National Advocacy Conference
The Conference provided some excellent speakers who highlighted some of the changes to statutory advocacy, with particular reference to the recently introduced Care Act.
The introduction of a statutory right to an advocate has for some time been embedded in laws such as the Mental Capacity Act and the Mental Health Act; and many advocates hoped that the Care Act would increase the access to advocacy for many more people who have care and support needs.
Unfortunately the feedback from delegates and organisations seems to indicate that the Care Act legislation has generated very few referrals to advocacy support and may be leading to a lack of funding for more generic advocacy. It highlights the continued need for local advocacy services such as those provided by the Beth Johnson Foundation.
One of the most interesting presentations was from the British Institute of Human Rights who talked about the Human Rights Act and how this can be an effective tool for advocates. Issues such as an older woman wishing to receive personal care from a female carer and a person with a disability wishing to join in community activities are covered under Article 8: “Right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence”. We often think that the Human Rights Act is all about major laws and changes in society, but the BIHR cites many cases where any one of us is protected by this legislation and it may actually be useful in our day to day advocacy work.
The BIHR produce a really useful pamphlet called: “Human Rights for Community Groups, Raising a human rights issue: tips and tools”. This is available from www.bihr.org.uk , you will also find information on training events and useful contacts and links.
East Staffs Cancer Advocacy Project Co-ordinator