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  • Writer's pictureThe Advocacy People

Advocacy in Southampton

“It’s about listening to people, taking time at their pace to discover what they need and want, and making sure their voices are heard.”

The Advocacy People is now the provider of advocacy services for adults in Southampton, as well as advocacy for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

A young man is sitting on a bench in a park and talking to a young woman using a wheelchair. He's talking about or explaining something in a notebook.

But what is advocacy?

“Advocates work alongside people who find themselves – perhaps through age, injury, illness, or disability – struggling to be heard,” explains CEO at The Advocacy People Matthew Hilton.

“We take time to find out who a person is, what they feel, and how they would like their life to be. We make sure their wishes are represented, and their rights upheld, particularly when it comes to decisions being made about their health and social care.”

Advocacy is independent of all other authorities such as social services and the NHS, but advocates forge positive working relationships with other professionals in order to ‘be the voice’ of the individual client: for example liaising with social workers or doctors over a person’s case, and representing that person if need be when their case is being discussed at meetings.

A woman is in conversation with an older man and she's gesturing or using sign language

Advocates work alongside people in many different circumstances, but typical scenarios could include:

- Helping someone in a care home to understand the situation and state their preferences when accommodation or care arrangements are going to change

- Being alongside a person who has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act; supporting them to understand what is happening and what their rights and choices are, and speaking on their behalf

A boy in a wheelchair is outside, he looks happy

- Understanding the feelings and wishes of a child who is fostered or in care and making sure these are considered by the local authority when making decisions

- Supporting a person who lacks capacity (possibly through dementia) and who doesn’t have a friend or family member available to represent their best interests

The Advocacy People (formerly seAp) has provided Independent Health Complaints Advocacy to people in Southampton since 2004: the team is delighted to be extending their work in the city.

“I am really excited about this opportunity to take on and develop the excellent services already in place in Southampton,” said team manager George Baylis.

“For me, advocacy at its best is a really powerful and positive form of action. Busy People, for example, is a group which supports adults with learning disabilities to advocate for themselves; speaking up for the changes that they want to see take place.
This kind of work empowers individuals, helps improve accessibility and services for a wider group of people, and also helps raise understanding amongst the general public.

“We’re looking forward to working with Southampton’s many brilliant organisations and professionals over the coming months and meeting the individuals who we’ll be supporting,” George continued.

“We’ve been here in the city delivering health complaints advocacy for almost 20 years and I’m proud that we are trusted to take on this much wider contract.”

Find out more about our services in Southampton here

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