Relationships – what we can be mindful of!
Peter and Bob
Soon after becoming a Citizen Advocate, I remember having a long conversation with an acquaintance about what my role would be. They understood that from time to time people with disability might need advocacy, but really could not understand why it needed to be ongoing. They even worried that my long-term involvement could be seen as somewhat patronising to some observers.
The essence of Citizen Advocacy is that it is about prevention. It’s about how ordinary people in a community can take action to prevent bad things happening to people who are isolated and alone and especially where isolation itself heightens that vulnerability. We know that it is the relationships we have with other people that makes our lives safe, secure and satisfying. In other words, a really good way to protect people and help them have the good life we all value, is for them to have relationships with others. A good start is to have at least one.
When that one relationship is with a Citizen Advocate, we can expect that they will be mindful of some important things. We can expect that the Citizen Advocate will keep a watchful eye out to prevent exploitation and abuse. We can expect that the Citizen Advocate will notice when their protégé is isolated and alone and will take personal action to remedy that.
When something needs to be said, we can expect that the Citizen Advocate will be the one who speaks out, and we can expect that the Citizen Advocate will know this … preventing bad things happening isn’t done by reacting after the event.
It’s done by being around, being involved in a person’s life, knowing what’s happening, and being there for the long-term.
So no, there’s nothing patronising about a Citizen Advocate … preventing a vulnerable person from experiencing harm.
For a community that values people with disability, it’s just common sense