National Coalition of Advocacy Schemes and C.A. Coalition
The National Coalition of Citizen Advocacy Schemes was founded in 2001, changing its name to National Coalition of Advocacy Schemes (NCAS) in 2009. It is facilitated by C.A. Coalition, which is a registered charitable company. The fifteenth national Assembly was held in Liverpool on 8th November 2017. it is an informal network of community based organisations that are involved in the provision of a range of different models of advocacy at local level. The latter includes groups that are not ‘advocacy’ specific, but are concerned more with ‘looking out for people’ who find themselves isolated and/or disadvantaged and protecting and promoting their rights. This would involve encouraging and enhancing the advocacy element of natural partnerships within communities e.g. supporting people who are already involved with someone and are willing to act on their behalf.
The Coalition was founded, at a time of growing government interest in advocacy, with the aim of resisting the threat of it being defined and controlled by the very people it was meant to be challenging. Since that time, advocacy has evolved from its origins as an informal relationship (and usually long-term) based response to need to the development of a range of models. Most of these are statutorily defined and specific to certain situations and are rarely provided by organisations that are rooted within the local communities they are intended to serve. Many of the small local community based advocacy organisations have disappeared.
The Coalition was established with the primary aim of protecting and promoting informal volunteer citizen advocacy within an Advocacy Plus[i] context. It currently has two main objectives:
- To ensure that advocacy is rooted in the communities which it seeks to represent and is provided by groups that are capable of ensuring this.
- To promote informal voluntary advocacy activity, whether this occurs through the matching and support of citizen advocacy partnerships[ii] or through naturally occurring supportive relationships.
Membership of the Coalition is open to any group or organisation that is involved at a local level in what we call voluntary advocacy activity. This includes supporting advocacy and/or befriending, peer support relationships that are focussed on protecting the rights and dignity of people. Most of our member groups are independent organisations that match and support informal voluntary advocacy activity as either their sole purpose or as part of a range of activities. However, membership is also open to groups that undertake any model of ‘advocacy provided that they:
are connected to and directed by the communities in which they work
work to a vision of an holistic and collaborative approach to all forms of ‘advocacy’.
The Coalition defines informal advocacy as an activity that is built on a community-based[iii] relationship and that is defined by the two people involved. The expression was introduced to distinguish this type of advocacy from both statutory and other types of short-term intervention advocacy.
- In citizen advocacy that relationship would have been matched and developed by a Co-ordinator as a result of the partner being particularly isolated and at risk of discrimination and/or abuse.
- Other relationships have evolved through friendship, family and neighbourly connections to include a measure of advocacy.
- Some informal advocacy could include dealing with an issue, but at a pace that is determined by individual need rather than a service model.
- Activities such as peer support, self-advocacy and group advocacy might also be considered as informal advocacy.
[i] Advocacy Plus is an holistic approach to Advocacy, Advice, Information and other support when addressing a problem
[ii] Informal advocacy activity includes citizen advocacy relationships. These are defined as one-to-one partnerships that are freely given and voluntary. Their aim is to promote social inclusion and the protection of the rights of a person who is in a vulnerable position. Such partnerships are defined and shaped by the partner and advocate.
[iii] Community could be either a locality or a community of shared interest, culture etc.
The Coalition’s Executive Committee consists of the regional representatives plus the Chief Officer, Joe Monaghan, all of whom elected at the annual national Assembly. NCAS is currently funded entirely by donations and it has no paid staff. It seeks to provide a national voice for its constituent groups through seven regional structures:
Midlands and South Wales
North West and North Wales
The Coalition’s publications the 'State of Citizen Advocacy' report (2007) and ‘Citizens and Advocacy’ (2009) define the role that informal citizen advocacy plays in the broader rights continuum. If you would like copies of either of the above or of ‘Community based Approaches to Advocacy’ (Joe Monaghan 2015), please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org