Self-advocacy in disability sector is highlighted at HSE hosted event in Donegal

 1st December 2022

 Media Release

Self-advocacy in disability sector is highlighted at HSE hosted event in Donegal

On Thursday 1st of December 2022 a self-advocacy learning event was hosted by the HSE in collaboration with Community Healthcare Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo (CH CDLMS) Disability Services, the Disability Federation of Ireland and Inclusion Ireland in Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, Donegal. 

Self-advocacy is essentially the action of communicating and representing one’s needs, views or interests. It is about understanding your rights, speaking up, taking action and taking control of one’s life. Where people cannot speak up for themselves they are supported to do so by others. Effective self-advocacy will mean that a person has good information, training, the right support when needed, opportunities to learn by doing, confidence in themselves and will understand that self-advocacy can be at an individual or group level. 

Attendees at the event included self-advocates, persons accessing disability services, key workers, service and senior managers from the disability services, facilitators and staff from other HSE support services. The learning event consisted of keynote speeches and facilitated workshops. 

In a recent consultation, self-advocates said that: “Doing practical projects and not just talking is important if you want to make HSE services better. If you’re in an advocacy group, and ask for something to be done, and then it gets done – that gives you a lot of confidence. Sharing different ideas in an advocacy group helps you to come up with better ideas – it can change the way you think. That’s why this learning event is important. We want to change the way the HSE thinks about the people supported by services.” 

PJ Cleere, Disability Federation of Ireland stated “Self-advocacy doesn’t just happen. It requires support and encouragement, the right environment to flourish and the provision of the skills and tools needed to help people to gain their voice. After that it is a journey of partnership, where all partners are committed to hear and really listen to what is being said. Today’s learning event is an important step on this journey. 

Barry Lynch, Inclusion Ireland said “Inclusion Ireland have been asked by the HSE National Office to develop a Standard Operating Procedure for HSE services so that disabled people can participate effectively jn planning and decision making about the services that support them. In the Northwest, we have been working closely with disabled people and the HSE on a number of pilot projects to strengthen the voice of disabled people who are supported by HSE funded services. We very much welcome this opportunity for disabled people to inform the development of an advocacy strategy in Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, and Sligo.” 

The aims of the learning event included the promotion of self-advocacy throughout Disability Services in the Community Healthcare Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo area, and within the organisations delivering services in this area. To increase participant’s knowledge of the supports and resources needed to embed self-advocacy in services. To empower self-advocates to contribute more effectively in shaping and developing the services they require and to support key workers to facilitate and empower self-advocates within the services they avail of. 

Head of Disability Services for CH CDLMS, Edel Quinn, provided an overview of current work and what is needed for the future stating “Today is the beginning of a process with relevant people to inform the development of a strategic plan which will support and promote self-advocacy being embedded throughout those organisations delivering Disability Services in this Community Healthcare area. Self-advocacy is core to ensuring that we hear the voices of people with disabilities when planning and developing services in order to try to deliver the best services possible”

Last updated on: 02 / 12 / 2022