Finding someone to speak for you

Advocacy is a way of helping children and adults to have their voice heard about important things.

What advocacy is

Advocacy can help support people of all ages to:

  • have their voices heard on issues that are important to them
  • safeguard and defend their rights
  • have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives and services
  • gain personal skills which can also be used elsewhere, thus promoting their independence across their life.

Types of advocacy

There are different types of advocacy which include:

  • family, friends or someone else speaking on behalf of an individual or supporting them to speak for themselves
  • the person advocating for themself by developing ‘speaking up skills’ 
  • formal advocacy on behalf of one person provided on a paid or voluntary basis with a qualified advocate.

Oxfordshire Advocacy Hub

All advocacy services in Oxfordshire have been delivered by the Oxfordshire Advocacy Hub since October 1, 2019.

The hub is being co-delivered by the charity POhWER and the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS). POhWER is carrying out the adults' services and NYAS is doing the children's.

You can find more information about getting services below.

The children and young persons' service was formerly carried out by the Volunteer Independent Visiting and Advocacy (VIVA) and the adults' service was delivered by Getting Heard.

Advocacy for children and young people

From 1 October 2019 the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) has been contracted to deliver advocacy services to children and young people countywide on our behalf.  The service will no longer be carried out by the Volunteer Independent Visiting and Advocacy (VIVA)

NYAS offers a variety of services including:

  • a national advocacy helpline
  • advocacy for children in care and those in need – including children subject to child protection plans, care leavers, children and young people with disabilities
  • the provision of independent visitors for children in care
  • legal representation of children in private family law
  • advocacy to adults in-inpatient mental health settings.

How to get the service

Referrals to the service can be made online via the NYAS online referral form or by using the free helpline.

Advocacy for adults

Our adult advocacy services are being carried out by POWhER from 1 October 2019. Our former provider Getting Heard will no longer deliver the service. Find out more about the service and how to get support from an advocate on the Oxfordshire Advocacy Hub website.

Find out more about advocacy for adults

We need to enable you to be fully involved in planning your support and care and to make sure that you can get the information and advice you need.

If you have no one else to help you with this such as a family member or friend, then one of the ways we may be able do this is by arranging for an independent advocate to get in touch with you.

An independent advocate is a person who will assist you to understand information, express your needs and wishes, secure your rights, represent your interests and enable you to be fully involved in any of the following processes:

  • a needs assessment
  • a carer’s assessment
  • the preparation of a care and support or support plan
  • a review of a care and support or support plan
  • a safeguarding enquiry or a safeguarding adult review
  • an appeal against a local authority decision.

An independent advocate will not make decisions on your behalf but will support you in weighing up your options in order to help you make your own decisions.

If you have 'substantial difficulty' in being involved in any of the above processes, then we will consider whether an independent advocate is appropriate for you.

We will determine if you have substantial difficulty by considering if you are able to:

  • understand information about your care and support
  • remember information
  • use the information
  • communicate your views or feelings.

We will consider two other factors in order to determine if an independent advocate is appropriate for you:

  • Firstly, we will consider whether we can make changes that will enable you to be involved, for example by providing information in an accessible format
  • Secondly, we will consider whether you have an 'appropriate person' who is willing to help you such as a family member or friend.

Becoming an advocate or independent visitor

Free eLearning course for professionals

If you are a professional or you are interested in advocacy, you can access our free eLearning.

Course overview

Our key aim is that social workers and other professionals will routinely consider advocacy and make referrals to services for children and adults for those that need advocacy.

Course objectives

The purpose of this eLearning is to show professionals:

  • how advocacy helps people to have a voice and take part in decisions about their own lives
  • the range of advocacy services available
  • how to recognise when a person may benefit from advocacy
  • how advocacy improves people’s outcomes
  • who needs to be contacted for advocacy support and how to make a referral.

How to access the course

Oxfordshire County Council employees should go to the council's intranet home page, select Learning, access the Learning Zone and search for 'Advocacy in Children’s and Adult’s Services: Giving People a Voice (E-Learning)'.

External professionals can find the course through the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board training section and searching for 'Raising awareness of advocacy'. You will need to register and log into the eLearning system.