Larry Gardiner

Citizen Advocacy practitioner

Based in
Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Also teaches in All over the UK and the rest of the world!
Larry Gardiner | Citizen Advocacy practitioner

Rates: Sliding scale ensures that ability to pay is a problem we can solve together

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I love my job! It's the best job in the world. Every day I get the chance to make a difference; often in just very small ways. I work as a citizen advocate by helping people to speak up and to advocate for themselves, by helping them to develop common cause through peer-advocacy partnerships. Anyone can learn how to become more effective as an advocate for themselves and for their loved ones. Getting control over events in our lives can frequently be helped when we learn how to get the response and reaction we need from the other people around us. This is a skill. It can be learned. When we learn how to do this we empower ourselves to become more effective.

A great many of us feel like the world is a difficult place. We struggle everyday to do our best for our families and for ourselves but most of the time we can never be sure if all that time, trouble and effort is going to pay off. We sometimes feel that we have unwittingly become victims in all of life's daily dramas. We often get to feel that we have been treated unfairly. Most of us, most of the time just wish that there was something we could to to get things under control. All of us really want to have our lives under our own direction; a direction we have chosen personally! In all honesty I can't promise that you will suddenly be able to solve all of life's problems but it is certainly possible to improve the quality of your life. When we speak up and when we speak out we create the possibility to get more control in our lives. If you scroll down to the middle of this page you can book now to take one or two short 'taster sessions' in Citizen Advocacy. This is your chance to learn how anyone and everyone can use simple practical tools to get their lives under control. There's nothing complicated about this.

Citizen Advocate practitioners do not make a charge for the assistance they provide to their advocacy partners or service users. Those people who are looking to find an advocate to help them should contact the Advocacy Resources Exchange at to locate a FREE Citizen Advocacy practitioner in their own area. Coalitions, local networks and advocacy rights hubs are becoming increasingly popular. If you live within reach of my home on Merseyside then there are additional FREE resources available at to refer you to a local practitioner. Families, parents and carers who have disabled dependents and specific advocacy requirements related to special educational needs, learning difficulties or disability can access FREE specialist advocacy support at or the Parent Advocates Together Facebook page.

This page is a resource for individuals who are intending to prepare themselves for a career in Citizen Advocacy and who are looking for training programmes and 1:1 lessons. Furthermore charges for lessons or classes in Citizen Advocacy are also deliberately kept at an affordable level so as to encourage large numbers of people to learn how to become a practitioner. Initial sessions are therefore FREE of charge. Those individuals who commence training are eligible to a reduced rate at 50% of the standard lesson fee. Programmes of 1:1 classes can be arranged lasting from 16 to 20 weeks at a modest cost. Supervison sessions are also available to support Citizen Advocacy practitioners in their work. All charges are calculated at cost and a contribution to any eventual expenses or materials may be requested depending on the type of programme enrolled in.

Citizen Advocacy: What to do and how to do it! All the tools and resources you will need to learn how to become a Citizen Advocacy practitioner can be found here. You can even start your journey for FREE because each month there will be a limited number of Citizen Advocacy Scoping Sessions available without cost. Our growing Citizen Advocacy practitioner community is also supported by Facebook support groups open to everyone. Resources, useful links and events are listed on this page together with courses and taster sessions that you can access at very reasonable cost. To find out more just click the 'resources' or 'events' tab at the page header or you can also click the 'reviews' tab to find out what people have said about the value of this work. There is also a network for citizen advocates and for advocacy practitioners which you will find on the 'links' tab. Just feel free to download and use any of these resources without charge. More information is only a few clicks away or please just send me a message and I'll get in touch.

The starting point in Citizen Advocacy is to try and deal with things effectively at the earliest possible opportunity. We start by learning to identify risks before they become an issue; we also learn to sort out important issues before they become problems; we work to address problems before a dispute arises; we also try and resolve disputes before entering into a complaint process; we try and get complaints dealt with responsively before taking legal advice; and we attempt a mediation before seeking a remedy from the courts. If a situation requires litigation and all other avenues have been explored and exhausted, then the eventual prospect of a successful outcome is frequently more likely than if nothing constructive has been attempted in the first place. All too often our problems are the result of burying our heads in the sand. We tend to put off dealing with risks and we just hope that they will go away. When a risk becomes an issue we frequently avoid dealing with it because we are understandably nervous and because we frequently lack the confidence to do what has become necessary. Give me a call and let's meet up if any or all of the following apply to YOU:

1. YOU want to make changes that will improve life for your family, your friends and your loved ones!
2. YOU want more control over events in your own life and you want to communicate more effectively when you speak up or when you speak out!
3. YOU want to make changes that will improve the situation in your neighbourhood and in your community!
4. YOU want practical help and support with making specific things happen right now!
5. YOU are already taking on issues as a Citizen Advocate and you want to some caseload supervision and coaching or you'd prefer to exchange peer support as part of a Citizen Advocacy network!

