Advocacy worker

Advocacy worker imageYou’ll support vulnerable people to make decisions and have their voice heard when decisions are being made about their lives. You'll secure people’s rights, such as accessing services and ensure that people are involved in their own care and support planning.

You might support people with decisions around housing, disability living allowance, care planning, medical decisions, financial planning and hospital admissions. For example you might provide advocacy for someone with a learning disability and support them to make decisions about getting carers in their own home or living in supported living.

It can be a varied role and might include:

  • exploring options to help people make decisions about their own lives
  • assisting people to secure their rights to the help they need
  • enabling people to self advocate and represent themselves,
  • representing a person and  speaking up on their behalf
  • helping people access services

What’s important is that you support individuals to express their views, wishes and choices regarding the services they receive.

You might work for a private or charity advocacy service, for example support people with learning disabilities, people from BAME backgrounds or older people.

Or you might work as a statutory independent advocate for your local authority. Since 2002 local authorities MUST arrange access to advocacy for:

  • children who are receiving services under the Children Act 1989
  • people who lack capacity to make decisions about serious medical treatment or long term change of accommodation and have no-one appropriate to represent them (this is called Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy IMCA)
  • people who are affected by Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (this is called Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy IMCA DOLS)
  • people who are subject to the Mental Health Act 1983 (this is called Independent Mental Health Advocacy IMHA)
  • people thinking about using the NHS complaints procedure
  • people undergoing the care and support planning processes within the Care Act 2014 (this is called Independent Advocacy under the Care Act).

 

Everyone working in social care needs English, number, digital and employability skills including team work and problem solving skills. What core skills do I need to work in social care outlines some of the skills you need and has short activities to help you think about transferable skills from your previous experiences.

There are also some specific skills needed to work in this role. These include

  • the ability to develop good working relationships
  • good communication skills with a range of people
  • the ability to research information and people’s rights
  • the ability to stand up and challenge decisions
  • good English skills to understand complex policies and procedures.

The most important thing is that you have the right values and behaviours to work in social care and have a commitment to people taking control of their own life and speaking up.

If you’re new to advocacy you might consider the Level 2 Award in Independent Advocacy.

For the statutory advocacy roles, like IMHA and IMCA, you are required to complete the Level 3 Certificate in Independent Advocacy Qualification.  However you do not need this prior to starting work as an advocate – most people complete the qualification ‘on the job’ with the support of their employer once they are in post. 

Knowledge of local government and other public services, and policies around benefits and allowances may also be helpful when applying for advocacy roles.

It might also be useful to have experience working in a similar role or with vulnerable adults such as counselling, community volunteer or welfare rights. You could gain this experience through a work placement, from your personal life, through volunteering or as part of a traineeship or apprenticeship.

 

If you’re interested in working as an advocacy worker, there’s lots of advice about finding a role on the Starting your career page. You could look online or in your local newspaper to find vacancies, or you might want to contact your local advocacy service to ask them directly.

 

When you start in your role you should do an induction which includes training necessary for your role such as health and safety and safeguarding. You might also receive specific training such as autism awareness, communication skills or working with people with dementia.

When in your role you could do a vocational qualification such as an independent advocacy qualification such as a Level 2 Award in Independent Advocacy or a Level 3 Certificate and Diploma in Independent Advocacy.

Your employer might pay for you to do these qualifications (they could apply for the Workforce Development Fund to help), or you could apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to pay for them yourself.

There may be opportunities to progress into more senior advocacy roles or you might choose to go into other roles such as a senior care worker, rehabilitation worker, housing support officer or a personal assistant.

You might also choose to go to University to become a social worker or occupational therapist. Read more on the Job roles in social care page.