Independent Advocacy Services in East Sussex

October 19, 2023

What is independent advocacy?

An independent advocate can support and empower you to speak up for yourself, or to speak

To people sat having a discussion. The person on the left is talking whilst the person on the right is listening whilst taking notes on a clipboard.

up on someone’s behalf.

Advocacy provides a way of supporting you to express your views and experiences regarding health or care services, have these taken seriously by the provider or commissioner of services and achieve specific outcomes, such as holding an organisation to account, helping you get the care you are entitled to, or receiving an apology from a service provider.

How can independent advocacy help?

Independent advocacy is free to access and can support you by:

  • Listening to what you want to say
  • Supporting you to express what your view or concern is and what it is you want to happen
  • Providing access to information so you understand your options and choices
  • Offering you practical help such as writing letters or attending meetings
  • Explaining responses and correspondence so that you understand what is happening and the process you are going through
  • Acting on your behalf and ensuring that professionals are treating you fairly and in a dignified manner

There may be certain situations when accessing independent advocacy could be particularly helpful for you. These could include:

  • If you would like help to make a complaint about an NHS service
  • if you disagree with the outcome of your Adult Social Care assessment, how your care package has been calculated or a decision about your care
  • if you are involved in a ‘safeguarding’ enquiry


What advocacy services are available in East Sussex?

There are different types of free, independent health and care advocacy services available, depending on your situation and advocacy needs.

Different organisations provide specific advocacy support and the service you need will depend on what you require support with. More details on this are provided below.

Advocacy services are generally divided into two groups:

  1. Services funded or delivered by the NHS
  2. Services funded or delivered by the Local Authority (East Sussex County Council)

Some advocacy services have eligibility criteria or requirements you must meet to access the advocacy service, so do check before contacting them.


Independent Health Complaints Advocacy Service (IHCAS)

If you are unhappy with the service, you, or someone else has received from the NHS, you have the right to raise your concerns about it.

The Advocacy People have self-help guides and fact sheets on their website which can support you to make an NHS complaint: The Advocacy People self-help information

The Advocacy People also deliver the Independent Health Complaints Advocacy Service (IHCAS) in East Sussex.

If you would like to access free and confidential advocacy support to make a complaint about a service provided, or paid for, by the NHS, you can self-refer to The Advocacy People via:


Telephone: 0330 440 9000

Website: The Advocacy People

Please note that Independent Health Complaints Advocates are unable to help with taking legal action, NHS employee disciplinary procedures or complaints about private health services.


Local Authority funded Advocacy Services

East Sussex County Council pays an organisation called POhWER to provide a range of advocacy services. Details are explained below.

It can be challenging to identify which advocacy service can best help you. If you are struggling to find the type of advocacy you are eligible for, contact POhWER for information and support.

How can I get advocacy support provided by POhWER?

You can request free advocacy support from the following independent advocacy services, by contacting POhWER via:

Phone: 0300 456 2370

Website: POhWER

POhWER provide the following Advocacy Services in East Sussex:

Independent Care Act Advocacy

A Care Act advocate can support you with your social care assessment, support planning and review, and concerns with safeguarding if you have substantial difficulty communicating.

This could be if you:

  1. find it hard to understand and retain important information
  2. have trouble using the right information to communicate your views, wishes and feelings, or to make decisions
  3. do not have an ‘appropriate person’ who can speak up for you.
    An appropriate person is someone you choose, who isn’t already providing care and support to you, and isn’t involved in any allegations of abuse or neglect towards you.


 Independent Community Advocacy

Independent advocates may be able to help you with a broad range of issues that are related to adult social care. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • Challenging the decisions of Adult Social Care services, including personal budgets, client contributions and placement decisions.
  • Supporting a request or attending assessment and review processes for care and financial assessments for care.
  • To make a complaint about Adult Social Care.
  • For support around direct payment issues.
  • If you need support through a safeguarding or best interest process.
  • If you need to raise a safeguarding concern.
  • Support around the financial appeal process.
  • If you require advocacy support with Occupational Therapy issues.
  • Complaints to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

This service is available to residents of East Sussex who are funded by East Sussex County Council and are:

  • Aged 65 or over
  • Between 18 and 65 with physical disabilities
  • Between 18 and 65 with sensory impairments
  • Over 18 with a learning disability
  • Over the age of 18 with mental health issues
  • A Carer of someone eligible under the above categories


Independent mental health advocacy (IMHA)

If you are a patient who is subject to certain sections of the Mental Health Act 1983, in hospital or the community you may be entitled to help from an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA). This service is free, independent and confidential.

This service is available to you if you are:

  • Detained under the Mental Health Act (normally in hospital)
  • Subject to Guardianship
  • Subject to a Community Treatment Order (CTO)
  • A conditionally discharged restricted patient

IMHAs are an additional safeguard for you when you are subject to certain sections of the Mental Health Act. IMHAs support you to understand your rights, access information and participate as much as possible in decisions about your care and treatment.


Independent mental capacity advocacy (IMCA)

The aim of the Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) service is to provide independent safeguards for people who lack capacity and – other than in adult protection cases – have no-one else (other than paid staff) to support or represent them or be consulted.

If you find it hard to make decisions and you do not have any friends or family who can speak for you, it is your legal right to have an independent advocate who knows about the Mental Capacity Act. For example, they can help you if you face difficult choices about moving away from your home or are in need of serious medical treatment.

An independent mental capacity advocate can also help if there is a chance you could face harm or abuse because of your difficulty in making decisions. This is known as ‘safeguarding.’


Children and young people’s advocacy

If you are aged between 7 and 19 years old and have a disability, special educational need or are looked after, the Children and Young People’s Advocacy Service can help make sure that you are getting the right support to:

  • to be healthy
  • to stay safe
  • to enjoy and achieve
  • to make a positive contribution
  • to achieve economic wellbeing

They can also help you to have your views and wishes heard at:

  • reviews and meetings
  • school or college
  • when there are changes in your life
  • if you don’t feel safe

They can do this by working with just you or supporting you in a group to learn about your rights and speaking up about your views and your goals.

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