Group Classes

Advanced Practitioner Residential Weekend

This programme, which is subsidised to reduce the cost, will give Citizen Advocacy caseload managers and service coordinators the chance to develop their skills and be part of a comprehensive management training programme.

Topics Covered:

What is management?
What is project management?
Management vs. leadership
Theories of management
Skills of effective management
Strategic management for advocacy organisations
Mobilising and organising group advocacy campaigns
Self-assessment: Am I a good manager?

Fees include all workshop materials but do not include accommodation. Preferential rates are available at participating hotels. A list of modestly priced B&B accommodation is also available for each location.

It's a: 
Oxford, Manchester Newcastle and London
To be confirmed, England, United Kingdom
Date and time: 
To be arranged

Intermediate Citizen Advocacy Practitioner Skills

This workshop is aimed at Citizen Advocacy practitioners who have completed a course of 1:1 lessons and who are enrolled in regular practitioner supervision.

This professional development workshop is designed to explore the issues that practitioners encounter in their work and there will be time available for each individual to obtain support and to work with related issues in small facilitated groups.

Workshops this year are are planned for Hastings, Oxford and Liverpool. Additional locations are planned in coming year as well. The workshops will be led by Larry Gardiner.

A full day workshop programme is offered including lunch and all refreshments.

It's a: 
To be arranged
Liverpool, Hastings and Oxford, England, United Kingdom
Date and time: 
To be arranged


Volunteer Citizen Advocacy Practitioner: Citizen Rights Hub

Definitions of Advocacy

Advocacy is not new, and it is part of everyday life. People advocate (or speak up) everyday for themselves, for their children, for their relatives and for their friends. Concerned individuals advocate for people whose rights are particularly vulnerable and whose contribution as citizens is undervalued. There is a spectrum or continuum of advocacy, which ranges from legal advocacy through to the informal support and/or encouragement of a friend.

In addition to groups that specifically describe themselves as ‘advocacy’ organisations, there are a host of others that also provide some type of ‘advocacy’. Some of the latter, like many ordinary citizens, might not consider themselves as ‘advocating’ for someone. Very often, these forms of ‘advocacy’ have just evolved organically. Lawyers and advice providers obviously advocate to some extent for their clients, but would not necessarily use the word ‘advocacy’ in their title. Family members, carers and friends often have to take on the role of advocate. There are other supports that, although related to advocacy, are not the same thing.

Although each of the different forms of advocacy is distinct, there are links between them. No person’s needs are addressed entirely by one form of advocacy, and needs change. People should have different options available to them to meet their various needs.

The Liverpool Advocacy Rights Hub

Liverpool City Council has commissioned Liverpool Citizen Advocacy to develop a FREE and independent Advocacy Rights Hub for the city. This is recognition by the City Council and its partners that many people need a range of supports, including independent advocacy, if they are to have an effective voice when facing new opportunities and challenges and making choices that affect vital areas of their lives. This is particularly important in a period when personalisation of services will have an enormous impact on the lives of some of the most isolated members of our communities.

The Advocacy Rights Hub will also have a specific role in ensuring that whenever FREE and independent advocacy is provided, it is be to a set of agreed principles and standards. This will include having a mechanism for dealing with any conflicts of interest that might affect the real or perceived independence of the advocate. The Hub’s Principles and Ethics Committee will be the guarantor of advocacy being independent of the service system. In order to achieve this, the Hub will develop robustly independent management structures.

Feb 2010

Advisor: Coram Life Education Steering Committee

Life Education is the UK's largest children's health education charity, providing a comprehensive range of high quality and evidence-based services appropriate to the needs of primary school children. Our specially trained Educators have a number of ways of working with schools and different year groups – from a visit by our own mobile classroom to exciting interactive activities specially designed to work in the school's own facilities.

Our work is most effective when integrated with other community-based initiatives aimed at improving the wellbeing of children and young people. This is why each of our local groups endeavours to work in partnership with the local business community, the media and with local voluntary and statutory partners.

Life Education has now merged with Thomas Coram Foundation, Britain's oldest voluntary sector children's organisation. I have been advising the board and regional trust directors and assisting them with post merger integrations issues and with service development projects.

Apr 2009

Learning Group Member: Common Purpose

The world is changing: and leaders must change with it. As organisations develop increasingly complex internal structures and external relationships - working across cultures, borders and boundaries - the leader’s ability to lead both across and outside their organisation becomes ever more important.

So how do leaders learn to lead now? When they have succeeded within their own world - yet find themselves surrounded by a host of new and unfamiliar faces, audiences and challenges? When they do not feel they have the legitimacy to lead anything or anyone outside the authority they believe has been prescribed for them?

This situation requires a different kind of leadership. A different set of perceptions, skills and talents. And further leadership development, which encourages broader vision and the ability to operate across diverse worlds right from the outset.

Feb 2009

Parent Advocate Practitioner

I help individuals and groups of people to achieve their advocacy objectives through representations, campaigning and building campaign coalitions. As a member of the Citizen Advocacy Coalition, I also lead and facilitate a family advocacy network. My day-to-day activity as a parent advocate practitioner is focused on support for families, parents and carers with dependents who have disabilities, health conditions and children with special educational needs.

Some of this work involves acting as a lobbyist and campaigner with individuals and organisations who are advocating for structural and political change to end child poverty and to make sure that every disabled child matters. This work is designed to apply pressure and to develop influence within the democratic process locally, regionally, nationally and through international agencies and government departments. I am a trustee and a company director leading the development of a small dedicated advocacy collective called Parent Advocates Together.

In my spare time I also work as a public speaker, as a group facilitator, and as a management consultant, trainer and leadership coach with people who are developing the ability to lead beyond authority as change agents, community leaders, charity trustees and as non-executive directors. I am a member of the UK Charity Trustee Network. My principal interest is in working with people who are making a real difference in the communities where they live or work or conduct their business. If you would like me to do some of this work in your organisation, at your workplace, or in your community, then book some time with me for a chat.

As a member of the Social Audit Network, I work with organisations who hold themselves accountable to the communities they serve using multiple bottom line measures including ethical, ecological, community and social responsibility reports that complement financial reporting to stakeholders, shareholders and investors. I am part of a worldwide network of inspirational and transformational leaders who apply principled governance within their organisations, who work as non-executive directors or as organisation turn-around consultants; we focus on developing community engagement and social responsibility.

I like to work as a 'rainmaker' to make good thing happen and I like working as a change agent to help make things happen that wouldn't happen without this help. I like to work with individuals, groups and organisations who are advocating to make good things happen. Advocacy is a essentially a leadership activity. Advocacy is leading in any situation that contains the possibility to make good things happen. Advocacy frequently involves taking action in situations where we have no authority, where we have no defined role or responsibility but where we have identified an opportunity to make a good thing happen and have decided to ensure that it does! Board appointments, memberships and affiliations include:-

Parent Advocates Together,
The Family Advocacy Network,
Community Empowerment Network,
Citizen Advocacy Coalition,
The Citizen Advocacy Rights Hub,
Advocacy Resources Exchange,
Sefton Advocacy Forum,
The Child Rights Information Network,
Stichting Rainmaker Network (NL),
Humanitas (Netherlands),
Coram Life Education,
The Intelligence Network,
The Three Thinking Programme,
Common Purpose,
The National Advocacy Network,
The Project Magagement Institute,
Association of Project Managers,
Institute of Analysts and Programmers,
Social Audit Network,
British Computer Society,
The Fabian Society,
End Child Poverty.

Sep 2007

Company Secretary and Charity Trustee: Parent Advocates Together

Parent Advocates Together is a new, small, user-led independent advocacy organisation supporting parents, carers and families with disabled dependents and children with additional needs. We help families to have a voice and helping service users to have a choice. We help public sector, local authority and government organisations to become more accountable for compliance and good governance.

Company secretary role has oversight of the following portfolio:-
Legal Affairs
Human Resources
Regulation and Reporting
Donor Accountability
Public Relations
Information Technology

Jul 2007

Chair - Non-executive Director: Stichting Rainmaker Network NL

I like to work as a 'rainmaker' to make good things happen and I like working as a change agent to help make things happen that wouldn't happen without this help.

Rainmaker Network is a 'stichting' or a private charitable foundation and grant making trust dedicated to making good things happen by developing social capital. We are registered in the Netherlands and work with communities across Europe and in developing countries to address health inequalities, educational disavantage, multiple deprivation and to promote self-help through citizen advocacy and social enterprise. Responsibilities include serving as ambassador for the organisation; promoting the organisation's values, principles and standards developing strategy and policy; and ensuring good governance.

Jul 2006

Chair - Non-executive Director: Humanitas NL

Humanitas is Europe's largest humanist social work organisation. I have served as a 'bestuurslid' (non-executive) with Humanitas (Afdeling Eemland) based in Amersfoort. I worked to help the organisation relocate to new premises in Amersfoort and I facilitated development days for volunteers working with the Steun bij Rouwe Projekt (grief and bereavement counselling service). I also worked with immigrant communities across the Netherlands in the Van Inkomer tot Buurtbewoner Projekt (community integration for migrants).

Jan 2000 - Jan 2005

Chair - Non-executive Director: Vereniging Het Hallehuis NL

Het Hallehuis is an urban 'intentional community' located in Amersfoort, a city in the middle of the Netherlands. There are about forty residents living here in six groups. Each group is different and has it's own distinctive character and style. The residents together are members of the Hallehuis residents association.

The community occupies purpose built accomodation which is rented from a regional public housing corporation called SCW Alliantie.

Every community member has use of their own small apartment, usually a single room divided into a living and a sleeping area. Each of the six groups have use of their own communal kitchen and living areas. The whole community shares other resources and amenities, laundry room and gardens. Hallehuis facilities are also used by local musicians and members of the Hallehuis choir.

Open day events are organised at least twice each year to provide people with an opportunity to meet with us and have a look around. Vacancies occur throughout the year and these are advertised in the national and local press as well as on this website.

The Hallehuis has a lively social life with events staged either in our meeting room ( De Deel), on our roof terrace or in the garden.

Members of the Hallehuis are encouraged to take an active part in community life and join one of the large number of work groups which are responsible for organising events or which look after our communal facilities.

Our constitution provides for both consensual and representative democratic governance and decision making. The Hallehuis constitution is not based on or informed by any particular religious, political, philosophical or spiritual credo or dogma.

Nov 1999 - Feb 2005

Director ODA Programme: CODA Civic Development Project - South Africa

Managed programme of violence mitigation, humanitarian assistance and capacity building projects throughout transition from Apartheid regime to establishment of representative and accountable democracy. Assisted community groups and constituency representatives to mobilise around social change objectives using citizen advocacy tools and processes. Responsible for donor accountability with investment partners, governments and institutional funders including Friederich Ebert Stiftung, Olof Palme Instituut, Oxfam, USAID and UK Overseas Development Agency.

Nov 1993 - Feb 1995

Teacher of Re-evaluation Counselling

I love teaching re-evaluation counselling and have permission to teach. The following authoritative and informative abstract about RC has been reproduced from and all intellectual property rights are acknowledged. Visit the website for more resources.

"Re-evaluation Counseling is a theory of human behavior and set of procedures for solving human problems. It is a complex theory, still growing, containing a large amount of information in its details and techniques. Its main assumptions can be summarized:

Rational human behavior is qualitatively different from the behavior of other forms of life. (It is not just more complicated).

The essence of rational human behavior consists of responding to each instant of living with a new response, created afresh at that moment to precisely fit and handle the situation of that moment as that situation is defined by the information received through the senses of the person (other living creatures typically respond with preset, inherited response patterns--"instincts," or with conditioned, equally-rigid modifications or replacements of the inherited response patterns, acquired through experiences of stress).

This ability to create new, exact responses may be defined as human intelligence. It operates by comparing and contrasting new information with that already on file from past experiences and constructing a response based on similarities to past situations but modified to allow for the differences.

Each human with a physically undamaged brain has a large inherent capacity for this rational kind of behavior, very large as compared to the best functioning of presently observable adult humans.

The complexity of our central nervous systems (now estimated to contain at least one-thousand billion individual neurons and a number of possible states of relationship between these neurons larger than the number of atoms in the known universe) has brought us not only human intelligence of a very, very high level but also has conferred on us the capacity to be aware; to notice what is going on while it is going on, to think about the rational processes while they are taking place. This ability or function of awareness is very hard to define or describe, but humans are completely aware when it is present in another person or not, and enjoy it fully in themselves when it is operating.

This complexity of our central nervous systems has also conferred upon us complete freedom of decision. Even though this freedom is denied unendingly and emphatically by the societies in which we live, it still persists and is completely available to us. This complete freedom of decision is not just freedom to make a good decision, to make a rational decision, to make a correct decision. It is an unfettered freedom. We are completely free to make wrong decisions, destructive decisions, irrational decisions as well. Our freedom of choice is unfettered, unlimited.

This complexity has also conferred complete power on each individual, if we define power as the ability to have the universe respond to us in the way we rationally wish it to (not in the usual oppressive society's definition of power as "the ability to enforce our will upon other intelligences, other humans").

The natural emotional tone of a human being is zestful enjoyment of life. The natural relationship between any two human beings is loving affection, communication and co-operation.

The special human capacity for rational response can be interrupted or suspended by an experience of physical or emotional distress. When this occurs information input through the senses then stores as an unevaluated and rigid accumulation, exhibiting the characteristics of a very complete, literal recording of all aspects of the incident.

