Over 110 people attended Advonet’s 2nd Strengthening the City Through Advocacy event at the Leeds Civic Hall on Thursday 4th October. We looked at how we can work together with the communities of Leeds to share knowledge and skills to increase the reach of advocacy.
We launched the Leeds Advocacy Network to link together local organisations that may provide advocacy as part of what they do, and gathered feedback on producing the first city-wide, annual Advocacy Plan for Leeds.
On the day, we welcomed partner organisations who co-ran six separate discussion groups on topics as varied as developing self-advocacy tools for specific groups, self-advocacy training and peer support groups, working together to raise issues and influence change, increasing advocacy access for people in marginalised groups and examples of the benefits of bespoke advocacy provision.
People from diverse communities in Leeds contributed to the groups to gather ideas. We will compile the notes from the event into a single document to publish on our website and use discussions and ideas on the day to guide initial planning of the 2019-2023 Advocacy Plan for Leeds.
There were many ideas to follow up and develop, some of which included:

  • A plan to work together to campaign and influence on a national issue using social media and accessible information
  • Joint training /skill sharing between advocacy and the Citizens Advice Bureau to help understand roles and work together more effectively and share resources to reach specific groups
  • Personalisation of self-advocacy tools and a central point to share resources
  • Steps to combine resources/training to advocate and empower identified marginalised groups and build bridges between services/organisations
  • How to support communities to celebrate strengths to generate their own advocacy and set their own agendas
  • Identified actions to develop to overcome barriers to self advocacy for specific groups
  • Setting up more advocacy hub points in the communities people use and ideas for how to use technology/adapted training for people to be better able to self/peer advocate
  • How to create additional opportunities for skill sharing and shared training through the network

Guest speakers

Discussion group on self-advocacy tools at advocacy planning event
Fiona Martin from Leeds City Council Adults & Health talked about a strengths-based approach to social work and its connections to advocacy. She used the Being Me project as an example.
Cllr Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults spoke later on about joining the dots of advocacy and how it can prevent problems that individuals and communities experience further down the line.
Finally, Andy Jones, a project worker at SPACE, discussed how advocacy training helped them to build capacity for the support that they could offer their members.


Here are just a few of the feedback comments we received from visitors:
“Brilliant event. Felt listened to and valued. And actually feel with your team in charge, things may change.”
“Really good event. Useful for finding out about advocacy, networking and sharing knowledge.”
“It was a really good meeting. We would like to do this again. Lots of great discussions and ideas. Thank you.”
We would like to thank everyone who participated in Strengthening the City Through Advocacy 2018. Thanks to the Alzheimer’s Society, Leeds Citizens Advice, Chapeltown Citizens Advice, CHANGE, Leeds GATE, Age UK Leeds, Exemplar Health Care and the Leeds City Council Migrant Access service for helping to run our discussions.
Thanks to all of our guest speakers for enlightening us on how advocacy can make a positive difference. Thanks to all the organisations who also held stalls at the event, including Yorkshire MESMAC, SignHealth and Touchstone. Finally, we give huge thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the discussions and elsewhere at the event.

Leeds Advocacy Network

By joining the Leeds Advocacy Network you can link with other providers and access training/joint working opportunities to increase the reach of advocacy and help the people of Leeds have a greater voice.
If you would like more information about the day or would like to be part of the Leeds Advocacy Network, please contact us in the following ways: