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Local authorities need to make sure there are enough independent advocacy services to support vulnerable people.  The new Care Act 2014, which came into force from April 2015, requires all councils to change their approach from providing services to promoting people’s individual wellbeing and providing opportunities to choose the support they want to keep well. This means thinking about people in terms of their lives and relationships, understanding their views, wishes and feelings and involving them in every decision made about them.  In Solihull this is part of our Lives not Services approach.

We work with local organisations commissioning support that helps people to stay well and active and safe from harm. We need to help people exercise as much choice and control over their lives as possible.  The Care Act 2014 recognises that some people can have substantial difficulty in being involved in the process of decision making in respect of their care and support needs. Some will not have an appropriate individual to support them in this. We commission advocacy support in a way that requires independent advocacy organisations to work together to support local people’s rights under the Care Act 2014.

Non-Statutory and Statutory Advocacy – What is the difference?

All people are very different from each other. Their needs for support are different, and may change during their life. A variety of advocacy has developed to recognise these differences.

What is common to all types of advocacy is that the person who it is for (eg: a person with a learning disability) is always at the centre of the advocacy process. It is all about what that person wants, and finding the best way of getting that across to the people who need to know.

Advocacy can be like tools in a tool box, the different types can be used together or separately depending on the job that needs to be done.

Non-Statutory Advocacy: It tends to be informal and a person can self refer themselves. The type of advocacy used, and when, depends on what is best suited to the person who seeks support. A single person may ask for different types of advocacy support at different times in their life.

In Solihull we use general advocacy, peer groups, case advocacy, person–centred support and general information and advice. We encourage people to volunteer and provide training to enable people to support colleagues and friends.

People say that being part of a self advocacy group or getting support from an advocate is a really important part of being able to take control of their lives.

Statutory Advocacy: Government policy is clear that people should be able to be active citizens and have a say about how things work where they live. It also recognises that some people need support to make this happen.

There are specific rights in law for advocacy in some circumstances:

  • The Mental Capacity Act 2005: this provides a statutory framework for acting and making decisions on behalf of individuals who lack the mental capacity to do so for themselves. The independent Mental Capacity advocate (IMCA) service supports people who lack capacity and who have no family or friends to support them when serious decisions are taken in their lives; and
  • The Mental Health Act 2007: arrangements will be made to provide independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHA) for ‘qualifying’ patients in England.
  • Care Act 2014: independent advocate to facilitate the involvement of a person in their assessment, in preparation of their care and support plan and review of their care plan if certain conditions met.

Advocacy Providers in Solihull

SAASolihull Action through Advocacy

Solihull Action through Advocacy is an independent charity providing free independent one to one advocacy for people with learning disabilities who are in crisis or have important decisions to make affecting their lives. We receive funding from a variety of sources and are pleased to receive regular financial support from Solihull Council to continue our vital work. We facilitate a group of people with Learning disabilities to visit residential care homes to give an independent perspective and ensure residents get the chance to have their say. We are also active members of Solihull safeguarding adults board and learning disability partnership board. We run a number of small projects and in recent feedback from our young people involved in a Children in Need project comments included “ I enjoyed team work and building bridges” , “the workshops have made me much more self-confident” and another said “every part has been my favourite bit”

Liam, one of our graduate Experts by Experience, is now working for this organisation.

DIAL Solihull

DIAL Solihull is a registered Charitable Organisation run by people with disabilities for the benefit of people with disabilities. They offer free, impartial and confidential information and advice service and an advocacy service as defined in the Care Act 2014.

The charity was established in January 1987 by a group of disabled volunteers. Initially the service was offered from The Lowbrook Day Centre. The service moved in 1999 to its current location in north Solihull.

They offer their services from a number of venues around the Borough.

Service users must be residents of Solihull (i.e. pay their council tax to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council).

“Here at DIAL, we are gradually observing an emerging gap in services. The gap represents the numbers of physically disabled people across the borough who meet the criteria for Adult Social Care, and the numbers of referrals currently being made for Care Act Advocacy on their behalf. Not only this, but Care Act referrals for carers are also currently not being submitted.  This is not just a problem for Solihull Borough, it is reflected nationwide and DIAL is working with the Local Authority to ensure that social workers are made aware it is their statutory duty to refer for Care Act Advocacy”.

Independent Advocacy

Independent Advocacy is a charitable company, operating since 1992 providing a comprehensive range of specialist Advocacy and related services across Solihull (with the aims of?…) Representing the interests of people who may find it difficult to be heard or speak out for themselves. Providing a voice to people who need support to make choices because of disadvantages due to frailty, disability or financial or social circumstances, also enabling their individual needs and views to be respected and acted upon. They provide statutory, hospital and community Mental Health Advocacy services in Greater Solihull.

Provision of this service is a statutory right to qualifying detained patients under the Mental Health Act 2007.

Solihull Mind

Solihull Mind is the local voluntary sector group for mental health in the borough of Solihull, in existence for twenty years, providing a wide range of services. Solihull Mind sees mental health as an essential part of the general health of the community & they seek to improve the quality, quantity, and accessibility of services for people with emotional distress.

They provide information about different forms of emotional distress, possible ways of preventing or managing them, where to look for help, and advice on legal and other rights; encouraging the involvement of Mind, other mental health groups, and particularly service users, in the planning and provision of services; and by providing quality, innovative local services which include one to one and group work, supported housing, as well as employment and recreational activities.

The overall aim of Solihull Mind is to promote the interests of, and provide support to, people with mental health problems.