselves to make their voice heard. Referrals can be made by workers or can be made directly by the vulnerable person or their carer.
Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) Service
The Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) Service provides support to particularly vulnerable people who cannot make important decisions and who have no-one to act for them.
The council must consult an IMCA when making decisions for a person who lacks mental capacity.
Other types of advocacy available:
- Self advocacy - helping people speak up for themselves
- Citizen advocacy - matches people with volunteer partners who in the local community
- Formal, professional or crisis advocacy - paid advocates to focus on a task over a specific time
- Family and friend advocacy - happens daily by family members or support workers
- Legal advocates - have specialist knowledge/training and represent people in courts, tribunals or complaint processes
- Best interests (non-instructed) advocacy - an advocate represents what he or she feels a person's wishes would be if they were able to express them. Some mental health advocates are trained to do 'best interests' work for people with dementia. This type of advocacy is provided by IMCA's
- A circle of support - a group of friends and a facilitator work to ensure a person in need of support has a good and full life