Getting Help Through an Advocate

It can be difficult to say what you want to say when you are dealing with health, care or education professionals. Where these situations feel intimidating or you are concerned you are not going to be able to say what you want, an independent advocate can help.  

What is an advocate?

An advocate is an independent professional who is on your side. They can support you to have your say and know your rights. 

Advocates don’t work for the council, the NHS, or care providers. When you work with an advocate, they will keep things confidential. You don’t need to pay for an advocate. 

How can an advocate help?

An advocate will: 

  • listen to what you think about what’s happening to you 
  • help you say what you want and don’t want 
  • help you understand information about your situation 
  • explain your options 
  • plan with you about what to do next 


An advocate will not 

  • offer counselling or befriending 
  • offer legal advice 
  • make decisions for you 
  • tell you what to do 

How can I access an independent advocate?

In some cases, your local authority will have a duty to arrange and pay for an independent advocate for you. This is called statutory advocacy. 

For this, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • You would have a ‘substantial difficulty’ in being able to act for yourself. This could be because you have trouble either understanding and remembering information, communicating your opinions and feelings, or being able to judge the pros and cons well when making decisions. 
  • You do not have a suitable friend or relative who could act as an advocate for you. 

If you meet both of these criteria, the local authority have a legal duty to provide you with an independent advocate. In Bedfordshire this is provided by Voiceability