The advantages of advocacy
The success of advocacy as a method of problem solving or resolution is tied in part to the advocates' philosophy of searching for solutions rather than problems. As a health worker acting as an advocate, you may be able to find ways to resolve the community's health-related problems. In some situations you may have to act as a health advocate and provide ongoing representational advocacy for your community. Advocates should be particularly good at identifying the strengths of their own community, and should help them find ways of solving health-related problems.
There are several benefits of advocacy:
- Advocacy helps your community's voice to be heard
- It provides you with information, support, and services to help you make choices.
- Helps you to get people to understand your point of view
- Makes it easier for you to get information in a way that you can understand
- Helps you to see what other services are available
- Helps you choose what you want to do
- Helps with expressing your views effectively
- Represents your community's views faithfully and effectively
- Helps influential people understand the issues.
Look at the list of the benefits and features of advocacy carefully, and read quickly through the session again. Now look at the list below and choose what you think are attractive features of advocacy:
- Helps workers focus, target and choose what they want to do
- Helps workers represent their community's views truthfully, because the community is involved in the process
- Includes influential people in health education action
- Enables the community to work towards solving problems
- Overall advocacy enables the community's voice to be heard.
We cannot know what you currently find attractive about advocacy. It may have a lot to do with the health issues your community faces at the moment. For example, you and others may feel that it is important for the community to feel that its voice is heard more than it is. Or perhaps you think that influential people might be able to make more of a contribution to solving health problems. Whatever your answer, advocacy can act as an important tool for you as a Health Extension Practitioner (Figure 17.3). For example if you need to address specific causes of a health problem in your community, advocacy can help you build support for tackling those issues.
It is important to remember that advocacy is not about being a friend or counsellor, or about persuading other people to agree with your views. Nor is it about the advocate deciding what is in another person' best interests.
Advocacy is not an alternative complaints procedure, but may involve the advocate in supporting the person in making a complaint effectively. In addition, it is not campaigning, although it may highlight problems and gaps in particular services. Above all, advocacy is not providing social support, for example, managing someone's financial affairs or organising transport for them, nor is it a long-term service.