What is advocacy?

Dictonary definition of advocacy

Advocacy is the process of getting support from another person to:

  • speak on your behalf 
  • help you express your views and wishes, and
  • protect your rights.

Why use an advocate?

The person who speaks for you is your advocate.

An advocate can help you explain and say what you want, if you find it difficult to do so by yourself.

They can help you get your views or wishes across about issues that matter to you, such as the care or medical treatment which you receive, or the management of your finances.

An advocate can help you or someone you care for:

  • be involved in decisions about your life
  • explore choices and options
  • defend and promote your rights and responsibilities
  • speak out about issues that matter to you, express your views, wishes or feelings.

An advocate can:

  • contact people on your behalf
  • go to meetings with you to give you support
  • speak on your behalf when you don't feel comfortable speaking yourself
  • write letters and emails on your behalf.

Who can act as your advocate?

A family member or friend can act for you if you are happy for them to do so. This person is known as an "appropriate individual".

Who should not act as your advocate?

Someone who would not be an appropriate individual and therefore not act as your advocate would be someone who:

  • you do not want to support you
  • is being paid to provide your care or treatment
  • is unlikely to be able to properly support you to express your views
  • is unlikely to be available to properly support
  • has been found to have abused or neglected you, or has failed to stop other people abusing or neglecting you.

GPs, advocacy and interpretation

Discover more about advocacy and interpretation services provided by Tower Hamlets GPs to ensure everyone has access to primary medical care.

Advocacy and the law

It is the law that, in certain circumstances, the council must arrange for you to be supported by an advocate.

Further information

If you would like an advocate to act on your behalf, you can contact Tower Hamlets Connect for advice. They may refer you on to another service or a social worker, or appoint one of their own advocates to support you. 

If you are a carer, you may be able to receive advocacy support from the Carers Centre,
telephone 020 7790 1765.