A Self Advocate Speaks to Achieve


self advocacy
Andy says:

“I did two pieces of self advocacy today. Sign on and go to the tax office for support. I would have achieved both but the tax office was closed, This felt very strange. With respect to signing on I should have done it six months ago but my head’s not been in a very good place and I just couldn’t deal with things for a while. But its a new year and this is the year I turn my life around. I’m going to do things for myself. I’m going to claim my rights and entitlements and having formed a base i’m going to move on. Enough personal motivations already.

This was a bit risky for me. I’d left things very late (a common self owned feature), i’d probably broken rules, I had to say things about me and my life that I wasn’t ready to say and more than anything I wanted to use the system to best advantage so had to speak up for me. The latter point being the hardest for me and I suspect for a lot of advocates too – “‘ere mate this is what I want” – and indeed this proved the most angst provoking moment but only after I did it. I think at that point I was asking for affirmation that I was doing the right thing or had done the right thing and I guess when you spend a long time not expressing your own needs you just build need on top of need. So big risks for this service user including major concerns about how I was going to present and if I would be respected.

Most professionals were very good today. Courteous, friendly, affirming but there was one sticky point at the start when I was asked if I had my forms. No one had sent me any forms and the previous call centre experience had been fairly nightmarish. Plus way back in way back time the DHSS, as was, wasn’t that helpful either so there I was carrying all this baggage. I also liked the new open plan office space, They’re not hiding behind glass partitions anymore (bane of my life – improve access, remove all glass partitions)”.

I find what Andy has to say for himself very interesting. He is swinging his life around by keying into personal motivation. But he is clearly hesitant to do this, and is concerned as to how asking for something that he is entitled to will impact on how he sees himself and others. He is clearly taking things a step at a time. Building, developing. He is in a good place but remains vulnerable. He demonstrates how he is effected by disempowerment. He can’t do things when he wants to do things, needs to do things. The system that he joined needed him to both reveal tings about himself and things that he wasn’t really ready to impart. This was difficult for him but the idea of being motivated and being entitled seemed to get through in the end. Whilst he needed affirmation he didn’t ask for it. He told me later he warded off this need “by grovelling, being over polite”, transferring the affirmation to the officer had seen him. He clearly got through the day in spite of both his own needs and expectations but also whilst carrying the weight of previous bad experiences from the bureaucracy. It seems clear that the environment he worked within had changed was better for him, that barriers had been removed.

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