Immediately after the distress experience is concluded or at the first opportunity thereafter, the distressed human spontaneously seeks to claim the aware attention of another human. If he or she is successful in claiming and keeping this aware attention of the other person, a profound process of what has been called discharge ensues.

Discharge is signalized externally by one or more of a precise set of physical processes. These are: crying or sobbing (with tears), trembling with cold perspiration, laughter, angry shouting and vigorous movement with warm perspiration (tantrum), live, interested talking; and in a slightly different way, yawning, often with scratching and stretching. Discharge requires considerable time for completion.

During discharge, the residue of the distress experience or experiences is being recalled and reviewed. (Not necessarily with awareness.)

Rational evaluation and understanding of the information received during the distress experience occurs automatically following discharge and only following discharge. It occurs only to the degree that discharge is completed. On completion, the negative and anti-rational effects of the experience are completely eliminated.

As a result of long-term conditioning of the entire population, the spontaneous attempt to claim the aware attention of another person and proceed to discharge and evaluation is almost always rebuffed. (Don't cry. Be a big boy. Get a grip on yourself. Don't be afraid. Watch your temper.) Applied to small children, these rebuffs begin and perpetuate the conditioning of the population which prevents discharge.

Undischarged and unevaluated recordings of distress experiences become compulsive patterns of behaving, feeling, and verbalizing when restimulated by later experiences which resemble them strongly enough. Under such conditions of restimulation the rational faculty of the human is again suspended and the new information of the current experience is added to the rigid distress pattern making it more far-reaching in its effect and more easily restimulated in the future.

We have called the association of distress recordings from the past with the current scene, and the resulting rigid, "inappropriate" responses "restimulation." This kind of association must have been originally a decision, a decision apparently motivated by the hope that bringing up and "restimulating" the distress recordings would create a possibility of discharging them (if the attention of another person could be found or some other contradiction to the recordings could be achieved). The repetitive attempts at this kind of decision and the resulting lack of success (since we seldom found the resource of contradiction and resulting discharge we hoped for) tended to make restimulation into a "habit" and a pattern.

It is possible (and profitable) to decide not to be restimulated. Such a decision can be repeated as many times as necessary.

The effect of an undischarged distress experience recording in "playing" the bearer through a compulsive, repetitive re-enactment of distress experiences is an adequate explanation for all observable irrational behavior in human beings, of whatever kind or degree.

Any human being, and human beings in general, can become free of the restrictions, inhibitions and aberrations of accumulated distress experience recordings by reinstating a relationship with some other person's or persons' aware attention and allowing the discharge and re-evaluation processes to proceed to completion.

Any infant can be allowed to remain free of aberration by protection from distress experiences and by allowing full discharge and re-evaluation on the ones that do occur.

Though a greater degree of awareness, rationality, understanding and skill on the part of the person whose attention is used ("the second person," "the counselor") provides for more rapid and more complete discharge and re-evaluation, the process is workable if even a small degree of awareness is available and if even a roughly correct attitude is maintained by the second person.

By "taking turns," i.e., by exchanging the two roles periodically ("Co-Counseling"), two people can become increasingly effective with each other and help free each other from accumulated distress patterns to a profound degree.

Distress patterns which have become too reinforced by repeated restimulation can become chronic, i.e., surround and envelop all behavior and activity. To discharge these requires initiative, skill, and resource on the part of the second person and considerable time for handling, but they are not different in origin or effect from lighter distresses, and can also be completely discharged and evaluated.

Distress experiences result from any unfavorable aspect of the environment. In our present state of civilization, the bulk of early distress experiences of any child result exactly from the dramatized distress recordings of adults which the adults received from earlier generations when they were children. We have a sort of transmission of aberration by contagion here--well-meaning, adults unawarely but systematically infecting each new, healthy-to-begin-with child with their burdening distress patterns.

The irrationalities of society (enforcements, punishments, exploitations, prejudices, group conflicts, wars) are reflections of the individual human distress patterns which have become fossilized in the society and often enforced by the rigidities of the society itself.

No individual human has an actual rational conflict of interest with another human. No group of humans has an actual, rational conflict of interest with another group of humans. Given rationality, the actual desires of each individual and each group can best be served by mutual co-operation.

Nothing prevents communication, agreement, and co-operation between any humans except distress patterns. Given knowledge of their nature, these distress patterns can be coped with, handled, and removed.

Any individual or group can act rationally first without waiting for rational action on the part of someone else, and can take control of the situation by so doing.

It is always safe to be rational. Knowledge of the above information can be applied to all aspects of living and to all relationships with real profit and success.

