Over 80 people came to our consortium launch event on Wednesday 18th July to learn about our plans for the future and what advocacy can do for the people of Leeds. At the event, we held discussions about four topics and listened to fascinating talks from our partners in the new consortium.
We welcomed visitors from different third sector organisations and community groups across the city. Among the groups represented were Leeds GATE, Leeds Citizens Advice Bureau, the NHS and Community Links.
Together with members of our staff team and interested members of the public, they heard about what each partner in the consortium did and plan to do going forward.

Talks from partners

On the day, we had an introduction from Philip Bramson, Advonet’s Chief Executive, on the exciting times ahead for the new consortium. We then had Jessica Parker from Touchstone talk about developing co-production, working with the people we support to provide better advocacy services.
Next, Hilary Brockway from Age UK Leeds discussed advocacy support for older people and what they had done already. She mentioned the Arch Café and support given to their clients around such things as support groups and accessing mental health services.
Mark Healy, our lead advocate on secondment from SignHealth, did a talk about advocacy for deaf people. He then introduced a drama performance from Adam, which was done entirely in British Sign Language (BSL).
Afterwards, we showed the audience examples of innovative advocacy from our bilingual advocacy surgeries, and our Asking You! and Leeds Autism AIM projects. These helped to give our guests an idea of how doing something different can deliver.

Discussion groups

We held four discussion groups on the day, focused on four topics. They were:

  • Peer involvement: Developing a network of peer advocacy groups
  • What is advocacy?: Helping professionals and people who need it have a better understanding of advocacy
  • Training and consultation: Finding out what practical help Advonet could offer community partners
  • Addressing gaps and partnership working: Tackling unmet needs in a collaborative way

Here is a selection of things that were said at the groups from visitors:
“Peer advocacy is needed if isolated, small social circle, limiting amount of advice to be sought” – Peer involvement
“People using their own experiences to help others” – Peer involvement
“Using lived experience” – What is advocacy?
“Shaped voices and goals to guide solutions” – What is advocacy?
“Development of group advocacy” – Training and consultation
“Difference between statutory and non-statutory advocacy” – Training and consultation
“PIP – shared training support at assessment” – Addressing gaps and partnership working
“Not saying the same story twice” – Addressing gaps and partnership working
The feedback given from those groups will help to shape discussion at our next big event, Strengthening the City Through Advocacy II, on Thursday 4th October.

Thank you

We would like to thank everyone who came to the event, took time out to be there and contributed to the group discussions.
We also say thanks to our guest speakers from the partners in the consortium – Hilary from Age UK, Jess from Touchstone, and Adam from SignHealth for his drama performance. Their contributions helped to make the event both informative and insightful.