Citizen Advocacy is the name given to the committed relationship between a suitable citizen who provides long-term advocacy to a person with a disability (referred to as a protégé – one who is protected) so that they are no longer entirely alone and unprotected given their relatively powerless circumstances. Vulnerable persons with a disability who are without family or friends are especially in need of at least one loyal long-term ally who is single mindedly committed to them.
This has been shown to be the strongest safeguard for protecting the very life of a person with an intellectual disability. Otherwise such a person without a strong sense of consequence and ‘living’ within the confines of a service system is completely exposed to the vagaries of that service system and its ever changing policies, agendas and identities.
Advocates and protégés are recruited, matched and supported by the staff of a Citizen Advocacy office or program.
Citizen Advocacy offices need paid staff because most citizen advocates would never get recruited and supported if the staff of a Citizen Advocacy office were not there.
Many advocates have been faithful companions to their protégés for decades and have saved them from terrible situations; many have saved the very lives of their protégés, and sometimes on repeated occasions.
Citizen Advocacy offices are free-standing associations, and they are always of a non-profit nature. While each Citizen Advocacy office offers information, advice and guidance to the citizen advocates it has recruited, it does not conduct the advocacy itself; rather each individual advocate does. Thus the name Citizen Advocacy.