First Candidate to Gain Advocacy Certificate

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Mark Thain, an Advocacy worker from Connections in Sheffield has completed the Level 3 Certificate in Independent Advocacy.

Mark commenced the certificate in October 2010 and is the first ARC Training Services (ATS) candidate to complete a qualification from the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).

In this article Mark discusses his experiences with ATS.

How did you hear about the advocacy qualification with ARC?
I had been doing quite a lot of advocating for people within our Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust. We run three self-advocacy groups. We are called Connections and work for 60 people with learning disabilities that live in supported living. We are not part of the personal care or support which makes us one step removed and a little more independent. We provide a signposting service for our clients.

I wanted to extend my knowledge and add theory to my practice to make us a quality service to our clients. I had searched a number of agencies that had been promoting the new Certificate in Advocacy for Adults and found that no one was fully running these courses or had not started.

I contacted ARC after reading about their training services. After a brief discussion about the course with Gill Shaw, she agreed to tutor me in the certificate. For ARC, this was a new qualification and they were willing to help me achieve this.

How did you start your certificate?
My initial meeting with my Tutor was at ARC’s Chesterfield office where I met Gill. In this meeting we discussed my past educational experiences and qualifications and how the certificate could benefit my client group. We agreed that we could use the Internet to communicate between us submitting written evidence and getting feedback on the work I had done. We also agreed to meet regularly at the Chesterfield office to organise and mark work I had done. This was beneficial to me and made me feel less isolated.

How has your qualification progressed?
I have found the work fairly demanding, partly due to a different way of working using standards and outcomes as opposed to academic studies. This has got easier once you understand how you organise your work in the portfolio.

Were you involved at all stages?
I found the emailed correspondence fine, unless there was something I really could not grasp, then I could ring my tutor and visit her to help clarify any points I wanted more help with. Things always became clearer once we had met which helped me feel involved in my course.

Did you agree how evidence would be produced and assessed?
Gill explained that I could use my current practice based on the notes I made around any specific work with clients which would not be identifiable. This would then be cross-referenced with the certificate standards to meet the outcome of each unit. I would then receive feedback from my tutor.

Have Image: Certificateyou been happy with your assessment and rate of progress?
I feel that the rate of progress is largely down to you and I feel this has been ideal for me and feel I have done the certificate faster than expected and have had good feedback from my tutor.

What has it been like to be a candidate with ARC?
My experience with ARC has been very good. My tutor has been very helpful and approachable. I did not feel under pressure at any time and felt the feedback was conducted in a professional way, which was always positive.

Have you had any difficulties or sensitive issues to contend with and if so, how has your assessor dealt with these?
There has been some difficult cases to deal with in my work and actually exploring sensitive issues with my tutor in relation to the evidence has helped me to focus on what is important in the advocacy process and highlights the clear boundaries and standards any service offering such to match the theory behind the qualification with the service’s practice. My tutor has always been sympathetic and non-judgmental and aware of the need for a professional an d practical approach in dealing with confidential matters arising in my work.

Do you feel it has been worthwhile doing this qualification and do you think you have benefited and will do so in the future?
When I started this qualification I felt our service had good standards of practice. I now know that these have been confirmed by the standards within the qualification. I can see shortcomings in other services that could benefit from doing this certificate. I can see the benefits of the course and will continue to draw on the standards for many years to come and help others benefit from this knowledge too.

For information on the level 3 Certificate in Independent Advocacy vist the ATS training website.

Many thanks to Mark Thain for writing this article and congratulations on achieving the Certificate in Independent Advocacy.