Why Do People Need Advocates?
In general those who run/deliver services and/or in positions
of authority are not often very good at listening and responding
to disadvantaged or vulnerable people. In this situation some people
find it difficult to speak for themselves or comment on their care
or services when they are in a distressed or vulnerable condition
– this can be an isolating and frightening experience. Information
is power – lack of access to information is a disempowering
process. People often need an impartial individual to speak on their
behalf and give them guidance, friendship and support. This can
help people make choices and take control of their own lives –
this is empowerment.
In some instances those who provide services take on the role of
supporting and representing their users, often to a very limited
degree. In this case many service providers are often reluctant
to speak up for those they serve due to fear of job security, endangering
promotion opportunities, loyalty to the organisation over the person
etc. Therefore they may not make the best advocates/representatives
– this is a conflict of interest.
Someone who is independent and outside of the service-providing
agency therefore best fills this role. In this way they are not
faced with the same potential conflict of interest and can ensure
their loyalty is solely to the person for whom they are advocating.