Re-evaluation Counseling is a meaningful and useful description of the nature of human beings and the source of their difficulties. It is a rediscovery of the workable means of undoing human distress. It is a system of procedures for expediting this discharge and re-evaluation process. It is a promising and successful alternative to individual and social irrationality and distress.

"Re-evaluation Counseling," as a title, correctly denotes the collection of insights into the actual nature of reality which we have assembled as the result of our practice and thinking, in the areas of human thought and activities where this actual reality has been occluded or undiscovered as a result of lack of information, misinformation, distress patterns, and the operations of the oppressive societies."

Feb 1993


Aimed at: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
Online teaching offered


Courses, workshops, classes and practice supervision is offered at all levels in the practice of Citizen Advocacy.

What is Citizen Advocacy?

Advocacy helps you to have your say in what happens in your life! Advocacy is a way of supporting you in speaking out about what you need.

The Citizen Advocacy Vision

The Parent Advocates Together (PAT) vision is for every family, every carer and every parent of a disabled child or children with additional needs to have equal rights to choice, opportunity and respect, with the support they need to be treated as a full care partner by everyone and by every authority, every service provider and every agency.

PAT Advocacy Mission

• We speak for families, for carers and for parents. PAT is an advocate for all families. We want our children and our families to matter.
• We want our children and our adult disabled dependents to be included in every aspect of creating the kind of society they need.
• We want commitment to quality of life and equality of opportunity for every child and for every disabled adult in the country.
• We want genuine partnership with the professionals who deliver services for our families based on respect and true equality.

What is involved with Citizen Advocacy in practice?

There are several ways in which PAT can support parents, carers and other family members with advocacy:

PAT can arrange to put people in touch with trained professional advocates who will agree to help you speak out, to raise issues important to you and to negotiate ways of getting your needs met.

PAT can support parents to advocate as a group in meetings with statutory authorities, schools, hospitals and voluntary sector service providers.

PAT can support parents to develop self-advocacy skills so that we can advocate and negotiate more effectively for ourselves and for each other.

How can I get involved in group Citizen Advocacy and in providing mutual or collective self-help and support?

PAT represents the interests of families with with disabled dependents as part of the Citizen Advocacy Coalition Hub and the Children’s Rights Information Network.

PAT arranges regular meetings with representatives of public departments, with health and social care professionals, with primary care specialists and with service providers from organisations across the UK and increasingly through cooperation organised with support from EU agencies. PAT advertises these meetings and can arrange meetings for parents on issues which parents bring to the regular PAT support groups.

How can I learn how to advocate more effectively for myself and to support other parents by advocating with them?

PAT actively promotes the development of self-advocacy skills. We are always ready, willing and able to help families learn how to advocate effectively for the disabled dependents. The Advocacy Charter defines and promotes the following ten key advocacy principles:

• Clarity of Purpose
• Independence
• Putting People First
• Empowerment
• Equal Opportunity
• Accessibility
• Accountability
• Supporting Advocates
• Confidentiality
• Complaints

Who can help me to speak out and to take control?

Professional advocacy is covered by this charter of principles and a quality assurance process. PAT works with the Citizen Advocacy Coalition Hub to access advocacy for family members who are carers for disabled children. Trained advisors can help assess your needs with a 'carer’s needs assessment' and to apply for benefits. Trained advocates can support parents to negotiate for the services they needs to care for their children.

How can I get involved in Citzen Advocacy local action?

We want as many parents as possible to get involved in their own communities. We want parents to be involved in all kinds of Citizen Advocacy activities. Our aim is to have a whole range activities available including:-

• Safe places to get a load off your chest, to unload, to exchange mutual self help and support and to find friendship. Local parents meet regularly as Citizen Advocacy support groups.

• Local letter writing campaigns are designed to encourage NHS Acute Hospital Trusts, NHS local Primary Care Trusts, government and local authority departments, social services, statutory and voluntary service providers to respond to issues raised by families. Successes have already resulted in the adoption and implemention of the ‘Every Disabled Child Matters’ charter for disabled children by NHS Primary Care Trusts and by UK local authorities.

• Representing parents in local meetings to raise awareness of parent issues, to speak for parents and to advocate for changes that we see as necessary. PAT parents are members of the Community Empowerment Network, Sefton Advocacy Forum, Health and Social Care Forum, SAAPS, SOFAAS, Up-on Downs, PHAB, and the Citizen Advocacy Coalition Hub.

• Developing new skills and abilities as parent advocates and advisers and attending FREE training courses provided for parents by the Joint Training Partnerships.

• Group participation, representation and speaking for parent issues at meetings with Children's Services and Adult Social Care departments.

