SEA works with the people it represents to ensure that they get their voices heard. One way in which we do this is through Advocacy.
Advocacy is taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the services that they need. An advocate is a person who works alongside an individual or group of people to enable them to speak up and get their voice heard.
SEA provides advocacy in two different ways, these being:
1. On a case work basis – we work with people who are seeking resolutions to any issues that are of concern to them, or if they are unhappy about any aspect of a service they receive. We can enable people to put their views and feelings across about decisions that affect their lives. We use a service user led approach and work in a way that best suits them. This could include writing letters or attending meetings with people, ensuring that they get their views across.
2. Group advocacy – we facilitate regular service user meetings and forums to enable a collective voice to be heard. This is an effective tool for groups of people to get together to ensure positive change. Again, we ensure that the approach we use is service user led.
When providing advocacy services SEA uses the principle of ‘Dialogue not confrontation’. We encourage effective communication between services and their users to ensure a positive outcome.
SEA regard advocacy as a positive tool for growth for both services and their users. A service users experience can greatly contribute to that service as issues are raised and responded to, with changes in practice implemented where necessary. Advocacy therefore presents great opportunities for service user experiences to be used to inform good practice.