I am a volunteer community advocate with POhWER. Community advocacy is a service for people who need support to deal with an issue they are facing, particularly if their voice is not being heard by people in a position to help them. We are not experts or advisers. We do what the client wants us to do, which could include writing emails, making telephone calls, and finding out information.

Volunteering at POhWER has led me to a lot of new places; I have spoken to social workers about support for my clients, chased hospitals for medical consultations, helped clients to appeal against the withdrawal of services, found a charity that could provide housing, corresponded with a veterans association to get some spending money for a client, liaised with the police about property that had been confiscated, supported a client who was having to move from a family house to a care home, and helped someone to put together an appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman.

I have learned a lot from the clients themselves - their insight and persistence, and from the experience of fellow advocates. POhWER provides training and supplies the backup and answers when you need them.

Often the client and the advocate will succeed in their efforts; sometimes they will fail. An advocate learns a lot about the society they live in.

A community advocate has to believe that everyone should be listened to when they say what they want, and that they should be able to get the information and services they need and assert their rights. Anyone who shares that belief should think about becoming a volunteer community advocate, a role I would warmly recommend.

Find out more about volunteering with POhWER.