As we approach the end of 2023 in a UK where life just keeps getting tougher for disabled people, we wanted to share a story of hope from our non-statutory advocacy service in Coventry.
This free service will continue to run throughout 2024 and into 2025.
Funded by the Henry Smith Charity, ‘Advocacy in Coventry’ is designed for autistic and learning disabled people who are aged 17 or over and ineligible for statutory advocacy due to their circumstances (not currently being treated under the Mental Health Act, for example).
Non-statutory advocacy supports people to have their voice heard across a wide range of issues and events in their life. Our fresh approach offers a one-to-one service within a rich ecosystem of other support that is proven to change people’s lives for good.
Many of our advocacy clients move onto our Help and Connect project (click this link for details) for a further six-months of person-centred support to help them take charge of their life.*
Our advocacy service supports the individual to identify clear goals that we can work towards together. In partnership, we build self-advocacy skills, resilience and hope, giving them all the relevant information to make their own decisions.
This is Derek’s** story, shared by our Director of Projects, Naomi Madden.
Derek’s advocacy story
Derek is a mature gentleman of retirement age. He has a mild learning disability and has lived life supporting himself. However, Derek also developed a degenerative health condition affecting his mobility and ability to care for himself. Over time this has taken over and his days are lonely and spent in social isolation.
His home has become run down and inhabitable, but scared to approach his landlord Derek said nothing about the broken cooker, no furniture (the flat was rented as furnished), lack of heating or ability to access his bath. Derek is a proud man and told no one he was unable to wash himself or cook any hot meals.
He was referred to our non-statutory advocacy service through his GP due to issues with benefits. The GP noticed Derek was not in good spirits, was not eating and did not have financial means to look after himself.
Our service is able to accept referrals from anyone and went to see Derek straight away. Derek would not have been able to access statutory advocacy as he was not known to Social Care. A referral from his GP via Social Care would first require assessment. These can take months to happen.
We resolved the benefits issue quickly. Within a few months he had new furniture and we opened up a line of communication between him and his landlord. This is where time-limited statutory advocacy would finish.
But Derek needed so much more to live a full, healthier life. He needed to feel a sense of who he was before life took a lonely downward spiral.
He was introduced to some people at a local community group, through which he reconnected with some people who knew Coventry’s music scene in the 1980s.
Derek is now better able to take charge of his life – not through an issue-focussed, time-limited offer – but through being with and connecting to others.
A few other examples of how we help:
- People prevented from applying for an autism or ADHD referral because they are working with the community mental health team or vice versa
- People who have been refused a treatment that is open to other people
- Support for people with no current GP in accessing health care – including making a connection with a surgery and going along with them
- Support to manage their own money or benefits if they are not happy with how someone else is managing this
- Housing issues such as risk to tenancy, landlord dispute, conflict with neighbours, adaptations to homes, notice to leave and people who are financially able to rent their own property.
*You may like to explore this information first to ensure it is our advocacy service that you need.
**All names changed to protect people’s identities.
What to do next
Would you like to refer yourself to our advocacy service? Click this link to complete our self referral form.
Or are you a professional working with someone who needs non-statutory advocacy? Please complete this form.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any other questions.
Email email@example.com with any other questions.
Advocacy in Coventry forms part of Grapevine’s Strengthening People work making our people and communities fairer, stronger and more connected. Join us!