Why Advocacy Matters to Me - Francine Evans
With an ever-growing number of people accessing advocacy services, we’re asking members of the Cloverleaf team to share their views, thoughts, and experiences on advocacy and why #AdvocacyMatters
How did you become involved in advocacy? Please tell us a little about your role at Cloverleaf...
I became involved over 16 years ago as an advocate in Wakefield. Since then I have worked as an advocate and service manager in many areas for Cloverleaf. I loved it from the very first day and knew from my interview I really wanted to work for the organisation. I love the ethos and values and often joke that I am like a stick of Blackpool rock; cut me in half and you will find Cloverleaf written through me.
Can you share three reasons why advocacy matters most to you?
Advocacy matters to me because I want all people to be able to be aware of their rights and be able to speak up for them. I want people’s voices to be heard and listened to. I love seeing people flourish.
What do you think are the most important attributes required to become a good advocate?
A good advocate needs to be understanding, empathetic and patient, plus be able to listen. They also need to have a thick skin too as although I love my job it can be hard at times. My top tip to any new advocate is to ask questions. Always remember it might be you that needs advocacy one day so think about how would you like to be treated.
What one thing would you most like people to know about advocacy?
That advocacy is amazing to be part of and a privilege to be there for people. There are so many different types of advocacy too to get involved in. I love moving from one type of advocacy to another. Such a variety.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that the sector is currently facing?
Money and time. There is definitely less money around and as a not-for-profit organisation we are always trying to be creative with what we do and getting value for money so we can do more. Our volunteers bring so much to our team in this respect as we can do events, and develop self-advocacy groups too.
If you could share one tip on how people can learn to self-advocate what would it be?
My top tip would be to make a list of points you want to cover, think about what you might accept as an alternative if needed, and practice saying it out loud. Hearing your voice stating your wishes is very powerful and confidence-building which is often needed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; it is your life.
Complete the sentence – in 10 years’ time I would like the advocacy sector to...
be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. For everyone to know about it, have access to it. Ultimately to be out of business so that everyone is finally heard, respected, and ‘worked with and not done to’. A very wise person told me this at the start of my advocacy career and it has remained with me. If nobody needed advocacy how wonderful would that be!