Not for them or on them: exploring advocacy outcomes with people, with learning difficulties

Gratsias, Emmanouil (2021) Not for them or on them: exploring advocacy outcomes with people, with learning difficulties. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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The PhD study looked at the outcomes and impact of advocacy from the point of view of the people that use the service. According to Atkinson (1999) advocacy in its simplest form is “speaking up” for oneself or others nonetheless it is very rarely that simple. Gray and Jackson (2002) suggested that advocacy is based on the fundamental principle that all people are citizens with the same rights and responsibilities and that there is a need to combat the exclusion and marginalisation experienced by members of our society by promoting access to human as well as legal rights. Macadam et al. (2013) argued that few research studies systematically examined advocacy’s outcomes and impact. The lack of systematic evidence has been suggested to be even bigger in terms of advocacy impact and outcomes from the perspective of the people that use the service (Ridley et al., 2018).

The study used principles of participatory research, an approach that encourages participants to actively take part and contribute to the research (Northway, et al., 2014). The researcher worked closely with a steering group of self-advocates with learning difficulties that were actively involved and contributed to all the stages of the research process. The study used focus groups and narrative interviews with 13 participants to explore the advocacy outcomes and impact of advocacy. The study was underpinned by the social constructivist research theoretical framework, a framework compatible with the principles of the participatory research approach and advocacy (Holstein and Gubrium, 2008).

The analysis of the findings suggested that advocacy is producing mainly two types of outcomes. End-point outcomes which involve reaching (fully, partly or not at all) a practical target, such as a house move, agreed in the start of the partnership. And process outcomes, such as learning and or positive feelings, which are associated with the advocacy partnership’s journey. The participants reported that both types of outcomes were valued however, process outcomes were highlighted to be important and valued even when the desired end-point outcome was not reached.

The study concluded with developing the Advocacy Partnership model which describes the advocacy partnership process or journey and also looks at the utility of advocacy work. It is argued that although advocacy strives to empower people to speak up and self-advocate the best outcomes from advocacy will be realised when people with learning difficulties self-advocate for themselves and their views and wishes are listened to and acted upon. It is nonetheless asserted that, during our often hostile for people with disabilities times, advocacy has an important role of an ally to play by continuing the struggle for a more equal, fair, just, inclusive and equitable society alongside advocacy partners and self-advocates.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: participatory research, co-production, narrative research, social constructivism, disability studies
Subjects: L500 Social Work
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2022 09:00
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 13:15

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