What is Advocacy

Advocacy Service Aberdeen helps people take more control of their lives and actively participate in decision making by helping them to know and understand their rights and the situation that they are in; to consider the options that are available to them; to express their views and wishes and to make informed choices.

Our work is underpinned by SIAA’s Principles and Standards and our service users are always in control of the advocacy process and their wishes direct our work.


Independent Advocacy is advocacy provided by an organisation whose main function is advocacy. It is recognised that there may be times in an individual’s life when they need or want someone to advocate for them who has no other role to play in their lives and where there are therefore no barriers to the person being wholly on their side.


Has no conflict of interest – there should be no conflicting interests that limit the action of advocates and advocacy projects. Advocates have to have ‘freedom to act’: to be on someone’s side, advocates have to be structurally and psychologically independent of the service system.

Has no ‘professional view’ – Advocates do not have a view about what is ‘best’ for someone – they support people through providing information and support to decide what’s best themselves.

How can an independent advocate help?

Independent advocates are guided by the people they work with and can help in different ways, including:

  • Helping people to know and understand their rights
  • Discussing things the person does not understand
  • Giving practical help – e.g. filling in forms, writing letters, assisting people to make advanced statements, accessing information, etc.
  • Supporting people in meetings, consultation, tribunals
  • Helping people to get answers to their questions
  • Encouraging them to make their views and anxieties known
  • Enabling people to become involved in decisions
  • Making sure they know what to do if they are not satisfied

The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance explains:

“Independent Advocacy is a way to help people have a stronger voice and to have as much control as possible over their own lives. Independent Advocacy organisations are separate from organisations that provide other types of services. An independent advocate will not make decisions on behalf of the person/group they are supporting. The independent advocate helps the person/group to get the information they need to make real choices about their circumstances and supports the person/group to put their choices across to others. An independent advocate may speak on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves.” Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance www.SIAA.org.uk

Some people have a right to independent advocacy. The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 gives everyone with a mental disorder a right to independent advocacy. Find out more about The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act