What is Advocacy?

Every person with an intellectual disability has the right to have their voice heard. Advocacy is about speaking up. The word “advocacy” comes from the Latin “advocare” - meaning “to call”. 

Advocacy can be defined as:

Taking action to enable people to express what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests, and obtain services they need. Advocates and advocacy services work in partnership with the people they support and take their side. Advocacy promotes social inclusion, equality, and social justice. 

There are a number of different types of Advocacy:
  • Public Policy Advocacy
  • Representative Advocacy
  • Self Advocacy
  • Parent Advocacy
  • Peer Advocacy
  • Citizen Advocacy
(Source Inclusion Ireland 2013)

Advocacy in CoAction

In CoAction we believe in “Nothing About us Without Us”.   This means that nothing should be decided about people’s lives without full direct participation of people affected by the decision(s).  We believe people are the experts in their own lives and they must be the people who tell us what they want and how we can support them.  

Advocacy can mean different things to different people; for some people it can be picking out a picture of what they want for dinner, this is very strong advocacy.  For other people it can be about telling services what they are doing well and doing wrong and helping to make things better for everyone.  For other people it is about saying who they want to support them and what they want to do.   

We believe personal development is a big part of advocacy, people must know what they want for themselves before they can advocate. Getting to know yourself and what you want can be hard when people have been telling you what to do for a long time.  We have found that people get stronger and stronger at advocating the more chances they get to speak out, this is called “capacity building”.  Providing services for people can be difficult at times, trying to decide what people want and making hard decisions sometimes.  We have found that working together with people who are using services makes this job easier.  We don’t have to have all the answers, we can all work together to make the best decisions.

For more information on the different types of Advocacy, please click the links below: