Advocacy Plus recognises that independent advocacy is just one of a range of activities that aim to protect and promote human and civil rights. It seeks to provide effective mechanisms for ensuring that the important roles of informal Citizen Advocates and/or natural advocates are recognised and respected. It offers a mechanism for all models of Advocacy to complement each other and to maximise their effectiveness by co-ordinated links to other activities that protect and promote human and civil rights. It should assist in taking advocacy from the limited orbit of Health and Social care to a broader rights-based, citizenship agenda.
An Advocacy Plus approach ensures that independent Advocacy is connected to, and at the heart of, the spectrum or continuum of advocacy, Advice, Information and related supports within local communities. It seeks to ensure that the different roles are not confused, which is essential if conflicts of interest are to be avoided and/or addressed. It also seeks to ensure that when advocacy needs to be independent, it is robustly so. An Advocacy Plus approach seeks to ensure that the more formal Advocacy roles are more effective by linking them to informal advocacy roles and vice versa. It recognises the importance of people having choice in which type of support/s they wish to use and who provides these. This is especially important given the development of new models of Advocacy and an inevitable drift towards instrumental or issue-based Advocacy becoming more ‘professionalised’ and/or regulated. These new Advocacy services could have less potential for flexibility and for being connected to the communities in which they operate. The need for connectivity has never been more vital.
Advocacy Plus recognises that there is more to advocacy than Advocacy services – formal or informal. It acknowledges that much of the advocacy that occurs in our communities is provided in natural partnerships, when people stand by and support somebody that they already know. This organic activity should be encouraged and facilitated and those engaged in it assisted when necessary in recognising conflict of interest and/ or their own need for support. Advocacy Plus also recognises that people can often be supported in meeting their own advocacy needs (self-advocacy), and that their life experiences can make them uniquely placed to assist in meeting the advocacy needs of others (peer advocacy). It recognises that people don’t need to be qualified to speak up for someone, but that they should be assisted in identifying when a more formal Advocacy or other role might help and/or be more appropriate.