Journal Article

Advocacy in Practice: The Troubled Position of Advocates in Adult Services

Liz Forbat and Dorothy Atkinson

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 35, issue 3, pages 321-335
Published in print April 2005 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Advocacy in Practice: The Troubled Position of Advocates in Adult Services

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This paper is a review, and critical appraisal, of the theory and practice of advocacy. Advocacy is not social work, but its principles and values resonate closely to those espoused by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW, 2002). In this paper, we interrogate the assumption that advocacy is necessarily always a positive and enabling experience. Indeed, we suggest that the use of advocacy can be contested from the point of the view of the service user (the advocacy partner1), the advocate and from professionals working with advocates (or positioning themselves as advocates).

Drawing on recent research that evaluated advocacy services in Nottinghamshire, we discuss some of the key tensions. In particular, we consider the reality of the advocate’s role, including where it relates to and differs from social work, and the issue of whether advocacy can be part of what a social worker does anyway. We also review, briefly, the dilemmas arising from professionals acting as advocates, especially in relation to being independent of services.

Keywords: Advocacy; dilemmas; professional identity; supporting advocates

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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