Just leaving aside our discussion of Principles for a moment (we’ll be coming back to them), we have Bob Lee back with his delightfully clear and straight forward style discussing Who is the Advocate?
Where do you find these people? This is a question often asked of Citizen Advocacy Coordinators who often just don’t know where to start explaining. The question is usually based on the assumption that Citizen Advocacy programs recruit from lists of volunteers who contact the office to apply to become citizen advocates. Well it’s really not like that at all. The success of Citizen Advocacy comes from having an exhaustive process of getting to know about a person with disability, making careful judgements about what is happening in their life which should not be happening, and thinking about what that person needs to have a better, safer and more secure life.
Once that thinking has been done, the big question is asked…..Who is the Advocate?
In other words, without looking at any list of applicants, we build a profile of someone who might have the characteristics, experience and attributes which will serve them well in taking on the role of making that vulnerable person’s life less lonely, more satisfying, more secure and a lot less vulnerable. So, what happens then? Well it’s simple really. We go looking for someone who matches that profile. When we find them, we tell them about the person who needs them in their life. Sometimes they say no, but often….very often, they say yes. So begins something truly wonderful.