Advocacy is taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the services they need. Advocates and advocacy schemes work in partnership with the people they support and take their side. Advocacy promotes social inclusion, equality and social justice (Advocacy Charter, Action for Advocacy).
Advocacy can take many forms from peer advocacy to independent professional advocacy where the advocate is trained and paid as a professional advocate. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 defines advocacy services as: “services which provide assistance (by way of representation or otherwise) to persons for purposes relating to their care and support”. The act refers to services being provided by independent professional advocates in relation to adults’ and children’s care and support.
Other advocacy functions are defined by different legislation including:
- Independent mental health advocate (IMHA) under the Mental Health Act 1983
- Independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.