Sometimes it helps to have someone else who can speak on your behalf and represent your interests, especially in formal situations or when you don't feel very confident. A person who speaks on your behalf in this way is often called an advocate.

Advocates can help you get your views or wishes across about the issues which are important to you, such as the care or medical treatment which you receive, or the management of your finances.

Advocacy doesn't always have to be provided by paid professionals. Often people take a friend or family member with them to important meetings with doctors, social workers or other professionals, to give them moral support and to speak up on their behalf.

Alternatively there are organisations that can arrange for a professional advocate to go with you to a meeting, or to contact someone on your behalf. A professional advocate will know about your rights, and about the options which should be made available to you, and will make sure that your views are properly heard.

The following local organisations can provide an independent advocate for you:

Local advocacy support
Advocacy for All works with older people, disabled people and people with mental health issues in Sutton to make sure they are listened to when they are making decisions for now and in the future. More information from 020 8300 9666,, or make a referral online

Refugees and migrants
Refugee and Migrant Network Sutton provides advocacy support for refugees, asylum seekers and newly settled immigrants. Find out how to get in contact.

Older people
Age UK's One Voice for Age peer advocacy can help if you are having trouble dealing with an issue and don’t feel your views and wishes are being properly listened to. It's available 9am - 5pm, Monday to Thursday. Contact or 020 8770 4614. You can also make a referral online.

People with learning disabilities
VoiceAbility Sutton Self-Advocacy Group is made up of people with learning disabilities who used to attend Hallmead Day Centre prior to its closure within the London Borough of Sutton. It meets each week at Sutton Centre for Independent Living and Learning. More information from 07557 746415,

People with mental health problems
The Advocacy Project provides advocacy for people with mental health problems in hospital.

Other information and advice
Royal Association for the Deaf provides free advocacy for deaf, black, minority ethnic or refugee clients living in London.

Independent Age provides a guide called Independent Advocacy.

Mind provides information on advocacy for people with mental health problems.

Older People's Advocacy Alliance promotes the importance of advocacy for older people, and provides a directory of older people's advocacy services in the London area.

Diabetes UK provides advocacy for people with diabetes.

NHS Choices provides information on advocacy.