04 December 2006

The right to advocacy

I just read in someone's engagement protocol that ‘access to advocacy is a right to which service users are entitled.’

My immediate thought was that this must be wrong: where does it say in legislation that people have this right? And why are people now saying that IMCAs give some people the right to an advocate for the first time in England and Wales?

But then I realised that it was true in an important way, and that we should say it loudly and clearly.

People do have a right to the support of an advocate much of the time:

  • If someone arrives at a meeting with an advocate, they have a right to ask for the advocate to attend the meeting, and there is no law which prevents an advocate from attending most meetings (though they can be denied entry on a similar sort of ad hoc basis)
  • If someone wants to speak to an advocate they can, as long as they fit into the advocacy scheme's criteria
  • If someone asks an advocate to obtain information from an agency, and they fill in the appropriate form of authority, the advocate then has the same right as the person to access information about them
People may not have a statutory right to our support, but they do have these informal rights, and we can thus correctly say that people do have a right to advocacy support.


Jane said...

In Scotland, under the new Mental Health Act, people falling within its remit have an actual statutory right to advocacy..seems to be working well though as always, far more resources needed

Henry said...

Hi Jane

Thanks for that. I did think that advocacy had been a statutory right in Scotland since 2001, and I've been telling people that. Was I wrong? Was it only a duty on local authorities and health trusts to commission independent advocacy?

Rubbing it in a bit though aren't you, with your new mental health act...