The State of Advocates Today

I love advocacy. I think advocacy has been a positive boon to the people i support. But i havew always been worried about advocates. I have always thought that they tend to be people in desperate need of appropriate training which is why i became a trainer who helps deliver the National Advocacy Qualification – something i hold deep reservations about. I am not completely happy that the services we provide will become too professionalised and we become more about ourselves and our careers and not the people that we serve.

However, training remains paramount. It should stay focused on the recipient of the advocacy but should also enable the advocate to reflect on their own lives and what they bring to the role. I think the National Advocacy Qualification if deliver well will certainly achieve the second of these requirements.

I recently delivered a session on dilemmas that might challenge some advocates. I talked about an advocacy scenario that i have had some involvement in. This concerned a young disabled woman who struggles during her periods. She is living in a care home which also finds it hard to cope with her during her periods.

I submitted this to the group and the first response was “take her womb out”. I admit that this might have been delivered in an ironic way but it sounded more like a deeply held belief. There was a kerfuffle in the room before the voice of professionalism spoke up. This is a matter for the courts. It is for them to decide. Another more reasoned professional started talking about the less intrusive methods that m ight be used to stop the hardships being experienced. Someone else suggested that the family of the woman might have an opinon

No one spoke about the possibility that the woman might not want any intervention whatsoever. No one suggested that she might have the capacity to talk about the options herself and to make her own choices. No one spoke for our right to have a say about our own bodies.

I know a lot of advocates who do promote choices and rights, nothing about us without us, and these have to stay keystones for us. If we forget this we might as well become professional.


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