Help needed as new law beckons

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A north east Fife citizen advocacy group is seeking volunteers to help vulnerable people through changes in the way their care is delivered.

The Scottish Government’s new Self Directed Support legislation, which has already been piloted in some areas of Fife, comes into force shortly.

It means councils will have to offer people choices on how they receive their support, with the aim of delivering a package that best suits their needs.

But the assessment process that goes with the new strategy can prove bewildering for clients, their families and carers - so the Cupar-based group IncludeME is working with two dedicated Self Directed Support workers to recruit short-term advocates who can help.

“Short-term advocates don’t need any formal qualifications, but they must be comfortable filling in forms and attending meetings,” explained IncludeME development worker Ali Millican.

“They’ll need two references and will undergo a disclosure check under the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme.

“They’ll then undergo the same two evening training sessions as long-term citizen advocates, plus another session specifically dealing with SDS.

“The aim is to offer support, loyalty and an independent voice to vulnerable people in north east Fife to ensure they are getting a package that’s best tailored to their needs.

“Short-term advocates will work with one person at a time and will have to get to know their needs quite quickly.”

Under the new Act, councils must offer vulnerable people four options as to how their care is delivered.

The person can have payments sent directly to them and they choose how to spend it; they can direct the available support to where they want it; they can let the local authority arrange their support or they can choose to combine all the options.

The idea is to empower people and allow them to make decisions about their care arrangements, so that instead of having to adapt to a carer’s timetable they can use the resources to suit their own lifestyles.

Meanwhile, IncludeME is stepping up its recruitment campaign for long-term advocates following a re-organisation of advocacy services by Fife Council.

Where the organisation previously only supported people with learning disabilities, its remit has been broadened to include anyone over 16 who needs help and support to safeguard their needs and interests, whether they have physical or learning disabilities, mental health issues or are vulnerable for other reasons.

That means there are currently around 20 people in the Cupar and St Andrews areas in need of a citizen advocate.

“The time commitment isn’t huge, but the advocate is there to help their partner overcome the barriers they may face so is expected to 
keep in regular contact,” says Ali.

“Many of our partnerships have gone on to become solid and lasting friendships.”

Anyone interested in becoming either a short-term or long-term advocate should contact Ali on 01334 656242 or visit