SAM - A Brief History
In 2015 Swindon Advocacy Movement (SAM) proudly celebrated its 20th birthday. Playing a key part in supporting people with learning disabilities and Autism living in Swindon, over the years SAM has enabled many hundreds of people to have a voice who would otherwise not be heard. As a user led charity we have always had the needs of our members close to our hearts and central to all of our activities.
SAM started off providing volunteer ‘citizen advocates’ enabling people to live independently in the community on leaving long – stay hospitals. Our services then developed over the years to include specialist advocacy services for parents with learning disabilities, young people, people with high support needs and people with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism.
Our advocacy service for young people with disabilities ran from 2007 to 2015 and in that time made a difference to the lives of over 55 young people. As a development of that work we bid for and were awarded the contract to run the Swindon Independent Support Service for Young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and their families as the go through the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process
We have also worked directly with members to develop our self advocacy projects gathering the views of people living in Swindon and sending user representatives to inform local statutory service delivery and planning at the Swindon Learning Disability Partnership Board. We have run successful peer advocacy courses informing people with learning disabilities of their rights and empowering them to speak out and enable others to get help when needed, maintain independence and keep safe from harm. This work led to us developing ‘Walk in My Shoes’ learning disability awareness training run by trainers with learning difficulties and delivered to over 60 local care staff.
In January 2015 SAM services expanded to include statutory Care Act Advocacy, Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) and Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) and IMCA DoLs (Deprivation of Liberty. We have successfully transformed from a small local non-statutory advocacy service to providing a statutory advocacy service across a range of clients with care and support needs and this has been endorced by SAM achieving the Quality Performance Mark for Advocacy in April 2016.