#Advocacy: How do you tell people about the work you can’t publicise?

A simple business rule is that you must bang your own drum so that people know you exist and know about the work you are doing. But, with advocacy you are entrusted with someone else’s story and only they have the right to determine how and when it is told.

So, what happens when the advocacy work we do involves representing someone who wants their information kept confidential? Simple: you keep it confidential.

We can’t (and don’t) talk about the advocacy cases we work on without explicit consent from the person or people that we are representing. Advocacy will alert you to social narratives or discrepancies in social narratives that you had previously been unaware of. These social narratives or discrepancies are social vulnerabilities. They are often shocking and sometimes distressing.

What is “social vulnerability”?

A social vulnerability is the inability of people, organisations, and societies to withstand adverse impacts from multiple stressors to which they are exposed. By it’s very nature, advocacy brings attention to social vulnerabilities. Advocacy shines a light on cracks in the system: it is not there to work against the system, it’s there to better it. Identifying and correcting social vulnerabilities makes society stronger, by ignoring social vulnerabilities society is weakened.

Now, no two advocacy cases are the same because no two people’s stories are the same. But the social vulnerabilities that cause the individuals to be denied a voice are often similar. So we discuss the social vulnerabilities. Which is why you will find articles about the limited service narrative and the importance of proper representation in education on our blog. It’s why our talk at the Autism Symposium in Cambridge last year was about the saviour complex, paternalising disability and social vulnerability (If you would like to watch/listen to it, click here).

We are not the voices of the people we speak for, while they have been denied a voice it does not mean that they do not have one. As advocates our job is to be loudspeakers and defenders of the rights and wishes of the people we are representing.

By changing the way that we speak about people who have been denied a voice, we can help to change the way that they are perceived. By changing the way that we talk about (and perceive) problems in society, we can change society. And, in doing that, you can change the world.

If you would like us to act as an advocate for you, please get in touch here and we will let you know how we can help 🙂

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