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Someone to speak on your behalf

Sometimes it helps to have someone else who can speak on your behalf and represent your interests, especially in formal situations or when you don't feel very confident. A person who speaks on your behalf in this way is often called an 'advocate'.

As a result of the Care Act 2014 your local council has a duty to ensure that the people it works with have access to an advocate in certain circumstances.

For people with learning disabilities, we have our page Someone To Help Me Speak Up for easy-read information on advocacy.

Advocates can help you get your views or wishes across about the issues which are important to you, such as the care or medical treatment which you receive, or the management of your finances.

Advocacy doesn't always have to be provided by paid professionals. Often people take a friend or family member with them to important meetings with doctors, social workers or other professionals, to give them moral support and to speak up on their behalf.

Alternatively there are organisations that can arrange for a professional advocate to be with you at a meeting, or to contact someone on your behalf. A professional advocate will know about your rights, and about the options which should be made available to you, and will make sure that your views are properly heard.

You can make your own arrangements to get the support of an advocate at any time.

But the Care Act 2014 means that there are certain circumstances where your local council has a legal duty to ensure that you have the support of someone who can help you express your views and wishes.

Your council may need to ensure that there is someone to support you to express your views and wishes if you would otherwise have "substantial difficulty" in doing so yourself. "Substantial difficulty"could mean that:-

  • You have difficulty in making decisions about something by yourself, perhaps because you have memory problems or a mental health issue
  • You have difficulty in expressing your views, wishes or feelings, perhaps because you have a disability which affects your speech

If you do have substantial difficulty in speaking for yourself then someone will need to be involved in supporting you on the following occasions:-

  • During the care assessmentsupport planning and review process when your support arrangements are being discussed with you
  • During a carer's assessment
  • During a young carer's assessment
  • During a safeguarding enquiry or a safeguarding adult review
  • During an appeal against a local authority decision under Part 1 of the Care Act (subject to further consultation)
  • During a child's needs assessment (when you are the person looking after the child)
  • During a child's carer's assessment (when you are the person looking after the child, and the child has a disability)

If you do have a legal right to an advocate then the person who acts as your advocate could be a relative or friend whom you are happy to have supporting you to speak - this person is known as an "appropriate individual". 

But the following people should not be considered by your council as an "appropriate individual":- 

  • someone who you do not want to support you
  • someone who is providing care or treatment to you on a professional / paid basis
  • someone who is unlikely to be able to, or available to, properly support you to express your views
  • someone who has previously been found to have abused or neglected you, or has previously failed to stop other people abusing or neglecting you 

If there is no appropriate individual to support you then your council must put you in touch with an organisation who can provide you with an independent advocate - we give details below of the organisations who provide independent advocates in our local area.

People who are admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act are entitled to help from an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) - you can find out more on our page Mental health care in hospital

The Mental Capacity Act states that people who have difficulty in making decisions for themselves should be supported to do so in some situations by an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) - find out more on our page Making your own decisions.

The following local organisations can provide an independent advocate for you:-

Older people

For people living in Westminster:-

For people living in Kensington and Chelsea:-

  • PohWER
    Tel: 0300 456 2370
    Minicom: 0300 456 2364
    Text: send the word 'pohwer' with your name and number to 81025
    Email:- pohwer@pohwer.net

For people living in Hammersmith & Fulham:-

People with dementia

For people living in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea:-

For people living in Hammersmith & Fulham:-

For information on advocacy for people who may lack the mental capacity to independently make decisions about aspects of their lives please go to our page on Making Your Own Decisions (Mental Capacity Act 2005).

People with physical disabilities (including sensory impairment)

For people living in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea:-

For people living in Hammersmith & Fulham:-

People with learning disabilities

For people living in Westminster or Kensington and Chelsea:-

For people living in Hammersmith & Fulham:-

People with learning disabilities can go to our separate page called Someone To Speak Up For Me for more information on advocacy.
For information on advocacy for people who may lack the mental capacity to independently make decisions about aspects of their lives please go to our page on Making Your Own Decisions (Mental Capacity Act 2005).

People with mental health issues

For people living in Westminster or Kensington and Chelsea 

For people living in Hammersmith & Fulham:-

For information on advocacy rights for people who are admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act please go to our page on Mental health care in hospital.

For information on advocacy for people who may lack the mental capacity to independently make decisions about aspects of their lives please go to our page on Making Your Own Decisions (Mental Capacity Act 2005).

Carers

The Carers Network are the first point of contact for adult carers living in Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster

Westminster Forum for Mental Health

The Forum is an independent group of people who experience mental health problems, either now or in the past, and who live in Westminster. You can be receiving support from your GP, or in another primary health care setting, or through an CNWL Talking Therapies Service , Recovery Team or any other health setting. The Forum aims to offer local people a voice to ensure that mental health services meet local people's needs.

It is open to anyone in Westminster - regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, etc.

Who is the Westminster Forum for?

You can join if you:

  • Live in Westminster
  • Experience mental health problems (now or in the past)
  • Receive help (now or in the past) for these problems from a GP, recovery team, assessment team or other community team.
  • Care for someone who has (or used to) experience mental health problems

When & where do they meet?

Meetings are held monthly in the morning at Westminster Mind's offices. They're friendly, jargon-free and finish with a sandwich lunch (optional).

Contact Details

If you'd like to find out more about the Westminster Forum and how to join, then contact:-

Fateha McDaniel, Service User Group Co-ordinator
Brent, Wandsworth & Westminster Mind
Radstock House - 5 Eccleston St
London
SW1W 9LX
Tel: 0207 259 8100
Email: FMcDaniel@wwmind.org.uk

Your local council has produced a leaflet with information about advocacy, and details of the local advocacy services:-

General

The Independent Age website provides a guide called Independent Advocacy.

VoiceAbility supports people who face disadvantage or discrimination to have a voice that counts so that their views and hopes can be heard loudly and clearly, their rights are understood and respected, and they are able to lead a full and enjoyable life

Mind provide information on advocacy for people with mental health issues.

The Older People's Advocacy Alliance promotes the importance of advocacy for older people, and provides a directory of older people's advocacy services in the London area.

Diabetes UK provide advocacy for people with diabetes.

The NHS website provides information on advocacy.

Westminster

If you would like to receive independent advice on money and benefits, accessing care and support, legal issues, housing, your rights as a carer, education and employment, and a range of other issues, then you can contact the Westminster CAB