Citizen Advocacy involves a community member, who is carefully matched with an adult (18+) member of our community that has an intellectual disability. The level of citizen advocacy varies in each relationship depending on the person's needs, their current situation and goals/dreams for the future. The advocates availability and capabilities are also taken in to account, and the match created will be based on these factors. To give you an idea of the kind of roles an advocate can fulfill, the following is a list of the most common; - Sharing time, a simple gesture that creates inclusion and self worth. - Helping the person reconnect or stay connected with family and friends. - Empowering the person and assisting them in pursuing a goal (big or small), from finding a job or a home to supporting them with an interest/hobby. - Being a voice and standing up for the persons's rights. - Attending Doctors appointment with the person.
Why is Citizen Advocacy needed? People with intellectual disabilities are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups within our community. They have often experienced rejection and isolation from a young age and have had no one in their lives except those who are paid to be there. They can become disconnected and isolated from the community. This alone has a huge impact on their quality of life and Citizen advocacy is there to prevent this from happening.
Citizen Advocacy is simple, it nurtures a freely given one-to one relationship which promotes acceptance, security and justice for the person. It really does change their life and it will change yours too. Please take time to watch the short video on our home page for an emotional insight into what a relationship between two amazing people can achieve.
While most relationships can organically evolve in to a life long friendship, others can be short term and for a specific purpose.
Everyone of us has the potential to make a difference to someone’s life. No particular skills are necessary to become a citizen advocate, just the desire and commitment to make a positive difference to the life of a person who is isolated or at risk. Citizen Advocates are people who believe in equality and justice for all. Married, single, young, old, male, female, we want to hear from you to discuss the possibilities.
Being a Citizen Advocate for someone enriches their life in ways that most of us take for granted, the simple gesture of a phone call, an outing or visit and cup of tea, creates a world of inclusion, acceptance and hope to the person. The impact is truly life changing to both involved.
Do you think that becoming a Citizen Advocate is something you can do ? Call or email our Program Manager - Frank Damiano or Program Support Officer - Carol Herman to discuss your options further. Here at NECA we want this to be a positive and safe experience for you and all concerned, so through our recruiting and induction phases we'll make sure it is.
"A community where every person's life has inherent dignity and value."