Day 85: Advocacy actions #107days

Day 85 is another shared day, this one themed around advocacy. It was adopted by Martin of True Voice and Teresa of SWAN Advocacy. SWAN held a conference on Tuesday and True Voice are holding an event this afternoon, both seeking to show the important role of advocacy in keeping people at the heart of decision making and support.

When asked why they were supporting #107days and #JusticeforLB Teresa said this:

Swan Advocacy was pleased to be able to dedicate its conference to LB and adopt Day 85 as part of the #107days campaign as we truly believe that Connor’s tragic story, and stories like his, must be told and kept alive though the power of social media if change is ever going to happen. As an independent advocacy organisation we see all to often how cultures of indifference can develop within health and care settings and we are committed to the ongoing challenge of ensuring that the voice of the individual and their family is not ignored.

SWAN Advocacy are using their day to share details of the conference, dedicated to LB, held on Tuesday of this week:

Swan Advocacy’s conference ‘Statutory Safeguards: Protection or Control. The role of independent advocacy in finding the balance’ was hailed a resounding success by delegates.

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The conference, masterfully chaired by Mervyn Eastman of Change AGEnts Network UK was attended by over 120 people from a range of professions and backgrounds who were engaged in a day of debate and discussion and able to listen and learn from some fantastic speakers. Jess Flannagan and Jo Burton fro Clarke Willmott gave an expert solicitors’ perspective on the conference theme followed by Graham Enderby (Bournewood carer) who told his incredible story of how his and his wife’s persistence in challenging the treatment of Harry lead to fundamental changes in the law. Terry Gorczynska talked about the role of Independent Mental Capacity Advocates in relation to safeguarding followed by Barrister and trainer Aasya Mughal who gave a fascinating presentation on ‘the absent protection’ for mental health patients.

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Finally Dr Noelle Blackman from Respond ended the conference with an incredibly moving presentation on the dramatic consequences that ‘indifference’ can have on the lives of people with a learning disability – particularly in assessment and treatment units. Noelle began the presentation with a beautiful montage of pictures showing Connor Sparrowhawk at his happiest – surrounded by his loving family having fun. Noelle went on to highlight the tragic cases such as Connor and Nico which demonstrate the tragic impact of indifference.

So, moving forward to today’s gathering, here is why Martin is supporting #107days and #JusticeforLB:

I feel honoured that True Voice has been allowed to do something in support of the #107days campaign. Like most people I came to know about LB through Sara’s blog. When I heard of his avoidable death, and the way that his family were treated I wanted to do something, no matter how small. The problem at first was trying to find something that might actually be productive. I wrote a couple of personal blogs here and here, but I felt that wasn’t moving things on.

This is what Martin and colleagues are doing this afternoon:

I decided that True Voice should hold an event to get people asking how we keep people at the heart of their care, and how we remind people what their role is in that. That means making use of many approaches to supported voices, including independent advocates, natural advocates (such as family members) and health/care professionals.

The idea has now developed to look particularly at issues of health parity, the unremarkable demand that living in a care setting or having a diagnosis of mental health problems or learning disability should not prevent people from getting equal access to healthcare.

Jon Wheeler of the advocacy provider Pohwer is going to look at the barriers to equal access to health that have been identified in advocacy casework, and try to show ways past these. Andrew Carpenter of National Brokerage Network will be looking at how the BMA publication “Recognising the importance of physical health in mental health and intellectual disability” can be used as a tool to remind professionals of their role. And I will be asking what role advocacy organisations have when they encounter problems that reach the systemic level.

I’ll write up some of the learning from the day on the True Voice blog, but it’s not intended to just be a talking shop.  Given that it’s part of 107 days of action, everyone attending will be asked to make a pledge to take some positive action and to set a date when they will do this.  We all know things need to change, so we need to take a role in making change happen.

Full details of the event are available here.

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