Advocacy Wales Announces Closure
Following a significant period where funding has been unavailable, Advocacy Wales trustees met recently to discuss its future. The meeting was informed by a report that it had commissioned, outlining realistic options based on survey and interview data. The report “What Next for Advocacy Wales?
” clearly showed that advocacy organisations across Wales do not feel that they are listened to by public bodies (for example, only 7% of responses said they felt properly listened to by Welsh Government). In response to the question, “Do you believe government & public bodies in Wales have a clear understanding of independent advocacy?” not a single respondent indicated that this was completely the case.Advocacy Wales aimed to promote efficiency, effectiveness and good practice in independent advocacy. Having brought together advocacy providers across a range of geographical areas and client groups, Advocacy Wales produced agreement on relevant quality standards for advocacy providers and formally adopted Action for Advocacy’s Code of Practice for Advocates, producing a clearly agreed definition of advocacy across Wales. It was named as the strategic advocacy lead in delivering “The Third Way”, the Welsh Government’s vision for the future of the third sector in Wales.Advocacy Wales has previously survived on a small membership fee and the voluntary time of a number of committed trustees. It has had no core funding, no external funding and no paid workers. Recent pressures within the advocacy sector have left Advocacy Wales members facing financial constraints and uncertain futures, making them unable to fund Advocacy Wales to a significant level. The report suggested that it was unlikely that members could generate funding that would support a meaningful level of work. This has left Advocacy Wales willing but unable to meet the challenges that currently face the advocacy sector in Wales. Advocacy Wales trustees have therefore regretfully decided to wind up the organisation.
An information sharing forum for advocacy managers has been set up on Linked in. and this will be moderated by Martin Coyle, author of the options paper. Anyone wishing to join this group should email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are clearly problems with the way that public bodies understand independent advocacy and in the way in which they engage with advocacy providers. Significant changes in the commissioning of and right to independent advocacy are happening at present, most notably in the roll-out of the Social Services and Well-being Act (2014). Without clear understanding of advocacy, there is a risk that these changes will not have their desired results. Advocacy Wales has not been able to develop a robust level of engagement with Welsh Government to support the implementation of the right to advocacy. We now call upon the advocacy sector, public bodies and particularly the Welsh Government to develop consultation mechanisms and means of engagement to ensure that this crucial piece of legislation is the success that so many people need it to be.