The government published their Social Care White Paper yesterday (1st December 2021) and identified the main problem facing elders & disabled people is in accessing advocacy, information & advice about what services are available at a local level. To meet this need funding of £5,000,000 will be provided covering the first 3 years, to provide advocacy, advice & information which will be delivered by locally based organisations.
Two years ago exactly (end of November 2019) Brent Advocacy Concerns had to give up their office and at the time we were providing advocacy, information & advice to disabled people and elders in every Ward in Brent all for free.
We leased our office at The Willesden Centre for Health & Care from NHS Property Services but we could not afford the rent. We asked both Brent Council & Brent CCG to help us out financially but we were were not offered any help and the CCG even said there was no demand for advocacy and instead of funding us, they felt the money saved could be used in providing services that were in demand.
In over 30 years at our Willesden office we built up a team of advocates who were all disabled people and therefore were able to identify with other disabled people & elders looking for help. e.g. I had both a BA degree and diploma in Health & Welfare, along with 28 years of providing advocacy support and most of my experience centred around Housing & Social Care, together with various Health issues.
After leaving our office we continued to provide services with disabled people contacting us by email, or over the phone but we realised we could not deliver the same level of service without an office, where we could see potential clients face to face. So we decided to close down and we were removed from the Register of Charties last September (2021) after completing over 33 years of providing free services to Brent's disabled communities, along with Brent Elders.
It will be interesting to see who takes over from Brent Advocacy Concerns and whoever it is, will they continue to provide services for free including advocacy, information and advice to Brent's estimated 50,000 disabled & elders who are all potential clients?
From John Healy
Former trustee and volunteer advocate of Brent Advocacy Concerns (Charity Number 1001369).