The four main principles of Advocacy are empowerment, autonomy, inclusion and citizenship and these are fostered through Self Advocacy Training and the Self Advocacy Committee in CWCW. Advocacy helps the clients to speak up for themselves, put forward their views and gain more control of their lives. It provides them with a mechanism whereby their needs, rights, opinions and hopes are taken seriously and acted upon.
The Self Advocacy Committee was set up approximately eight years ago as a result of clients receiving Advocacy training through their training programme. Staff have a role to play and are familiar with the process. Management frequently attend Committee meetings to address grievances and clarify issues as they arise.
The Committee hold elections each May and all sections of CWCW have a representative. The Committee meets on a monthly basis and representatives from each section bring grievances, ideas, suggestions etc to the meeting. The meetings are facilitated by a member of staff who provides support and guidance to the committee members.
The Self Advocacy Committee has instigated several changes both internally and externally to the organisation.
Some of these include:
- Organising the European Day for People with Disabilities in December each years.
- Organised the first foreign holiday for service users and continue to do so every two years
- Participating in the Christmas Party – organising committee each year
- Successfully obbying for a pedestrian crossing at a busy road junction outside CWCW (E) Ltd. Bellefield, Enniscorthy
- Inviting President Mary McAlese to visit the Centre
- Lobbying to have the pass machines in Enniscorthy made more accessible for those with impaired mobility.
Each year a delegation from the Self Advocacy Committee and Training attend the Inclusion Ireland Conference. (Inclusion Ireland promotes the rights of people with an intellectual disability.)The Advocacy Committee and groups on Training also attend the South East Service Users Forum “Seasamh Meetings”. Several service users have also completed a Certificate in Leadership Course in Waterford Institute of Technology and they graduated in 2007 others in 2008.
Self Advocacy Project. In partnership with CWCW (New Ross) Ltd., St. Aidan’s Service, Gorey and funded by Citizen’s Information Board.
In 2008 CWCW (E) Ltd. has been developing Self Advocacy Project which focused on providing extra training for service users in Advocacy. To date introductory In-house training has been delivered in July 2008 and a new Certificate in Advocacy Course at FETAC Level 5 has commenced in the Wexford campus of Carlow I.T. 5 service users from CWCW (E) Ltd. are participating in this course and all are very excited at being part of the mainstream student body in the Wexford campus. The project will continue to develop further Self Advocacy Committees within the service and support the service users to develop the necessary skills.