Advocacy Plus

Radical Visions works across Scotland with disabled people and families to help people live as equal citizens. We provide advocacy and assistance to create good solutions, we call this Advocacy Plus.

Advocacy Plus services are available for all social care users. Our project developed out of our experience of working with a range of individuals seeking to get the best outcomes for themselves or their relatives in the context of self-directed support at a time of conflict: the experience of people and families feeling at best marginalised and bewildered by the struggles they have faced, and at worst discriminated against.

People find Advocacy Plus in a number of ways which include referrals from organisations working with Self Directed Support and government funded SIRD projects. Their experience and the unmet need which we believe is present has led us to develop this approach but access to Advocacy Plus is limited and funding is not typically available for such complex conflicts within the system currently. Our exposure to these issues has led us to believe that there are many people facing similar situations throughout the country and lacking the right balance of both rights-based advocacy and planning focused solutions, uniquely provided by Advocacy Plus.

A Collaborative Approach

It is important to recognise that the issues and obstacles people are facing in relation to Self-Directed Support are complex and require support from several areas of expertise. Responding to this we have come together as a collaborative group of organisations who will work to support people with the issues they face.

The organisations currently involved in this collaborative work are:

  • In Control Scotland (Lead Organisation)
  • Radical Visions Scotland CIC
  • Civil Rights First

The work we carry out may involve one or more of the organisations depending on the situation of the individual or family and the help, support and advice they require. We are also be able to share our expertise and learning between the organisations and wider to benefit other people and organisations facing similar challenges. The relationship of the organisations is governed by a joint working agreement which describes the nature of the partnership between the collaborating organisations. While the organisations stated here are taking this project forward we are open to other organisations with varied expertise joining this collaboration.

What is Advocacy Plus?

Advocacy Plus seeks to affect a powerful synergy through the deliberate combination of well-informed independent advocacy with creative, in-depth, outcome-focused planning solutions.

It is derived from our extensive experience that one without the other is often insufficient to break the log-jam that confronts some individuals and families when attempting to navigate the journey of self-directed support:the ability to assert your rights and seize your opportunities in the face of ill-informed opposition,has a limited impact in the absence of a clear picture of how you will make the most of the resources available; while the most creative of plans is of little value if you are not being permitted to exercise proper choice and control.

Advocacy Plus will provide:
  • A bespoke advocacy service specific to self-directed support, informed by detailed knowledge of the SDS legislation and the accompanying statutory guidance, and the wider range of human rights which informs them.
  • Advocacy PlusĀ is characterised by a relationship where the advocate walks beside the individual concerned at their own pace, sitting beside them in the forums they encounter, guiding them through the system. A relationship of commitment to the person, sticking with them through the inevitable ups and downs of the process.
  • The ultimate purpose of the advocacy is to help the person clarify the path they wish to travel towards their desired outcomes using Person centred approaches/conversations, planning and service designs.
  • This involves advocating in a range of mediation, negotiation, brokerage and representational activities, alongside or on behalf of the individual, with the public and third sector bodies they encounter.
  • Advocacy Plus has been successfully developed during the COVID-19 restrictions using on-line platforms for meetings and planning. The ability to develop these skills has demonstrated that the reach of this project is not limited to face-to-face interactions.

What's different about Advocacy Plus?

The unique offer of the project is the provision of the independent support people require to navigate the whole self-directed support journey: from the help people and families need to understand what Self-Directed Support is through to the development of personal plans informed not just by an in-depth knowledge of self-directed support, but by the well-developed values and principles of “person-centred” planning. The person and their family is at the centre of the process and we work alongside other agencies involved with an emphasis on creative solutions that help people to maximise the personal, social, community and public resources at their disposal.And so, just as the project may support people to challenge disparities between their individual requirements and the resources made available to them, it will also insist that being “over-supported” is an unhealthy state of affairs, a misuse of much needed public resources, and in its own way the denial of the person’s human rights.

Finally, drawing together the strands of independent advocacy, and knowledgeable and skilled support with planning described above, the project also supports people and agencies involved with them through the process of implementing the agreements reached and the plans approved.

The process of working with people individually offers the opportunity to learn from experience and share this learning with self-directed support stakeholders in order to develop the skills of others working in this field.While the aim is to prevent conflicts arising, or to resolve such conflicts as they do arise, the learning derived from the Advocacy Plus model will support other agencies to develop the skills required to adopt this model of working.

Development - Building Capacity

The Advocacy Plus Project has been operational since 2018 and has developed incrementally by practice and reputation.

We have in this time, demonstrated how the Advocacy Plus approach and collaboration has impacted the ability of people and their families to be in control of their lives and services. It has also had a wider impact on the system of Self-directed support itself supporting positive implementation of the legislation through real situations and experience. While we have consistently demonstrated the success of Advocacy Plus for each person and situation the ability to ensure we can respond to all who require this service is extremely limited through the lack of any funding source. Much of the work we have done to date has been pro-bono and while this has assisted us to develop the Proof-of-Concept our success has also demonstrated the demand and unmet need across the country for much wider access to this service.