SCIE Position paper 6: Supporting self-advocacy

By Annie Lawton

Published: February 2007

The purpose of this report is to share ideas about self-advocacy for people with learning disabilities and those who are committed to supporting self-advocacy such as service providers, commissioners, parents and carers. A number of people with a learning disability and supporters were involved in developing this information and suggesting how to present it. The idea is for supporters and carers to work through this together and discuss the different ideas raised about supporting self advocacy.

Key messages

These are the key messages from the workshop and from the review of what has been written about self-advocacy:

  • Self-advocacy should make a difference - not just in learning disability services, but in all areas of people’ lives.
  • People with a learning disability are interested in lots of different things and don’t just want to talk about learning disability issues.
  • People with a learning disability want support to see the links between issues in their own lives and other people or organisations such as community groups, political parties and parent groups.
  • Involvement should be genuine, not just 'tick a box’.
  • Real honesty is needed about what people can or cannot change.
  • People with a learning disability want a chance to talk about the things that are important to them - not agendas set by other people.
  • It is important to find out what organisations like partnership boards think - what problems they face and what they need to know to involve people better.


The learning disability white paper Valuing people said that people with learning disabilities should be more involved in planning the services they use. It gave people with a learning disability the right to speak up for themselves and to make a difference. As a result social care and health services are trying to involve people more.


This report looks at what support people with learning disabilities need to speak up for themselves to and make a difference. In particular, it looks at the role of supporters in self-advocacy for people with a learning disability and how together supporters and people with learning disabilities can bring about changes in social care.


SCIE will use the ideas in this paper to plan other work on advocacy and people with learning disabilities. The paper will also be useful to service providers, commissioners, parents, carers and anyone else who is committed to supporting self-advocacy.


All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following downloads you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • Supporting self-advocacy
  • 'My Support - How I Like It' poster