People inspire to be in control of their own lives. However, there are times, whether through disability, financial circumstances or public attitudes, they may find themselves in a position where their ability to exercise choice or represent their own interests is limited. In these circumstances, independent advocates can help assure that an individual’s rights are upheld and that views, wishes and needs are heard, respected and acted upon.
What Is Advocacy?
Merriam Webster Dictionary, The act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.
Advocacy is taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain services they need.
Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to:
- Have their voice heard on issues that are important to them.
- Defend and safe guard their rights
- Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about issues that affect their way of life.
Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to:
- Express their views and concerns.
- Access information and services.
- Defend and promote their rights and responsibilities.
- Explore choices and options.
Advocates use facts and research data to influence public policy, laws and budgets.
An advocate is someone who provides advocacy support when need.
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY:
Key components for a successful advocacy campaign for seniors:
Know the facts: To gain and maintain credibility, it is critical that you have all of the facts on both sides of any issue. Having this information at your fingertips will help you in conversations with government officials, the media, other advocates, and the general public.
Use the facts: Any position you take should be grounded in the facts. It is helpful to summarize the facts in a hand-out.
Have clear and concise message: Government officials, the press, media and the general public do not have time for long-winded conversation or documents get to your point quickly and concisely. Watch out for jargon and acronyms used in different fields. Everyone must understand the issues you are raising.
Nature relationships and work collaboratively: Advocacy is a joint venture find your allies and work with them. Success is greater when there are a large number of organizations and people on your side. Be sure you and your allies have consistent data and the same messages.
Engage the public: Use all forms of media, petitions, letters, e-mails and other grassroots strategies to engage as many seniors as possible. Remember numbers speak loudly to public officials.
Make your voice is heard! Advocacy is not for the shy. Spread the word through meetings with government officials, press conferences, letters, petitions, rallies, and phone calls. Talk about what you are advocating wherever you go, you never know who can become a useful ally.
Say thank you: Remember everyone is busy and their time is valuable. Keep your meetings short and always say thank you. When your advocacy is a success, always thank everyone who helped you achieve your victory!