The PAT Advocacy Charter of Principles

The Advocacy Charter defines and promotes the following ten key advocacy principles:-

• CLARITY OF PURPOSE: This means we will be clear and honest about what we can and cannot do for YOU.
• PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST: This means we will ask YOU what you want to happen and give information for YOU to make choices.
• INDEPENDENCE: This means we can do the things that are important to YOU and not have to try to please other people or groups.
• SUPPORTING ADVOCATES: This means we will help and support advocates so we can advocate for you and help YOU speak out.
• ACCOUNTABILITY: This means we will have ways of checking what we do for you.
• ACCESSIBILITY: This means we will not ask you for money and we will use simple language and information that YOU can understand.
• EMPOWERMENT: This means we will help you to speak up for yourself and have YOUR say in how groups work.
• CONFIDENTIALITY: This means that we will keep information about you private and safe and not pass it on to people unless you have said we can.
• COMPLAINTS: This means you should be able to complain if you are unhappy with your advocate and have help from people outside the group to do this.
• EQUAL OPPORTUNITY: This means we will treat ALL people fairly and equally and have a policy that says how we will do this.

What are the Quality Standards and Code of Practice applicable to Citizen Advocacy practitioners?

Quality Standards for Advocacy Schemes and The Advocacy Code of Practice were developed in response to the Advocacy Charter.

The Action for Advocacy (A4A) Quality Standards for Advocacy Schemes are evidence based quality standards. They are an essential tool for developing and maintaining quality. They are the only nationally recognised generic quality standards specifically developed for the advocacy sector.

The Code of Practice is a set of guidelines for advocates aimed at providing clarity, support and boundaries for their practice. It offers a clear description of what is and is not expected of an advocate in their day to day work with service users.

What are the routes for becoming a Citizen Advocate practitioner?

People become advocate practitioners in different ways and for different reasons. There is no distinct career path and currently no recognised qualification, although there is work going on to develop one. A pilot qualification has been developed and is being trialled with collaboration from UK City and Guilds and Action for Advocacy.

What is the Volunteer Policy covering PAT Citizen Advocacy?

PAT does not currently have paid employees. PAT is run entirely by parent volunteers for the benefit of other parents. PAT offers a variety of Citizen Advocacy approaches and services to enable parents and carers to make informed choices, to express their views and to have full access to their rights, both for themselves and for their families.

PAT seeks to empower parents to advocate for themselves, for each other and on behalf of our constituency of families with disabled children. PAT is supported by an advisory panel comprising professionals with experience as advocates. PAT volunteers are managed by the PAT management committee and trustees and by a volunteer work group co-ordinator. PAT volunteer advocates agree to work according to an Advocacy Charter, the Advocacy Code of Practice and the Advocacy Quality Standards. The Advocacy Charter sets out principles for:-


What is the Role of a volunteer Citizen Advocate practitioner?

PAT advocates sometimes work on a one to one basis and sometimes we work with groups of people. Volunteers are often involved in supporting self-advocacy groups.

Typically, we work with an individual on a one to one basis to support them to resolve difficulties or problems, to enable them to take an action, during a change in their life, or whenever there is an identified issue and a point of closure. PAT advocates may have individual partnerships with parents on a long or short term basis.

A long term advocacy partnership focuses on supporting someone where it is difficult to identify their choices and the emphasis is identifying someone’s preferences by knowing them well and speaking up for them.

A short term advocacy partnership is supporting someone during a life change where there is a specific issue that people are asking for help with.

We match people together very carefully dependent upon the advocacy issue. Volunteers advocate for someone from their local community.

PAT advocates also facilitate regular parent support groups, parent consultations, parent participation programmes and capacity building activities for parents. This is generally group work, where people have a chance to talk about issues and to develop mutual self-help and solidarity.

PAT advocates also facilitate regular parent support groups, parent consultations, parent participation programmes and capacity building activities for parents. This is generally group work, where people have a chance to talk about issues and to develop mutual self-help and solidarity.

PAT support groups and work groups frequently invite advisors and service delivery professionals as participants so as to provide opportunities for parents to discuss their own issues with someone who is informed about policy and practitioner issues, who can offer impartial assistance and who is independent either of the local authority, government department, service provider organisation or the NHS Primary Care Trust.

PAT advocates also work with local authority departments and with the local NHS Primary Care Trust and with other service delivery organisations to ensure that people who access these services are happy with service quality, are happy with any proposed changes to the services they receive and in order to ensure that parents have an opportunity to influence all decisions affecting them or their families in accordance with the principles of the Every Disabled Child Matters disabled children’s charter.

PAT advocates also support self-advocacy groups to build their capacity and effectiveness as change agents, to act as a pressure group and to campaign around an agreed platform.

