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What is Advocacy?

Advocacy aims to challenge exclusion and promote inclusion

An overview of advocacy in Rehab Group

We encourage advocacy at all levels in Rehab Group: from one-to-one conversations to taking action at local level to national, headline-grabbing campaigns. Rehab Group’s Five Year Strategic Plan has a key aim to develop a robust and independent advocacy structure within the organisation. We support the people who use our services and the wider disability community to raise issues that matter to them.

Rehab Group Advocacy Team provides support and guidance for staff and families engaged in advocating on behalf of the people who use Rehab Group services. 

This advocacy can take a number of forms: self-advocacy, group or peer advocacy and representative advocacy.

Local Advocacy Committee

In local centres, Local Advocacy Committees are elected by the people who use these services. Representatives from these then go forward to stand for election onto a Regional Advocacy Committee in either the South, East or Northwest.

A Local Advocacy Committee or LAC is a group of people who work together to ensure that the voices of all National Learning Network students and people who use RehabCare services are heard. They should be involved important decisions that are made in their centres, at all levels of the organisation, and outside of the organisation.

Local Advocacy Committees help to ensure that people are represented locally and that any ideas or improvements can be communicated to staff and  managers.

Committee members should:

  • Be willing to stand up for people’s rights
  • Work with managers and staff to ensure that the centre works well together
  • Feedback regularly to the people that they represent
  • Be a good listeners so they can feedback any issues they feel are having an effect on those in their centre
  • Liaise with the Regional and National Advocacy Committees
  • Take part in local events within the service and the local community
  • Support the centre to arrange or co-ordinate events, book guest speakers or help to co-ordinate other occasions

Examples of items raised and worked on at Local Advocacy Committees include:

Improving parking for people attending services

Discussing and arranging ballots for outings and festive celebrations

Requesting quiet spaces/areas within centres

Arranging for external visitors to come to centres from areas such as mental health as part of awareness raising

Arranging pamper days and sports days

Arranging events to fundraise for organisations in the local community

Regional Advocacy Committee

A Regional Advocacy Committee is a group of people who use RehabCare’s services or who are students in National Learning Network, that have been elected to represent students and the people that use RehabCare services at a regional level.

They come together to discuss regional issues, both within the services and outside the organisation. They work with the Regional Advocacy Officer and Managers for the region, to feedback concerns, needs or queries which are highlighted to the committee from those in local services. Representatives from the National Regional Advocacy Committees address the Group’s Board of Directors on an ongoing basis and communicate matters of importance to them.

There are three regions represented in Rehab Group. 

•         The East: Dublin, Louth, Meath, Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny, Carlow, Kildare, Wicklow, Waterford & Wexford

•         The Northwest: Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Galway, Roscommon, Cavan, Monaghan, Longford, Westmeath

•         The South: Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Tipperary

Regional Advocacy Committees are initially elected by the people attending the annual National Advocacy Conference every two years. As people leave, they are replaced. A Regional Advocacy Committee is made up of 12 people, six from RehabCare and six from National Learning Network. Ideally, there will be two reserves that can be called on as people leave the committee.

National Advocacy Conference

The annual National Advocacy Conference takes place every year in Dublin and is attended by up to 200 delegates. Staff, people who use Rehab Care services and National Learning Network students travel to the conference from across Ireland. High-profile keynote speakers have included Senators Lynn Ruane and Joan Freeman; Leigh Gath, the Confidential Recipient for Vulnerable People (HSE); and Mei Lin Yap disability advocate and Trinity College Dublin graduate. During the proceedings new Regional Advocacy Committee members are elected. The Regional Advocacy Committees also report on their work and there is an Open Forum where delegates can discuss topics of importance to them.

View of crowd at National Advocacy Conference, Dublin, 2019
Rehab Group National Advocacy Conference, Dublin, 2019