What an advocate can do for you
An advocate is a person who has knowledge about and experience working in certain areas (for example, child protection, disability benefits, or housing), who can help people by:
- providing information about options,
- developing plans for what the client needs to do, and
- helping the client gather and present information when necessary.
Advocates usually work out of community agencies. For example, they might work in advocacy centres, community centres, churches, or women's centres. Look for one who is knowledgeable about, and trained in, the area in which you need help.
An advocate may help you understand information on the following:
- Your rights and options
- Court process and rules
- Procedures and investigations
Advocates can help in the following ways:
- Help you find a lawyer and help you to communicate effectively with your lawyer
- Attend meetings with your social worker or employment assistance worker and help you communicate with the worker if necessary
- Help you stand up for your rights and challenge the worker if necessary
- Negotiate for you with government agencies and help you appeal decisions if possible
- Help you draft an agreement with government agencies if necessary
- Go to court with you
To find an advocate in BC, see the list of advocates on the PovNet website.
You can also look for an advocate in your community resource directory or the yellow pages under "Community Services," "Counsellors," "Social Service Organizations," or "Health and Welfare Organizations." Or ask for a referral at one of these organizations in your area:
- Women's centre, advocacy centre, or anti-poverty group
- Aboriginal friendship centre, multicultural agency, or social justice group
- Family service agency or daycare centre
- Victim services, sexual assault centre, or transition house
- Mental health services or community health organization
You may also get useful advice from other people who have used advocacy services.
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