PAT is committed to the following principles and values for Citizen Advocacy pratitioners:-

• PAT will not introduce volunteers to replace paid staff.

• PAT volunteers to have a defined place in the structure of the organisation.

• PAT volunteers are treated equally as part of our team.

• PAT recognises the individual skills each person brings to the organisation.

• PAT works to ensure that volunteers feel supported and valued in their role through a comprehensive induction to advocacy, through peer supervision groups and with a named management committee member as a point of contact.

• PAT encourages volunteers to develop and build on existing skills and knowledge through sharing good practice within PAT advocacy scheme and through regular training opportunities.

What is the PAT Citizen Advocacy recruitment policy?

PAT seeks to recruit volunteers from a diverse range of backgrounds reflecting the makeup of the local community (see diversity policy).

Before recruiting PAT will consider and take advice on how to attract people from a diverse range of backgrounds to the organisation.

Each potential volunteer will be invited for an introductory meeting and will be asked for information about themselves which we will record on a PAT volunteer application form.

Each person who volunteers for PAT will be asked for references to establish their suitability, experience, integrity and good character.

A CRB check will be undertaken for each person who volunteers for PAT and works with vulnerable adults or who has contact with young people. This check will need to be carried out before an advocate begins work. A CRB check is a police check to see if you have a committed an offence that would restrict or prevent you from working with vulnerable adults or young people. PAT also is obliged to register all volunteers with the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

What are the processes for induction and training of Citizen Advocacy practitioners?

PAT has established the following minimum standards and a process for each volunteer:-

Each volunteer will receive information about health and safety and equal opportunities.

Each volunteer will receive basic training about advocacy before they enter into advocacy partnerships.

A named member of the PAT management committee will be assigned as a supervisor to discuss with the volunteer advocate about any other training needs in supervision.

Each volunteer will act as a volunteer advocate on a trial basis of three months to ensure both PAT and the individual volunteer concerned are happy with progress in the advocacy role.

All PAT volunteers will be paired with a partner who the PAT supervisor thinks is a good match. The volunteer and partner will meet regularly over a one month period to determine whether the partnership is working well.

Volunteers will have a volunteer agreement and role outline which sets out expectations for the individual and support offered by the organisation. This is not a contract. Nothing in the PAT volunteer agreement will have the effect of creating an employer and employee relationship or a contract. PAT volunteer roles are unpaid and are intended to facilitate mutual self-help, support and solidarity within the context of the PAT constitution and the PAT charitable objects.

The named management committee member assigned to each volunteer will be a main point of contact at PAT.

Volunteers will have supervision on a one to one basis every four to eight weeks.

Volunteers will be invited to team meetings to get together with the other volunteer advocates for peer supervision and the sharing of best practice.

The named management committee member will undertake to be available and can be contacted Monday to Friday within working hours (generally 9-5) for telephone support.

Volunteers are also welcome to set up personal case-work meetings to discuss any issues, but it is advisable to phone first.

Volunteers will be offered a variety of training opportunities and any specific training or development necessary to meet the individual needs of the person they are advocating for.

What are the safeguards ensuring health and safety applicable for PAT Citizen Advocacy Practitioners?

Each volunteer will be provided with health and safety information.

Each volunteer will undertake basic health and safety training.

Volunteers will be aware of general health and safety and personal safety.

Volunteers will know how to report an accident or incident that they or their partners have.

Volunteers will be trained to carry out personal risk assessment.

What steps will PAT take to ensure respect for diversity and equality of opportunity?

Volunteers will be required to undertake training designed to foster an understanding of and a commitment to equal opportunities and diversity, (see diversity policy).

How does PAT approach dealing with problems, complaints or difficulties?

PAT will try to solve any problems at the earliest possible stage.

Partners are able to complain about paid staff, volunteers or the service and there is a defined process and mechanism available to ensure prompt resolution.

Service users are able to complain about paid staff, volunteers or the service and there is a defined process and mechanism available to ensure prompt resolution.

PAT operates a defined problem solving and grievance procedure, (see problem-solving and grievance flowcharts for procedure).

What is the confidentiality policy applicable to PAT Citizen Advocacy practitioners?

At the start of a partnership between a PAT Citizen Advocate and a service user partner the PAT confidentiality agreement will be introduced and discussed. The PAT confidentiality policy explains the agreement and both parties must agree to be bound by this before work commences.

The advocacy partner must understand that the PAT volunteer advocate is required to abide by the rules of confidentiality before each person is asked to sign the PAT Citizen Advocacy agreement.

Volunteer Citizen Advocacy pratitioners are bound by a rigorous and detailed written confidentiality policy. The policy is mandatory and not optional. This policy will be adhered to and complied with at all times, (see confidentiality policy.

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