Add to Your Support


An advocate is someone who provides advocacy support when you need it. An advocate might help you access information you need or go with you to meetings or interviews, in a supportive role. You may want your advocate to write letters on your behalf, or speak for you in situations where you don’t feel able to speak for yourself.

What is an Advocate?

An advocate is someone who can both listen to you and speak for you in times of need.

Advocacy is there to ensure that your views are heard and your rights defended, particularly at a time when you either feel or are unable to speak up for yourself. Unfortunately some people find that their views and opinions are sometimes not taken seriously and that their opportunities may be restricted, and in these cases an advocate can help support you.

Advocacy is there to enable people to:

  • express their views and concerns
  • access information and services
  • defend and promote their rights and responsibilities
  • explore choices and options
  • protect their rights and entitlements to services
  • help people to make their own decisions and choices
  • ensure that the client has the opportunity to participate in decisions made about them and more importantly, ensure that they remain central to any and all decisions

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What Type of Advocacy do You Need?

There are many different types of advocacy, and advocacy can mean many different sorts of support and help although these all have some common and shared beliefs.

Although some advocates may be legally or medically qualified, in general, advocates are volunteers or paid workers who have been trained by the project or group they are part of. You can expect an advocate to have been given training in listening and negotiating skills. They should also have knowledge of the basic legal framework and provision of mental health and community care services.

Mind have produced detailed information on some of the different types of advocacy available which includes:

  • Self Advocacy
  • Group Advocacy
  • Peer Advocacy
  • Formal, professional, or paid advocacy
  • Citizen advocacy
  • Legal advocacy
  • ‘Best interests’ (non-instructed) advocacy – Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs)

To read more about these types of Advocacy on the Mind website click here.

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When Might you Need an Advocate?

Advocacy can be used in situations where you do not feel your views are feeling heard, or it can be used to ensure that people listen to you and take notice of what you are saying.

Mind have produced some information on the following types of Advocacy

  • Hospital Advocacy
  • Advocacy in the Community
  • Advocacy under the Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • Advocacy under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA)

To access this information click here.

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Where Can I Find an Advocate in Kent?

Most mental health advocacy services in Kent and Medway work with anyone who wants to use their service. If you are having difficulty making your voice heard, or would like support or information about a situation you find yourself in, then you might like to talk to your local service.

In Kent this is Kent Advocacy. Kent Advocacy manage the single point of access for all advocacy services in Kent.  You can go to their website here: www.kentadvocacy.org.uk  or email:  kent@seap.org.uk,  Tel:  0300 3435 714  Text:  SEAP + message to 80800.

In Medway this is POhWER, go to their website here: www.pohwer.net/medway or email: pohwer@pohwer.net, Tel: 0300 456 2370 (charged at local rate).


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How to Get the Most Out of Your Advocate

When you do make contact with an advocate it is firstly important that you are happy and comfortable with your choice of advocate. Make sure you discuss how they will operate for you, make a list of questions to ask if it helps. Some things you might want to establish with your advocate are:

  • How will I contact you, and when are you available?
  • Can you come to meetings and appointments with me?
  • What issues can you help me with?
  • What can’t you help me with?
  • What records do you keep and who sees them?
  • What is your confidentiality policy? What things won’t you keep confidential?
  • If you do something I am not happy with, how can I complain?
  • Can you work with me if I am in hospital or if I am in the community?

You can usually take an advocate into health and social care meetings. The exception is where your psychiatrist believes that having an advocate present will have a significantly adverse affect on your mental health or might disrupt the meeting.

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Other Useful Organisations

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