Preston Advocacy began as the Preston Short Term Advocacy Project in November 1995 based at Preston Council for Voluntary Service. It was set up in response to a need to provide a voice for vulnerable people, especially those who had disabilities, including Mental Health issues, Learning Disabilities or were vulnerable due to their age. The catalyst for this was the closure of Whittingham Hospital in 1995, and the drive for ‘Care in the Community’
Preston Advocacy is a members association, who adopted their own constitution on the 13th November 1998, formed a board of trustees, and was registered as a charity on the 11th May 1999.
The first specialist project was a Dementia project from 2000 to 2002, followed by a Mental Health Advocacy Service which commenced in September 2003. Between 2003 and 2007 funding also allowed for provision of an Older Person’s Advocacy Service.
Due to demand, in 2006 a pilot was set up for a Parent Advocacy Project supporting parents whose children were involved with Social Services, in the first year support was provided to parents with Learning Disabilities or experiencing Mental Health issues, in the second year due to funding this had to be restricted solely to Learning Disabilities.
From 2006 Preston Advocacy formed a consortium with East Lancs Advocacy and N-compass, which allowed us to provide the IMCA (Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy) service from 2007.
Preston Advocacy were well thought of within the sector and thus were able to be part of the trial for the IMHA (Independent Mental Health Advocacy) service during 2009, and then became service providers in 2010, when it was rolled out nationally. Also during 2007 an Advocacy project started with the Hamptons an Independent Hospital in South Ribble, to provide citizen’s advocacy by way of regular drop-ins and support for residents to attend service user forum meetings.
From 2009, new contracts were awarded for Generic Advocacy within Chorley, South Ribble and West Lancashire, along with existing provision for Preston residents. These contracts, along with working across Central Lancashire on the aforementioned IMCA and IMHA projects, led to a decision to change the charity name to Central Advocacy to reflect the wider geographic scope of our work.
From 2011, Central Advocacy also delivered Generic Mental Health contract for Chorley, South Ribble after the closure of the local service. During 2012 a merger took place with West Lancashire Advocacy, who thus transferred their Generic Mental Health Services into Central Advocacy.
Sadly from 2012 the Lancashire Consortium for Advocacy was disbanded, as the views of partners became progressively more diverse, and joint delivery of the IMCA service became untenable.
In March 2012 we were awarded the Quality Performance Mark from Action for Advocacy for 3 years, this nationally recognised kite mark identified Central Advocacy, as “A dedicated and passionate team who had a clear understanding of advocacy and were constantly exploring ways to develop and improve their services.”
In 2013 Lancashire County Council became charged with the duty of commissioning all Advocacy services within Lancashire, due to changes from health authorities, to Clinical Commissioning Groups, and the setting up of extended Public health bodies. At this point a decision was taken to reduce the number of services in operation, and commission County Wide Advocacy provision. Unfortunately Central Advocacy was not successful in this process, and thus are not currently providing any statutory advocacy services.
The trustees and remaining staff of Central Advocacy, along with our loyal team of volunteers, decided that the way forward was to return to our roots, and look at Advocacy needs in our local community, consider starting pilot projects as we have done in our earlier years and then look for charitable funding to sustain this.
To reflect this, our name has been changed yet again from November 2013 to ICANN, Independent Community Advocacy Network North. The first community Advocacy project was the Benefits Assessment Advocacy project, and will hopefully be followed by others.
If you are aware of any unmet Advocacy needs in your local area, please contact us, we are currently exploring where we can work together with groups or individuals to source funding for where there are gaps in Advocacy.