Disability advice and advocacy: where to go for help

With government cuts biting into councils and care budgets, Disability Horizons writer Nichola Daunton explores the advice and advocacy options available for those who need support, wish to challenge a decision, or feel they’ve been treated unfairly…

With the recent phasing out of ILF and the switch to PIP, many disabled people in the UK are facing difficult decisions regarding their day-to-day lives. So where can you go for independent advice and advocacy if you believe you’ve been treated unfairly, or want to challenge a decision about your care package or Personal Independence Payment? We’ve brought together a list of the UK’s biggest advocacy and advice services for disabled people, those with learning disabilities, and people who care for loved-ones and family members.

The Disability Law Service
The Disability Law Service has been offering free legal advice to disabled people and their carers since 1975. The DLS provides free legal advice over the telephone, as well as a range of factsheets which are available on their website. These factsheets provide information on topics such as community care law, employment law, welfare benefits, human rights, and discrimination. The DLS also provides legal representation in a limited number of community care law and employment law cases, for clients who are in receipt of legal aid.


Advice Service: 0207 791 9800 – Mon to Fri, 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm

You can donate to the Disability Law Service here.

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Citizens Advice
The Citizens Advice service was set up in 1939 in order to help people in Britain with problems caused by the outbreak of the Second World War. Since then, Citizens Advice continue to offer free, independent, and confidential advice to everyone in the UK, either over the phone, online, or in person. With over 3,500 advice bureaus, you can search for your local branch here, and it may also be possible to arrange a home visit. Citizens Advice offers information about a huge range of issues, including benefits, work, debt, housing, law and rights, and discrimination. They may also be able to signpost you to another organisation that will be able to offer you further advice, depending on your needs.


Adviceline Wales: 03444 77 20 20

Adviceline England: 03444 111 444

Webchat service

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Mencap: Empower Me
The learning disability charity Mencap set up the Empower Me service in order to provide personalised advocacy for anyone with a learning disability. Available in England and Wales, Empower Me offers a variety of services to its users, including one-to-one support on issues such as health and social care, housing, relationships, parenting, and leisure activities. It also provides Group Advocacy and Non-Instructed Advocacy, which is designed for people who are unable to request the service for themselves because they do not have the capacity to give consent, or because they have difficulty communicating.

Empower me is not a free service, but users can pay in a variety of ways, whether via the direct payment scheme, funding from your local authority, or with private funds. The service is also very flexible and can be tailored to your specific needs and accessed on weekdays, evenings or weekends.

In order to find out if Empower Me is available in your area you can contact Mencap in a variety of ways:

Freephone: 0808 808 1111


Via their online contact form, which can be found here.

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VoiceAbility offers a wide range of advocacy services throughout England, assisting those with mental health needs, learning disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders, physical disabilities, sensory and communication impairments, Dementia, substance misuse issues, acquired brain injury, a serious physical illness or a dual diagnosis. They also work with carers, parents and families.

VoiceAbility provides many different forms of advocacy, including many types of Statutory Advocacy (advocacy for people who are legally entitled to have an independent advocate) such as Care and Support Advocacy, Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy and Independent Mental Health Advocacy.

They also provide a wide range of Community Advocacy options, including: Professional Advocacy, Citizen Advocacy (provided by volunteers), Carers Advocacy, Family Advocacy and Looked After Children Advocacy.

In order to find out about services specific to your area, visit the VoiceAbility website here and follow the link to the appropriate page.

Head Office: 01223 555800 – Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm

Text phone users should dial 18001 01223 555800

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POhWER is a registered charity and membership organisation that provides free, independent and confidential advocacy to disabled people, people with learning disabilities, people on the Autistic spectrum, people with sensory impairments, those who feel they have been let down by the NHS and wish to make a complaint, children and young people, and anyone who has experienced exclusion or discrimination.

POhWER provides many different types of advocacy service, including: NHS Complaints Advocacy, Independent Mental Health Advocacy, Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy and Community Advocacy. They also offer support with managing direct payments and related assistance, and support with finding staff and managing personal budgets.


Phone: 0300 456 2370


Skype: pohwer.advocacy (Mon to Fri, 8am – 6pm)

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Serving the South of England, SEAP (Support, Empower, Advocate, Promote) provide a wide range of advocacy services to people who feel that they have been let down by their local health or social care services. They can also work on behalf of you or a loved one if you feel you have been discriminated against or placed at a disadvantage in terms of your care or treatment.

SEAP provide free, confidential and independent advice and a wide range of advocacy options, including Independent Health Complaints Advocacy, Independent Mental Health Advocacy, Community Mental Health Advocacy, Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy, Older Carers Advocacy, Learning Disability Advocacy, Physical Disability Advocacy and Acquired Brain Injury Advocacy.

You can contact SEAP using this online form, and someone will get back to you via phone or email about your enquiry.

Head Office: 0330 440 9000


Fax: 01424 204687

You can also connect with SEAP on Facebook.

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Carers UK
With 6,000 people becoming carers each day, Carers UK exists in order to help those who care deal with the complicated decisions that they have to make, by informing them of their rights and entitlements. An advice service, Carers UK provides information on financial support, work and career options, health and relationship management, as well as information about equipment and technology.

The charity can also put you in touch with other carers in your local area, and runs an online community where carers throughout the UK can share advice and support one another.

Carers UK Advice Line: 0808 808 7777 – Mon to Fri, 10am – 4pm


Or you can fill in the online form here.

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Level Playing Field
LPF is a registered charity in England and Wales, and acts as a campaigning and advisory organisation to its membership and other parties across all sports.  Our aim is to improve the spectator experience for disabled supporters by ‘promoting good access for all fans’.  We work to tackle disability discrimination and promote equality of opportunity within sport. We also work closely with clubs, supporter groups, national disability organisations and other partners across the world of sport, politics and the media to educate people about access and inclusion issues and ensure the needs to disabled supporters are met by service providers. LPF advocates the ‘social model of disability’ which highlights that it is social and physical barriers that cause disability not impairments.

Club Mediation Service for Supporters
LPF offers a professional mediation service for clubs, individuals and supporter groups to help resolve issues affecting disabled supporters.  We mediate on numerous access issues such as ticketing policies, transport issues, availability and quality of disabled seating, sightlines and the provision of accessible services.  We offer this service across all sports and complaints are dealt with by our highly skilled, knowledgeable and experienced Access and Development Team, all of whom are professional National Register Access Consultants (NRAC) auditors. Complaints can be taken up anonymously if the complainant does not wish to be identified.

Phone: 0208 621 2403


By Nichola Daunton

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