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We answer all of your burning questions about Advocacy. If there is something you are still confused about, be sure to contact us.

Advocacy FAQs

Advocacy is all about speaking up for people and communicating on their behalf when they need it most.

Advocacy is a way of ensuring that people who are perhaps struggling in society are able to:

  • Be properly supported when having to face professional services or action affecting their lives
  • Have their voice heard and genuinely considered regarding issues that are important to them
  • Know, defend and safeguard their own rights
  • Develop confidence, ownership and authority regarding decisions involving their lives

Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to:

  • Express their views and concerns
  • Access information and services
  • Promote their rights and responsibilities
  • Explore choices and options

To find out more about what advocacy is all about, click here.

There are many different types of independent advocacy support; we help with mental health, healthcare and social care advocacy.

Whilst we work across many types of advocacy, our main strands are:

  • Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
    • An automatic right for people detained or discharged with restrictions under the Mental Health Act. Helping them to understand their rights and support them through the process of care and treatment.
  • Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)
    • For those assessed as lacking in capacity under the Mental Capacity Act and with no-one appropriate to consult in specific decisions such as Serious Medical Treatment or Changes of Accommodation.
  • Care Act Advocacy
    • Advocacy for people with care and support needs
    • Individuals or Carers with the appearance of ‘substantial difficulty’ in being fully involved in care and support planning with no-one appropriate to help them.
  • NHS and Social Care complaints
    • Practical assistance for any person making a complaint about any health or social care issue.

These types of advocacy are known as Statutory Advocacy.

We are always extending our advocacy services, if you think you need an advocate, contact us now.

See more – Types of Advocacy.

An Advocate is someone who can help you to be heard when you feel lost in the system.

Advocates are independent of the NHS or Social Services and can help you to be heard if you have a health and social care issue. Your advocate is there to support you and be by your side.

Depending on the type of service required, an Advocate will help a person to understand and stand up for their rights in a health or social care setting.  This could be by:

  • Helping them find information so that they can make their own decisions
  • Helping them take control of meetings by encouraging them to speak out
  • Building their skills and confidence to advocate for themselves without help
  • Attending meetings, helping to write letters and assisting to make phone calls in whatever capacity is needed

In some instances, you may be legally entitled to a professional advocate, such as an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) or an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) – this is called statutory advocacy.

Care Act Advocacy

Care Act advocacy is slightly different – not everyone is entitled to an Independent Advocate under the Care Act. Generally, two conditions must be met:

  1. If an independent advocate were not provided, the person would have substantial difficulty in being fully involved in the process


  1. There is no one appropriate or available to support and represent the person’s wishes

Substantial Difficulty (only one need apply)

  • Understanding relevant information
  • Retaining the information
  • Using/Weighing up the information (as part of being involved in the process)
  • Communicating their own views, wishes and feelings

What kinds of issues might an Independent Advocate at Advocacy Focus be involved with?

  • A Needs Assessment under section 9
  • A Carer’s Assessment under section 10
  • The preparation of a care or support plan under section 25
  • A review of care and support under section 27
  • A Transition Assessment under section 58
  • A Child’s Needs Assessment under section 60
  • A Child’s Carer’s Assessment under section 62
  • A Young Carer’s Assessment under section 65
  • Safeguarding Processes under section 42
  • Making a Health and Social Care Complaint under Local Authority Social Services and NHS Complaints Regulations 2009.
  • Understanding relevant information
  • Retaining the information
  • Using/Weighing up the information (as part of being involved in the process)
  • Communicating their own views, wishes and feelings

Currently you can only self-refer for health and social care complaints and Independent Mental Health advocacy (IMHA). To self-refer for health and social care complaints, click here. To self-refer for IMHA, click here.

For all other types of advocacy you must be referred to us via your social worker or a health care professional.

Our offices in Accrington, Leyland, Fylde and Wyre and Lancaster give us good footing to cover all of Lancashire and even further afield. We have been providing high quality advocacy support in Lancashire for almost 20 years.

If you are a professional, you can also Spot Purchase from anywhere in the country, Spot Purchase Us by clicking here.

We have over 30 trained Independent Advocates covering all our services of advocacy, we also have aims to introduce more advocacy services in 2017/18 (including Children’s Advocacy and Veteran’s Advocacy) and recruit and train more Independent Advocates.

All of our Advocates are qualified to IAQ level 3 (Independent Advocacy Qualification), which is the only nationally recognised qualification that allow Advocates to externally validate their skills. Our Advocates also receive bespoke and specialist, in-house training as well as specialist training from various legal professionals. They are also required to complete regular self-study.

Our Independent Advocates are one of a kind; focussed on getting the right outcome for you.

We are one of the longest-running advocacy charities in Lancashire:

  • Founded in 1998 when advocacy was in its infancy, we helped pioneer independent advocacy services in Lancashire
  • Over 60 staff members and volunteers help make Advocacy Focus the advocacy charity of choice
  • We have four strategically placed offices in Accrington (Head Office), Leyland, Lancaster and Blackpool (this office supports the people of Fylde and Wyre) – providing advocacy services across the North West
  • We are QPM accredited – recognising quality in independent advocacy
  • Winner of Enterprise in Society (Selnet) Award for ‘Excellence in Training and Mentoring’
  • Shortlisted for Large Business of the Year at the Hyndburn Business Awards
  • Shortlisted for Charity of the Year and Volunteer Manager of the Year at the North West Charity Awards 2017
  • Our service is free of charge, confidential and completely independent
  • We are Investors in People – we care about the wellbeing of our staff and provide plenty of opportunities for support, mentoring, training and development. This means they can continue to provide the high-quality support we are known for.

We also offer self-help packs to help you understand how to communicate your wishes and needs more effectively. Find out more about how to self-advocate here.

More importantly, donations help our service remain free.

Donating to Advocacy Focus has never been easier – you can donate quickly and easily online by clicking here. We are completely transparent about all the donations we receive.

If you wish to donate larger amounts, please get in touch with us on 0300 323 0965.

All donations – big or small – go a long way in helping us provide support to those people who need it most.

Your money goes towards the recruiting and training of our specialist Advocates, ensuring the smooth operation of our charity and the running of fundraising and awareness campaigns such as our Pop Up Advocacy events.

You can see exactly how much your donations help via the below:

  • £20 helps to pay for drop in facilities to support vulnerable adults in Lancashire
  • £30 pays for Volunteers to operate our Pop-up Advocacy awareness events
  • £35 pays for one hour of support from a trained Independent Advocate
  • £150 pays for a day’s self-advocacy training to empower a group of people to make their own decisions and speak for themselves about their health and social care.

To find out more about fundraising for us, click here.

Why not become a fundraising volunteer? You can help us plan events and help support other fundraisers!


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