Posted 11.02.2021 

In the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT), Disability Action provides an Advocacy Service. Our Independent Advocate in the area is Maura McNeill. She supports people with physical, sensory disabilities, brain injury and/or Autistic Spectrum Disorder between the ages of 18-64 years old.

Here, Maura explains more about the service.

What is advocacy service?

Basically advocacy helps individuals explore the options available to them. It helps individuals make more confident, informed decisions. It can’t and won’t tell individuals what to do and promotes self-decision making. Advocacy will support individuals once they make their decision to have their choices listened to.

When and why might someone need an advocate?

"There are many situations people why and when people need the advocacy service,” explains Maura.

If someone doesn’t feel comfortable or confident to tackle a situation themselves; if situations feel out of their control and they need support; if they need help understanding the services and solutions available them and how to go about getting these services; if they feel lost and frustrated or if they don’t feel listened to, or they feel that others speak on their behalf without their permission agreement.

What types of support can the service offer?

"The type of support offered will differ depending on the situation but will always be directed by the individual’s needs, interests, and views," says Maura.

I can help individuals to make your own decisions, to communicate their decisions to other people and organisations, and to help them feel more in control. I can discuss the issues an individual is experiencing, explore the options available to them, help the individual feel more confident in making decisions, agree on a plan of action with the individual and keep everything under review or, with the individual consent, I can attend meetings, write a letter or speak on the individuals behalf.

The advocacy service is confidential, provided free of charge, and independent, which means the Maura can work in partnership with people, with no conflict of interest.

Maura says:

My moto when supporting people in meetings is two pairs of ears are better than one!

If you could benefit from our Advocacy Service in the WHSCT area contact our Independent Advocate Maura McNeill on Mobile: 07813 723512 or email her [email protected]

Read more about our Advocacy Service provided throughout N.Ireland