The Gloucestershire Advocacy Service provides vulnerable adults with a VOICE to ensure that their needs and wishes are made known.

What is advocacy?

The Gloucestershire Advocacy Service provides vulnerable adults with a VOICE to ensure that their needs and wishes are made known, their views respected and their rights protected. This is a free and independent service.

“Advocacy helps you to have your say in what happens in your life. Advocacy is supporting you in speaking out about what you need.” (Action for Advocacy – the Advocacy Charter).
We deliver:
  • Health & Social Care Advocacy for Vulnerable Adults ages 18+
  • Transitional Advocacy for young people moving into Adult Health & Social Care services ages 16-17
  • Statutory Advocacy under the Mental Capacity Act (IMCA)
  • Statutory Advocacy under the Mental Health Act (IMHA).
  • Substance Misuse Advocacy

To get in contact with the Advocacy Service, call free on 0800 644 6448 or Click here to email the Advocacy Service.

What can an advocate do?

An advocate can take action to help you to:
  • Say what you want and make sure your voice is heard
  • Secure your rights and exercise your freedom of choice
  • Represent your interests
  • Obtain the services you need
  • Regain or retain personal dignity and independence
  • Gather information you may need to help you think about your choices
  • Make sure you are involved in decisions affecting your life
An advocate will not tell you what to say or make decisions for you. Advocacy is not a counseling, mentoring, advisory or befriending service.

What can an IMCA do?

IMCA (Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy) is a statutory form of advocacy that came into being in April 2007 as part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It provides safeguards for people who lack capacity to make certain serious decisions for themselves and have no one to represent them.

IMCA is for people who lack capacity to make decisions about:
  • A serious medical treatment
  • Moving into, or between, care settings (including hospital) other than for the short-term
  • If the person who will be in hospital for more than 28 days
  • If the person who will be in a care home for more than 8 weeks.
The IMCA does not make the decision. They will gather information about the person’s wishes, values and circumstances as well as identifying possible alternative courses of action, in order to inform the final decision.

What can an IMHA do?

IMHAs are specialist advocates who are trained to work within the framework of the Mental Health Act 1983. IMHAs are completely independent of any person or service that is involved with the patient’s treatment or care, and provide their services free of charge.
IMHAs will help patients to obtain information about and understand:
  • Their rights under the Mental Health Act
  • The rights that other people have in relation to them under the Mental Health Act
  • The particular part of the Mental Health Act that applies to them
  • Any medical treatment that they are receiving or might receive
IMHAs may also support patients in a range of other ways to ensure that they can participate in decisions that are made about their care and treatment. For example:
  • Engage with the care planning process
  • Access Mental Health Review Tribunals and Managers Hearings, prepare for them and understand the decisions made
  • Negotiate proper aftercare
  • Access other support and services
  • Raise concerns about their experience / care

Who can be supported by an IMHA?

The following people (‘qualifying patients’) have a statutory right to be informed about and to have access to the support of an IMHA:
  • Patients who are detained under 5.2 or 5.3 of the Mental Health Act, even if they are on section 17 leave from hospital
  • Conditionally discharged restricted patients
  • Patients subject to guardianship (5.7)
  • Patients subject to a supervised community treatment order (SCT)
  • Informal patients being considered for section 57 treatment (psychosurgery)
  • Informal patients who are under 18 and being considered for section 58a treatment (ECT)

What can a Substance Misuse Advocate do?

  • Inform of recovery based options available
  • Assist service users in accessing recovery oriented services and appropriate treatments
  • Act as a gateway to further services

If you are not sure if your issues could be helped by an advocate, please call the free phone number to discuss with an advocate.

How to access the Gloucestershire Advocacy Service:

You can call us on 0800 644 6448 (free from landlines and mobiles).
We also provide drop-in advocacy sessions at the following locations. You can call to make an appointment.
Cheltenham 1st Stop, 301-305 High Street, Cheltenham GL50 3HW
The Main Place, Old Station Way, Coleford, GL16 8RH
Services available by appointment, call 0800 644 6448
We can also make home visits. Please discuss this with your advocate.


“I was provided with advocacy to help me move forward and stand on my own two feet. Many thanks.” J.N.
“I feel the work was dealt with in the right way. The advocate was always very polite and understanding and got the things done that I needed help with and passed on the information to myself very clearly, so I could understand the feedback.” P.C.
“The advocate has been helping me out so well that I have grown in confidence and feel more sure of myself. I know where to go if I need help and depending on the nature of the issue feel that I have more confidence and knowledge to deal with it.” M.M.