Advocacy Musings for July 18
I can’t believe that June has gone.
My mum used to say “The month has just flown by” and would add “time goes quicker as you get older!” Well I know what she meant. I have had time though to give advocacy a bit of thought.
Some years ago I attended a meeting called to discuss the creation of a national advocacy “tool-kit.” I’ve never liked the use of the term tool-kit for what is often a limited set of guide-lines based on rather bland ideas. I suggested it might be helpful to list different sorts of advocacy and give helpful suggestions regarding how to implement each of them. I was shot down and told that it would be far too time-consuming and confusing. Assertively I argued my point but was out-numbered.
What I had in mind I suppose at the time was to highlight the differences between peer advocacy, self advocacy and citizen advocacy et cetera but also to emphasise the common values to all good advocacy: empowerment, variety, choice and freedom. Yes, perhaps I was complicating matters but there can be a tendency to simplify advocacy.
Whatever different sorts of advocacy there might be I have also realised that there are differing styles too. We were once told that we were too confrontational – well that’s one style I suppose. It is what a colleague of PADA’s called “in-your-face” advocacy. A nicer way of putting this is: “face-to-face” advocacy, modifiable according to who you are facing.
But there are other styles too. A solicitor with whom we did some good advocacy work a few years ago described PADA as providing “grass-roots” advocacy. I like that.
So, to summarise these ramblings, PADA’s advocacy seems to be: face-to-face and grass-roots, to which I would like to add, community (responding to someone as part of their community) listening (which speaks for itself) and doing. It is important, in my view that an advocate does what they’ve said they’ll do and that advocacy doesn’t slip into being another form of counselling. It isn’t.
That’s quite enough musing on this hot summer’s day, except to say you will have noted maybe that PADA has announced that we are getting back into advocacy, in a limited way. We will be trying to employ all the styles listed above. Meanwhile let’s try and keep cool, oh and good luck to England in their forthcoming world-cup match, plenty of passing required and skilful footwork with goals to be scored from the right angles. A a bit like advocacy then!
Peter Dawson – Advocate/Senior Advocacy Development Worker, Peaks and Dales Advocacy.
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