Karen Blair, Senior Multi Specialist Advocate for n|compass’s Wirral Advocacy Hub, shares her thoughts on a using human rights approach

n|compass provides a strength based approach to the advocacy we deliver. The aim is to support individuals to overcome barriers, enabling them to self-advocate in the future by achieving the effective communication of their rights, views, wishes and feelings in decision that affect their lives. n|compass advocates support people to become more aware of their own rights, to exercise those rights, and be involved in and influence decisions that are being made about their future. Advocates use human rights in all aspects of statutory and non statutory advocacy with the team ensuring a persons human rights are central to the health and social care processes they are involved in.

The Care and Support project we have been involved in with BIHR has led to a shift in the way we use human rights in our work, particularly as a result of the training advocates received. Advocates are more knowledgeable and confident in working towards embedding human rights into practice wherever and whenever they can and they put more of an emphasis on this being a positive duty for professionals working with people.

"We are much more confident about using a human rights approach after the training. Using real life examples and applying it directly to our work has been really effective. The feedback from the staff team has been fantastic. It has allowed staff to be more confident in applying human rights in their work."

We not only aim to have a human rights approach to our advocacy work, but also to help individuals and professionals alike understand that a person's human rights must be respected, protected and fulfilled in all aspects of the public sectors work with someone.

The resources advocates helped to develop have quickly become the ‘starting block’ of many aspects of the work we do. These accessible resources for advocates and individuals they work with, along with those developed for practitioners working in public services, enable human rights to be the basis of decisions being made around a person's care and support. This ultimately achieves the process being more person centred than it may have been previously. Using human rights in this way has led to advocates needing to challenge decisions less than they may have needed to before.

While advocates continue to face barriers to ensuring a human rights approach is central to health and social care processes, it is becoming more widely acknowledged that using human rights in the most positive way ultimately leads to increased benefits. Benefits not only for the public services being delivered, but also the professionals delivering those services and the person experiencing those services. Helping people to understand and use the resources themselves has been very beneficial for them.

My take on human rights

While our human rights can be restricted in certain situations, they can never be taken away. After all, they are what makes us human.