Advocacy has a huge impact on many people’s lives and Citizen Advocacy has helped them to lead enriching and happier lives. Our partnerships have long-term impact on people’s lives and benefit them in all kinds of ways, getting vulnerable people joining community clubs, learning new skills, keeping in touch with family and old friends and accessing holidays, concerts, clubs and activities. The impact that Citizen Advocacy has varies for each person involved.
The stories below illustrate the impact of Citizen Advocacy on people’s lives. You can also look at our photo gallery where our partnership pictures tell their own stories.”
Colin & Alistair
Colin has been Alistair’s Citizen Advocate for over 3 years. Alistair has a mild learning disability and lived with foster parents until he was 18 years old. When Alistair turned 18 his foster parents told him that he could no longer live with them as they were going to be fostering another young boy and they needed his room. Luckily Colin had already been Alistair’s Advocate for 2½ years and knew him well enough that this would be very upsetting for him and that he would need some help with what to do next. Colin has helped Alistair find new housing through the council and through some difficult times where he was taken advantage of by others in his community. Colin and his family have shown Alistair what it means to be part of a loving family as they now spent the last two Christmas and New Years together. Colin and Alistair are now working together to find Alistair some paid or voluntary work.
Heather & Genna
Heather was matched with Genna when she needed to be a witness in court. Genna was very anxious about the situation, which was causing her health problems. Genna had been a victim of crime and was worried about seeing the perpetrator and having to speak about what happened. Heather was able to reassure Genna that she would be safe and would not have to see the perpetrator at all. Heather was able to organise a familiarisation visit to the court and measures that meant Genna could give evidence without being in the same room as everyone else. Heather had also organised to go with Genna and be there every step of the way. This gave Genna the confidence to speak up about what happened to her and give evidence.
John & Paul
John is a young man who is starting out in life with a job, car and flat and a good social life. Paul leads a free lifestyle but is also vulnerable. He has been bullied by the local youngsters and has been in trouble with the police before. He buckles to peer pressure as he wants to fit in with the “normal” crowd and would therefore do anything to impress people and feel part of the crowd. Paul has a learning disability. He and John get on well together when they meet. John provides Paul with a positive role model which is that of an ordinary guy working hard and trying to get on in life, while Paul has opened up a whole new world for John. John has found himself doing things that he never expected he would be doing e.g. liaising with Paul’s consultant and college tutors and researching other activities for Paul to be engaging in.
Lesley & Cara
Lesley’s advocate Cara has written twice to raise concerns about the staffing levels in the residential home where Lesley lives. She is very concerned that Lesley does not get out enough and engage in social activities outside the care home due to insufficient staffing levels. Lesley does not have any verbal communication, and is therefore unable to raise these issues herself. Cara has spent several years getting to know Lesley and how she communicates, and uses this as the basis for speaking up on behalf of Lesley. Cara continues to speak up on behalf of Lesley whenever there are issues of concern in the care home. Lesley has no family to do this for her and so without Cara she would have nobody to ensure that she receives a good standard of care.
George & Kevin
Kevin had recently moved to Fife and was still attending a college outwith Fife. He felt he wasn’t ready to make the move to a new college, however he was starting to have issues with the college he was attending. Kevin has autism as well as other health issues that can often stop him doing any physical activity. Kevin’s attendance had dropped but this was because of his health issues, however the college kept marking him as unknown absent which meant his EMA payments kept being stopped. Kevin’s parents had tried explaining to the college about his health issues but felt the college did not want to listen.
George was able to speak to the college on behalf of Kevin and explain clearly that it was not always his fault he could not make college. George was able to explain that although Kevin was not in the area for college he was so committed to going that he made the 3 and half hour round journey to college every day by bus and that there was only a few times due to health he couldn’t make it.
There had been mis-communication between everyone and after George’s talks with the family and the college, Kevin was able to amend his Learning Agreement with the college to factor in his health issues.
Diane & Louise
After becoming a Citizen Advocate 9 months ago, Diane has found a new friend with whom she shares good times and also some serious moments. She forgets that her partner has a learning disability because they get on so well. Louise was depressed and got very down because she didn’t have any friends and didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. Although her family are very supportive, she didn’t always want to spend time with them and at 19 she was becoming isolated and lonely. Her confidence is now increasing and she has a lifeline in Diane whom she can text, chat, go for meals, to the cinema and shopping. Louise has started to confide in Diane and is starting to tell her how she feels. Louise still has periods where she becomes depressed but Diane knows her well enough now that she can recognise the signs and make sure that she has extra contact with her at these vulnerable times. On Diane’s suggestion, they intend to start a new evening class together – something that Louise would have liked to have done in the past but had nobody to go with. This is a good way for Louise to get to know some more local people with a similar interest to herself.
Beryl & Agnes
Agnes had lived in Lynebank Hospital for some years when there was no one to look after her after her mother died. She then moved into a flat in Dunfermline with staff support and in 2001 was introduced to Beryl, who has been her Citizen Advocate ever since. They shared a love of animals and walking Beryl’s dogs together was the focus for establishing their partnership.
After 3 years, Agnes’ mobility deteriorated and she had to move to a more accessible flat – this meant a move to Kirkcaldy, to unfamiliar surroundings and staff. Agnes found the move very unsettling and Beryl found herself speaking up for Agnes to ensure as much continuity as possible in Agnes’ care and support. Beryl’s close relationship with Agnes meant she was able to confidently represent Agnes and express her concerns and wishes.
Over the years Beryl has always been there at Agnes’ care review meetings, has accessed help to obtain mobility allowance and a blue badge, and has sourced funding and support to allow Agnes to go on holidays. The two meet regularly and enjoy each other’s company immensely, whether they are just having a cuppa in each other’s homes, are out and about for lunch, going to the cinema, or celebrating birthdays and Christmas. ‘We are friends for life!’ says Beryl.