A GOOD LIFE
There are many theories regarding the fundamental needs of human beings. While there are differences in detail, most agree that there are needs that must be met in order for a person to have “a good life”. These include food, shelter, clothing, understanding, acceptance, affection, a sense of identity, freedom to choose, and opportunities to relax, reflect and create.
For many people with intellectual disability their fundamental needs are not met. Many have few opportunities to develop friendships and networks in the community. Family may no longer be a part of their lives. If a person has no one who can take an interest in them, look out for their well being or to speak up on their behalf, loneliness, boredom, isolation and abuse can become a daily experience. Citizen Advocacy is a worldwide movement with the goal of addressing the unmet fundamental needs of people with intellectual disability.
The Side By Side Citizen Advocacy program seeks to create and support one to one voluntary relationships. People with intellectual disability, who are at risk of neglect, abuse or social isolation are identified by our staff. They are then recruited into the Citizen Advocacy program as “Protégés”. Ordinary people from the community are then identified, trained and matched to Protégés on a one to one basis to become Citizen Advocates. A successful Citizen Advocacy relationship provides the person with disability a much greater opportunity of living “a good life”.
Citizen Advocates are people who care about others and who are willing to respond to another person’s need. They come from all walks of life and are of all ages. Each advocate brings a variety of life experience and expertise. Most advocates are people with little or no experience with intellectual disability. Side by Side Advocacy provides training and ongoing support to our Citizen Advocates.
Crisis Advocates are people who perform the function of advocate for short and defined periods of time. Crisis Advocates are recruited and trained by Side By Side Advocacy, and then remain on standby until they are needed during times of crisis within the life of a person with disability.
Advocate Associates are people with specific professional and life expertise. They make themselves available to provide assistance and advice in an “as needed” capacity. Advocate Associates make a valuable contribution by providing assistance and advice to individuals within the program, or to the organisation as a whole.