REPORT ASSIGNMENT ON ADVOCACY
TYPE OF ASSESSMENT: REPORT / NOT A CASE STUDY
DESCRIPTION OF ASSESSMENT
A 2000 WORK REFLECTIVE REPORT, WHICH EVALUATES A ROLE OR RESOURCE WHICH PROMOTES SERVICE USER RIGHTS, AND DEMONSTRATES CRITICAL UNDERSTANDING OF THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES AND KEY CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.
THE REFLECTIVE REPORT WILL FOCUS ON A SERVICE USER GROUP RELATED TO THE STUDENT’S PLACEMENT AND WILL INCLUDE:
AN INITIAL DISCUSSION OF THE CONCEPTS OF RIGHTS, ADVOCACY AND REPRESENTATION AS THEY RELATE TO THE CHOSEN SERVICE USER GROUP
IDENTIFYING AN ADVOCACY ROLE/RESOURCE APPLICABLE TO THIN GROUP AND CRITICALLY EVALUATING ITS CONTRIBUTION TO PROMOTING EFFECTIVE SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE.
DRAWING ON THE STUDENT’S PLACEMENT AND REFLECTION ON THIS RESOURCE, THE STUDENT SHOULD CRITICAL DISCUSS THE ISSUES, CHALLENGES AND CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS WHICH ARISE IN APPLYING ADVOCACY AND REPRESENTATION WITH THIS SERVICE USER GROUP.
ADVOCACY, RIGHTS AND REPRESENTATION
In this report I will discuss the concept of right, advocacy and representation as they relate to asylum-seekers or refugee and migrant. I will identify an advocacy role that support refugee and migrant in the community, demonstrating their rights and critically evaluating its contribution to promoting effective social work practice. I will draw on placement example to discuss issues, challenges and conflicts of interest in applying advocacy and representation with asylum-seekers, refugee and migrant.
My placement is with a voluntary organisation that provides advocacy support for asylum-seekers or refugee and migrant within East London Borough. Refugees and asylum seekers face a lot of barriers in trying to integrate into the host society. Many face difficulties accessing training, education and employment opportunities. Lack of information, lack of language and communication skills, mental stress and trauma, legal constraints and stringent restrictions are some of the major problems that refugees and asylum seekers contend with today.
Advocacy is used as means to support and provide relevant advice on the strict immigration controls and tight legalistic framework that poses many issues for their lives in the community. Through the advocacy support the organisation provides mentoring services that enables refugees, asylum-seekers and migrant to empower themselves and overcome those barriers.
The concept of advocacy, rights and representation
The idea of the advocate as someone who ‘acts for’ another, in order to ensure their rights against opposition from others, is replete with binary assumptions. ( 2002).
The ultimate outcome of advocacy may be to ensure rights or entitlements of the person of group for whom we are acting, the process itself should be experienced as an empowering one by the people we are working for. As many asylum-seekers faced with the issue of citizenship, their rights in the society to access basic support are under a strict control. According to (1995) it stated that it is essential that, where rights are unclear or the opportunity to enforce them is limited, the question of citizenship is addressed to push back the limitations for those affected.
Advocacy involves representing the interests of others when they are unable to do so themselves. Advocacy ails to ensure that the voices and interests of service users are heard and responded to in ways that affect attitudes, policy, practice and service delivery.
Thus rights to a service mean that the client has a right to accept or decline a standard of service, and formal rights which are not enough must follow if those rights are to be capable of enforcement (1995). The concepts to rights to services, rights to an adequate income and decent housing, rights to humane treatment by welfare organisations and the right to participate in society on equal terms are at the heart of advocacy.
A key concept within advocacy is that of representation, which variably involves supporting clients to represent themselves, arguing client’s views and needs, interpreting or representing the views, needs, concerns and interests of clients to others and developing appropriate skills for undertaking these different tasks, such as listening and negotiating skills, empathy, assertiveness skills, being clear and focused, and so on (2005). In most cases in my placement the form of representation generally use is the Citizen advocacy – where the organisation recruits volunteers to develop relationship as a mentor with clients who are potentially isolated, gaining understanding to their individual problems and representing their needs. The organisation also encourage client to be confident in speaking up for themselves which came under the Self-advocacy representation. This type of representation leads to self-help, group and peer advocacy where they find ways to speak out in order to protect their rights and to advance their own interests ( 2005).
(2005) explained that for advocacy to be seen as a legitimate element of the social work role, it is essential that adequate training, supervision and support are provided. The advocate’s role is to argue positively on behalf of another, pleading the best case possible and presenting the facts in the most favourable light ( 2000). e major advantage of advocacy is that it brings a rights-based perspective into individual being blamed for the failures of the external world. The organisation represents the client through advocacy to secure client’s rights as they are deprived of rights which made them powerless and their interests could most safely be neglected by the powerful legal regulations ( 2000). For example the citizenship advocacy plays the major role of the organisation advocacy support, it is use to enable the clients to have right to minimum standards of welfare and security, education, medical treatment and employment. The process involves placing application for social support to National Asylum Support Services (NASS). The NASS is one of the resources my placement uses for necessary benefits to be claimed for each individual clients. At whatever points of the process an advocate is involved their sole purpose is to represent what the clients wants, and they do not deviate from that ( and 1998).
(1995) explained that the distinction between advocacy on what have been described as bounded problems and advocacy on those described as unbounded problems is important. This means that unbounded problems includes situations that appear not to have solutions, usually involve more people, are not discrete and cannot be disentangled from their context. The majority of the problems facing the asylum-seekers language barriers and lack of understanding of system mostly how the society accepted them. For instance
Challenges and Conflicts
One of the challenges in advocacy is that the advocate’s actions have to be driven by the client’s wishes and instructions if the client is to have any sense of ownership of the problem and its resolution. (1995) explained that there are two ways advocate can experience conflicts of interests, these are internal and external. Internal conflicts arise when the advocate feels a crisis of conscience in relation to a client or a situation creates moral dilemma for the advocate. External factors limit the advocate’s actions and so prevent the advocate from receiving independent advice.
Working with asylum-seekers also poses the question of the extent to which effective action may be limited by all-pervasive legalistic procedures in which constraint is exerted upon this group of service users in a way that is fundamentally different from the application of the law by social workers in the protection of their service users ( and 2004)
The problem of refugees, or what global responsibility should be taken in local affairs which have resulted from global changes, is of extreme concern. Issues of race, ethnic identity, how we accommodate any difference with more fluid structures, become paramount ( 2002).
In terms of the challenges I found out during placement that, in reality, advocacy remains a limited resource and the skills needed to represent service users are somehow limited ( 2001). There is the need to provide advocacy support for client. Service users have the right to have their voice heard and an independent person to provide relevant support, although lack of resources and funding may limit the setting up and development of independent
Advocacy has long been established as a core component of social work (, 2000, 2000, and 2001). Nevertheless the relationship between advocacy and local authority social work is complex. (2000) and (2001) assert that an advocate must be essentially impartial and independent, to speak and act for the user free from any conflict of interests. However, Moreover, the policy on limited resources increasingly places conflicting roles on social workers to advocate for users, in line with professional ethics, at the same time as being required to ration services ( 2000).
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