To provide the best possible services we work with our service users to make sure we are meeting their needs. We also build strong relationships with our supporters, commissioners, professionals and partner organisations.  

Our service users

All our services are user-led so advocates understand the importance of empowering their clients or service users. Together advocates and each service user make a Client Advocacy Plan. The plan includes the issues the service user wants support with; what they want to achieve; what they need to do; and what the advocate will do to support them. The plan is made at the start of their work together and is checked and changed when needed.

We are proud to be the largest user-led national advocacy provider in England but we know we need to work hard to involve our service users in the way POhWER is run and how our services work. We ask for their feedback and if there is a problem we try to find a way to sort it out. Sometimes we send surveys to our service users or we might arrange a local event to hear what they have to say. We have also involved our service users in improving our leaflets and this website.


Our partners

Developing good working relationships with other local organisations helps us understand the needs of the local population. By sharing local knowledge with community organisations and support groups we can ensure that we reach hard-to-reach communities and everyone needing our support can access it. We share information about services with our partners so that we can make referrals to each other. Together we can spot gaps in services and work together to stop people falling through them.

We also share resources with our partners such as providing or sharing the cost of training and organising shared drop-in sessions and awareness raising events. Examples of joint working with our partners include: working with local Healthwatch groups to identify trends of poor care in NHS services; working with local disabled people’s support groups to make sure their members can access our services; providing training about Care Act advocacy to carers groups.


Commisioners

Our commissioners are mainly local councils and independent providers of secure units who employ us to provide advocacy, information and advice services.

We want our commissioners to be confident that we are providing high quality, good value services so we meet with them regularly and provide detailed reports of the work we are doing. As well as the numbers we also share anonymous feedback and case studies so that they understand more about our work and its value. We try to ensure that we have an open and honest relationship with commissioners so that they feel able to contact us straightaway if they have any concerns.

By building good relationships with commissioners we are able to work with them to identify opportunities and develop new models for services. For example we worked with a number of local councils to develop a model for Care Act advocacy. We ran pilots of the new service with local councils during 2015/16 so they could meet their legal duty.


Professionals

POhWER’s advocates and managers understand the importance of having good working relationships with the professionals our service users rely on for their care and treatment. We know that good communication with doctors, social workers, care managers, complaints teams and other professionals can help us get better outcomes for our service users.

We rely on professionals to refer people who need support to us so it is important that they know how to contact us and understand the service we provide including who we can support. It is also important that they have confidence in our services and know that our advocates are well trained and qualified. The best way to build good working relationships is to have regular contact so we make a point of going out to meet professionals, offer training and attend team meetings to explain our services.

Our services are independent, confidential and user-led so we never allow relationships with professionals to negatively affect our work with service users.


Our supporters

Anyone can support POhWER either by becoming a member or a supporter. Our supporters are really important to us; they help us understand what is happening in their area and tell other people about our services in their local community. Supporters also help us with local fundraising. So that they know what is happening at POhWER we send them our local newsletters.

Supporters who want to be more involved can become members. Our members help our Board of Trustees make decisions about POhWER by coming to our Annual General Meeting, telling us what they think and voting.

Many of our supporters and members are or were users of our services so they really understand what support our services users need, what POhWER does and what we could do better. Their opinions are valuable to us so we sometimes contact them when we are planning changes or if we want their views on something the government or a local council is doing.