Independent advocacy ensures people have their voices heard, that they have choice and control over their own lives and situations and that the most vulnerable people’s rights are safeguarded. However when 65% of independent advocacy organisations report static or even reduced funding whilst they face an 8% increase in demand, provision suffers. This struggle between limited resources and increased demand has led to the introduction of waiting lists, lengthy waits and some being turned away as advocacy organisations struggle to cope.
Even with this pressure on resources advocacy organisations were able to support around 27,000 people last year. Nevertheless, gaps still remain; in ten Local Authority areas of Scotland there is no provision for children and young people with a Learning Disability or Mental Health issue, despite their statutory right of access.
Seven Local Authority areas still do not have any advocacy provision for people with a physical disability. Another issue is that almost half of all advocacy organisations have a Service Level Agreement or Contract that requires them to prioritise people facing compulsory measures. This has a further detrimental impact on other vital work.
The trends show that demand for advocacy is set to further increase with the real impacts of welfare reform becoming apparent, already 87% of advocacy organisations have reported receiving significant increases in referrals relating to aspects of welfare reform. This will put further strain on the already limited resources of advocacy organisations potentially leaving some of the most vulnerable people in our society without this vital support.
Kiren S. Zubairi