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BILD - All About People
Thursday 27 October 2016
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Advocacy - listen to the experts!

advocacy big care event 1

BILD works in partnership with people with learning disabilities and families to make sure they are supported with dignity and respect and have the right support to make choices and decisions about their own lives.

One of the best ways of doing this is to make sure that people with a learning disability have their voices heard and listened to so that they have more control over their own life. 

Some of the things we do are:

  • Work with commissioners - people in organisations such as the local Council who organise support for people with learning disabilities - and other people who fund advocacy to help them understand what good advocacy is

  • Promote advocacy for people with high support needs
  • Tell people about the different types of advocacy available

  • Provide training on advocacy


Pictured above are self advocates at 'The Big Care Event' in Oxford talking about the future of social care.


Listen to self-advocates


"Discrimination makes me angry". Michael is a self advocate in Telford in Shropshire and a member of the National Forum.

You can listen to more self-advocates talk about their work and what matters to them on our Watch BILD on video page.


What is advocacy?

Advocacy means to speak up for someone. Most of us at sometime in our lives speak up for others or hope that someone will speak up for us when we need support.

There are some groups of people who may need more help than others. This is particularly the case for people with learning disabilities because they are at risk of being ignored. Sometimes we have lots of problems understanding what they are trying to tell us if they do not use words.

Advocacy is about making things change because people’s voices are heard and listened to.

It’s about making sure that people can make their own choices in life and have the chance to be as independent as they want to be.

With professional or representational advocacy it is about another person (an advocate) making sure that a person with a learning disability is not being ignored because they need some help to make sure that they are heard. Advocacy is about putting a person back in control of their own life.

What an advocate does:
  • An advocate works to make things happen and change
  • An advocate helps people to make choices and take more control of their own life
  • An advocate works for everyone to have equal rights
  • An advocate tries to make sure that people with a learning disability are not left out and lonely. They should have the same chances as everybody else to be included in their community
  • An advocate helps people to say what they want and makes sure that the voice is listened to and answered


What an advocate does not do:
  • An advocate is not a referee in a dispute or argument
  • An advocate does not take the control away from the person they are advocating for by persuading them into his/her way of thinking
  • An advocate does not take over the role of a Social worker or a nurse or a care worker either, or make up for gaps in services that should be provided. There is no right kind of advocacy and there are many different ways it can be offered


People are very different and may need different types of advocacy at different times in their lives. We need to make sure that there is choice that suits the differences of the people who want what advocacy has to offer. In that way they will gain the most from it

What is common to all types of advocacy is that the person who it is for (in this instance the person with a learning disability) is always at the centre of the advocacy process. It is all about what that person wants, and finding the best way of getting that across to the people who need to know.

Advocacy can be like tools in a tool box, the different types can be used together or separately depending on the job that needs to be done.


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Information about advocacy

BILD produces more information about advocacy that might be helpful to you.

Same Difference cover image

Same Difference

This guide, produced by Grapevine and BILD aims to provide advocates with examples of how they can best meet the needs of learning-disabled people from black and minority ethnic groups.

The guide gives examples of the barriers faced by learning-disabled people and their families from BME groups together with examples of approaches and solutions used by their advocates.

Download the Same Difference guide

Find out more about Grapevine's work

The BILD Factsheet
on advocacy

Advocacy Factsheet cover

Advocacy can take a number of forms, but independent advocacy such as citizen advocacy, peer advocacy and self-advocacy should be differentiated from the roles played by family and professional carers.

The government would like everybody with a learning disability who wants advocacy to have access to it. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 has introduced a new kind of advocate.

Download our factsheet about advocacy 

There are lots more BILD Factsheets here.


Your Guide to Advocacy

Your guide to advocacy cover

Asist, an advocacy organisation in Staffordshire wrote a book about advocacy to help their clients understand better what they could expect from their advocate.

We worked with Asist to make a few changes so that the book could be used by any advocacy group. We think this will save groups having to produce their own individual information. 

If you want to order this book please email us at enquiries@bild.org.uk

They cost £1 each. You can print your own labels and stick them on the back cover so that anyone you give a book to will know how to contact you.


More information

For more information on advocacy check these links in the Useful Links section.

There are also advocacy resources in the Useful Resources section.