LawWorks InfoExchange: The role of community and statutory advocacy in pro bono clinics

The LawWorks March InfoExchange looked at the role of community and statutory advocacy in pro bono clinics.

In this session we explored how pro bono projects can engage effectively with advocates providing advocacy under a statutory duty such as the Mental Health Act, and community advocates acting as part of a charity or community group. 

Topics covered included a look at: the role of Statutory Advocates and how the law around advocacy differs between England and Wales; the different types and roles of community advocates and how to work with them; advocacy for the older person; advocacy for hate crimes and Streetlaw around advocacy. 

Our speakers were: 

  • Joe Monaghan, Chief Officer at the National Coalition of Advocacy Schemes
  • Colette Isaaks, Director at OPAAL UK
  • Emma Mills, Advocacy Manager at Advocacy Support Cymru
  • Gill Edgar, Senior Advocacy Co-Ordinator Connected Voice

Joe Monaghan gave us an overview of the role of informal community advocacy and the work of the National Coalition of Advocacy Schemes where groups offer generic one to one community advocacy often involving telephone support and drop ins to people who need independent support and are often socially isolated.  The coalition is committed to an Advocacy Plus approach which recognises the effectiveness of advocacy when connected to other types of support including probono law clinics. Contact

Colette Isaaks spoke about the role of OPAAL a membership organisation (LawWorks is a member) which promotes and champions the work of independent advocates for older people. OPAAL aims to provide the strategic lead on advocacy with older people; ensure that older people have access to advocacy; support the development of new national advocacy projects to meet the needs of older people; and to improve standards of advocacy practice to older people.

Further information about the work of OPAAL can be found on their website (  

Emma Mills from Advocacy Support Cmyru explored the two areas of statutory advocacy: independent mental health advocacy (IMHA) and independent mental capacity advocacy (IMCA) settings. Set within the legislative framework of England and Wales she looked at statutory referral pathways and identified when a referral should be made alongside the role of Non-Instructed Advocacy (NIA) an approach to be used when an individual is unable to provide instructions due to impaired communication or capacity. For further information about Advocacy Support Cymru visit their website (

Gill Edgar, Senior Advocacy Co-Ordinator, Connected Voice explored the services that this award-winning charity provides.  Located in Newcastle they offer a range of services, including 

  • Community advocacy
  • Statutory advocacy
  • Hate Crime advocacy
  • Help through crisis
  • Spot contract advocacy
  • Strategic advocacy 

Gill memorably explained the role of the advocate as a ‘vampire robot’. The advocate must be invited in (by the individual) and like a robot, acts only on instructions.  More information about Connected Voice is available on their website ( 


Our thanks to all of our speakers.


Year of Publication

Type of Resource

Date of publication

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Date last reviewed

Wednesday, April 3, 2024