Community Powered Advocacy

In this film, Andy Bradley and Clare Wightman present the case for community powered advocacy and invite you to become involved in the debate about the future of advocacy.

5 Responses to Community Powered Advocacy

  1. Neil Mapes says:

    Thank you both for starting this blog and discussion, which I feel is at the heart of the challenge facing our society currently. With the wider emphasis on choice and control amidst austerity measures there feels a natural role for community powered advocacy. I had the pleasure of evaluating a community advocacy project in Ukraine a couple of years back where there is no statutory advocacy. I witnessed committed citizens going out physically into community locations and finding others in need of advocacy, passionate people taking direct action and helping others speak up.
    Neil Mapes

  2. Thank you – an excellent, thought-provoking film. I have long been concerned that the personal impacts of advocacy are being overshadowed by undue emphasis on ‘issues’. At its extreme, this carries the risk of advocacy dissolving an imitation of legal advice or social work – both honourable professions, but not what advocacy was ever meant to be. However, there are challenges in adopting a community- and relationships-driven approach, for relationships and communities can be bad as well as good. How do we ensure benefit and consistency? Whatever the answers, I’m really pleased you are having the debate!

  3. Glenn Gibbs says:

    Hi. Its Glenn from Total Voice Lincolnshire(VoiceAbility)

    The recent meeting was very inspiring for me in my work in developing services in Lincolnshire. It was great to see that I was not the only person thinking that way.The videos you have provided are going to be a focus of a team meeting soon and I was wondering if Andy could come and really inspire the team with his community vision to back up some of the work me and Helen (my manager) are doing. It would be really useful for them to see that this is real and not just our ideas as most of our staff have been working in statutary advoacay for some time and may need a little push to see the bigger picture. Could you let us know if a visit is possible and what it would cost for your time.


  4. clare wightman says:

    Thanks Laurence for some very interesting questions. They are also big questions especially the last one and I’ll resist writing an essay. For me the question is what is the goal of advocacy? If the goal of advocacy is to achieve a power shift in the lives of, for example, learning disabled people, then one of its most important activities is community building. Without a circle of people in our lives who are willing to be alongside us, in our corner, we remain isolated and without power.

    It is hard to see how some of the current advocacy models/trends will achieve that power shift
    •Statutory advocacy roles have developed which clarify the right of small numbers of people in specific circumstances to get only a narrowly defined kind of advocacy
    •Commissioning increasingly drives advocacy schemes into short-term issue- based fast turnover spokesmanship
    •Professionalisation narrows the pool of those who, in the eyes of the service system, can legitimately ‘represent’ you

    Are these the conditions through which we genuinely empower people?

    Are we changing the power dynamics in people’s lives so that they can be seen and heard and stand on safe ground when our scarce paid advocates are not there?

    Another thought that occurs to me is that shifting power in the lives of people vulnerable to always being pushed to the bottom and the edge never occupying the safe centre of our culture is complex. And complexity does not need ‘expert professionals’ whose thinking – in a context that is complex – tends to be become entrained and hard to shift.

    Your implication is right – what we are describing is less of a direct service than an indirect one – one that facilitates and develops rather than directly provides and yes I do think Grapevine has a role here – we know the kind of power shift we want to see won’t ‘just happen’ – and all our projects are based on that kind of developmental approach.

    A different kind of society? I don’t see individuals taking the place of the State in what I’m describing. Rather it is about mobilising people to do what only people can do.

  5. Laurence Tennant says:

    I think this is an interesting and timely debate given the current Goverments stance . Thanks for providing the opportunity for discussion. What is the distinction between “Community Powered Advocacy” and Community empowerment , or Community Development ? Im not sure I understand whether a “service ” is being given , or whether the community is being given a “Nudge” (to borrow an expression) to act differently. Do organisations like Grapevine have a role in it at all ( and if so what is it ), or is it ultimately an emergent property of a different kind of society ?

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