Someone to speak on your behalf

Sometimes it helps to have someone else who can speak on your behalf and represent your interests - especially in formal situations, or when you don't feel very confident.

A person who speaks on your behalf in this way is usually called an 'advocate'.

What is advocacy?

Advocates can help you share your views or wishes about the issues which are important to you, such as the care and support you receive or the management of your finances.

Advocacy doesn't always have to be provided by professionally paid helpers. Often people take a friend or family member with them to important meetings with doctors, social workers or other professionals, to give them moral support and to speak up on their behalf.

Alternatively there are organisations that can arrange for a professional advocate to be with you at a meeting. A professional advocate will know about your legal rights, and about the options which should be made available to you, and will make sure that your views are properly heard.

When can an advocate help?

You can make your own arrangements to get the support of an advocate at any time if you feel you need some support to get your voice heard. 

If you are having an assessment from the Council or are already receiving care and support, the Council has to make sure you are able to express your views and wishes and help you put in place support if you have substantial difficulty in doing so without help. This may mean that:

  • You have difficulty in making decisions about something by yourself, perhaps because you have memory problems or a mental health issue
  • You have difficulty in expressing your views, wishes or feelings, perhaps because you have a disability which affects your speech.

If you do have substantial difficulty in speaking for yourself then you will need someone to support you:

  • During your assessment, care and support planning and review process when your support arrangements are being discussed with you
  • During a carer's or  young carer's assessment
  • During a safeguarding enquiry or a safeguarding adult review.

Who can be an advocate?

A relative or friend can act as your advocate if you are happy for them to support you and speak on your behalf - this person is called an appropriate individual. They cannot represent you, if:

  • you do not want them to support you
  • they are providing care or treatment to you on a professional and/ or paid basis
  • they are unlikely to be able to properly support you to express your views
  • they have previously been found to have abused or neglected you, or previously failed to stop other people abusing or neglecting you.

If there is no appropriate individual to support you, the Council will put you in touch with an organisation that can provide you with an independent advocate. 

Mental health advocacy for people in hospital

People who are admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act are entitled to help from an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA). An IMHA is an independent advocate who is specially trained to work within the framework of the Mental Health Act 1983 to support people to understand their rights under the Act and participate in decisions about their care and treatment.

Useful contacts:

Community Partnership for Richmond, Kew, Ham, Petersham,Teddington or The Hamptons
Phone: 020 8831 6464

Cambridge House
Address: Cambridge House Advocacy, 303A Mortlake Business Centre, 20 Mortlake High Street, London SW14 8JN
Phone: 020 7358 7007
Fax: 0845 300 8161

Richmond Council Adult Access Team
Address: Adult Social Services, Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham, TW1 3BZ
Phone: 020 8891 7971
Minicom: 18001 020 8891 7971