This page has advice on advocacy, and how you can get more advice or advocacy support in Sheffield.

Advocacy means getting support from another person to help you express your views and wishes, and help you stand up for your rights. Someone who helps you in this way is called your advocate.

The advocate role changes depending on what decisions you’re making and the support you need in the decision making.   

An advocate may:

  • listen to your views and concerns.
  • help you explore your options and rights (without pressuring you).
  • provide information to help you make informed decisions.
  • help you contact relevant people, or contact them on your behalf.
  • accompany you and support you in meetings or appointments.

An advocate will not:

  • give you their personal opinion.
  • solve problems and make decisions for you.
  • make judgements about you.

The support of an advocate is often very useful to help you prepare and attend meetings when you might not feel confident to express yourself.

They can:

  • support you to ask all the questions you want to ask.
  • make sure all the points you want covered are included in the meeting.
  • explain your options to you without giving their opinion.
  • help keep you safe during the meeting – for example, if you find the meeting upsetting, your advocate can ask for a break until you feel able to continue.

What kind of decisions can an advocate support me with?

Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) can help you to obtain information and understand:

  • your rights under the Mental Health Act.
  • the rights which other people (such as your nearest relatives) have.
  • any medical treatment you are receiving or might be given.
  • the reasons for that treatment or proposed treatment.

An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) must be appointed when a person has been assessed as lacking the mental capacity to take particular kinds of decision such as:

  • long term move.
  • adult safeguarding enquiries.
  • care reviews.
  • when someone is being ‘deprived of their liberty’ (also known as DoLS) for their own good. For example, a person in a care home may be deprived of their liberty where it would not be safe for them to be free to leave when they wish.

IMCAs also make sure that the professionals involved follow the Mental Capacity Act 2005 correctly, to safeguard the person’s rights. IMCAs can access the person’s health and social care records to gather information about the person’s care and treatment to use to support the person.

The Care Act 2014 says that councils must think about if a person needs independent advocacy to support them to be involved for things like:

  • when they are carrying out an assessment of an adult to see what care and support they might need (an adult’s needs assessment).
  • when they are carrying out an assessment to see if someone who provides care for someone else needs support (a carer’s assessment).
  • when they are carrying out an assessment of a child who is becoming an adult to see what care and support they might need (a child’s needs assessment).
  • when they are writing what is in an adult’s care plan or checking what is in it.
  • when they are carrying out a safeguarding enquiry or a safeguarding adults review.

Sometimes people who have been assessed to lack the mental capacity to decide about their care and where they live are legally ‘deprived of their liberty’, for example, a person in a care home may be deprived of their liberty where it would not be safe for them to be free to leave when they wish. In this situation, the local authority (also known as the Supervisory Body) is legally required to provide an independent check to make sure that the person is only restricted enough to keep them safe and that this is in their best interests. If the Supervisory Body  authorises the deprivation of liberty, they must also appoint a representative for the person.  This can be a family member or friend, or sometimes can be an advocate acting as a paid representative.

You have the right to make a complaint about any aspect of NHS care, treatment or service, and this is an important part of the NHS Constitution. An advocate can support you with this by:

  • providing information about how to put in a complaint yourself using a tailored self-help information pack.
  • helping you understand the process and what you might realistically achieve.
  • talking you through your options to help you make a decision.
  • writing letters.
  • preparing for meetings.
  • following up responses.

Advocacy support for people who have a diagnosed learning disability who are using or need to access health or social care services in the city.

How can I access advocacy services?

If you need an advocate for yourself, friends or family, contact the Sheffield Advocacy Hub.

Sheffield Advocacy Hub.

Call: 0800 035 0396.


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