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Advocacy – and me, why it matters

Catherine and Philipa have been co facilitating a series of workshops for NHS England on Advocacy and we want to share with you some thoughts and ideas as to why it’s so important to us. Catherine wrote this blog post about why advocacy is so important to her.
Advocacy – and me, why it matters
I have a friend called Bernice. She has a learning disability and she’s autistic. Bernice is 25 years old. Bernice lives on her own in a flat after growing up with her mum, they cared for each other.

When Bernice moved into her new flat after her mum died, she had no social worker and no support . As a result Bernice got into debt because she can’t read and therefore couldn’t read her bills.

This made Bernice feel very anxious, ashamed, lonely and depressed. Bernice wanted an advocate to support her to get the right support, someone who could speak up for her and explain that she couldn’t understand.
Advocacy – and me, why it matters
I also know people with learning disabilities who need advocates who are in ATU’s because they don’t have their rights. For me, I am a strong woman with a learning disability, I have a job, I live independently, I always speak up for people’s rights but I sometimes feel that I need an advocate to help me speak up for my rights.

When I lost my children to the care system I was given a crisis advocate which meant that I couldn’t build a trusting relationship with her so this wasn’t helpful for me.

Many children and young people may also need an independent advocate who they can trust who can speak for and with them.
Advocacy – and me, why it matters
Peer advocacy is when we as people with a learning disability support each other. My friend Shaun, went to his GP because he thought he might have diabetes.

The GP didn’t explain what this means to Shaun in a way that Shaun could understand, so as Shaun’s peer and as someone who also has diabetes,  I was able to support Shaun to understand how to manage his situation.
Advocacy – and me, why it matters
When we are growing up, we have no role models. I didn’t think about this until I was an adult. I was put down a lot as a child. I was told ‘people with learning disabilities don’t go to college’.

If I had had an advocate as a young person who was an adult with learning disabilities, I feel that it would have changed the course of my life. I would have been given hope and I would have had dreams and ambitions.

Advocacy is so important, we, people with learning disabilities, young and old, can’t always speak up for ourselves so we need that extra voice to help us become stronger and take our power.
Guest Blog Post
October 11 / 2019
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