This question formed the basis of small group discussions at the recent Networking Forum for peer volunteers of Dorset Macmillan Advocacy at Help and Care. Our volunteers come together every other month to share experiences and learn from one another. In November there was a real buzz as our newly inducted team met our volunteers who have already had several partnerships. The groups formed for this particular discussion included a mix of experienced and rookie advocates so the question could be considered from a theoretical angle and looked at in practice.
There was enormous energy in the room and fierce engagement with this topic. Jo Lee, Macmillan Senior Advocate, invited feedback from the discussion and we captured many interesting points including those shown below. One volunteer commented afterwards that she felt that participants had been ‘courageous’.
‘A partner may have other issues such as social issues or co-morbidities which are of greater concern to them.’
‘By getting to know your partner you allow their priorites to become clear.’
‘Guard against saying “I know how you feel” – we all feel differently’
‘The practicalities of how we personally cope could be more relevant that how we ourselves feel or felt.’
‘It could help a partner to know that their peer volunteer advocate has come through difficult times.’
‘Create a safe space for your partner to think and speak in.’
We were very glad to be joined on the day by Rosie Young from Oxfordshire Advocacy (see Rosie’s recent post). Rosie stated how valuable she felt advocacy support had been for her and described her experience to us. Help and Care and Oxfordshire Advocacy are linked as part of the mentoring scheme for new delivery partners and Dorset Advocacy are similarly linked with AgeUK Bristol.
Kathleen Gillett, Dorset Macmillan Advocacy