Code of Conduct

Advocacy Support Manager and Workers for Ulster Human Rights Watch are committed to contributing to the delivery of high quality advocacy services to victims and survivors of terrorism related incidents in Northern Ireland. They endeavour to provide a safe and compassionate advocacy service of a high standard.

This Code tells clients of the service exactly what they should expect from Advocacy Support Manager and Workers from Ulster Human Rights Watch.

Advocacy Support Manager and Workers for the Ulster Human Rights Watch must:

  • Be clear about the purpose of advocacy.
  • Be accountable by making sure they can answer for their actions or omissions.
  • Maintain a victim centred approach.
  • Empower victims to ensure they are at the heart of decision-making.
  • Promote equal opportunities.
  • Work in collaboration with their colleagues to en sure the delivery of high quality, advocacy.
  • Communicate in an open and effective way to pro mote effective delivery of the Advocacy Service.
  • Respect beneficiary rights to confidentiality.
  • Strive to improve the quality of advocacy service through continuing professional development.

Following is the detail of the UHRW code of conduct:

1. Clarity

  • Advocacy Support Manager and Workers are clear about the nature and extent of their role. They understand the boundaries of their advocacy role and non-advocacy roles such as mediation and advice giving.
  • They never act outside of these boundaries. Advocates should seek permission (where the client has the capacity to consent or refuse) to refer beneficiaries on to other agencies where appropriate.
  • Are responsible for providing clients with a clear explanation of their role at the start of any new relationship, which should include providing easy to read materials where this is required.
  • Provide written information about their organisation and a copy of this Code of Practice to beneficiaries, or other professionals if requested.

2. Accountability

  • Advocacy Support Manager and Workers operate within the law at all times, and ensure adherence to the Ulster Human Rights Watch employment and funding contracts.
  • They ensure awareness of duties and responsibilities under employment law.
  • Are aware of statutory duties with regards to human rights legislation and safeguards.
  • Maintain accurate and up to date written records of actions taken and progress made with their work. Clients should be kept informed of and involved in all aspects of the advocacy process.
  • Comply with the Ulster Human Rights Watch data collection policy and the Data Protection Act 1998 and ensure client-monitoring information is routinely collected and fed back to the organisation.
  • Are honest with themselves and others about what they can do, recognise their abilities and the limitations of their competence and only carry out or delegate those tasks agreed in their job description and for which they are competent.
  • Always behave and present themselves in a way that does not call into question their suitability to work in an advocacy environment.
  • Are able to justify and be accountable for their actions or omissions – what they fail to do.
  • Always ask for guidance if they do not feel able or adequately prepared to carry out any aspect of their work, or if they are unsure how to effectively deliver a task.
  • Tell their Ulster Human Rights Watch line manager about any issues that might affect their ability to do their job competently and safely. If they do not feel competent to carry out an activity, they must report this.
  • Establish and maintain clear and appropriate professional boundaries in their relationships with people who use the Advocacy Service at all times.
  • Never accept any offers of loans, gifts, benefits or hospitality from anyone they are advocacy service to or anyone close to them which may be seen to compromise their position.
  • Report any actions or omissions by themselves or colleagues that they feel may compromise the safety or interests of clients who use the Advocacy Service and, if necessary use whistle blowing procedures to report any suspected wrongdoing.
  • Do not accept gifts other than one-off, inexpensive items, which should be declared to the line manager. Further gifts should be declined, and an explanation given to the client.
  • Do not make promises to clients, which may not be possible to fulfil.

3. Victim Centred Approach

  • Advocacy Support Manager and Workers ensure advocacy support is appropriate to the client’s needs and/or expressed wishes.
  • Base their actions on mutually agreed plans and preferred outcomes, and work in partnership with clients to achieve this.
  • Agree a plan of action and identify initial outcomes and timescales with clients without being prescriptive or inflexible.
  • Ensure the client’s fundamental human rights are respected and upheld at all times.

4. Victim Empowerment

  • Advocacy Support Manager and Workers promote supportive decision-making to ensure clients are at the heart of decisions about their own case, care and support.
  • Record the outcomes achieved by advocacy clients.
  • Promote the clients’ rights within decision-making meetings and highlight relevant guidance and legislation that underpins this.
  • Ensure clients understand what their rights and options are with respect to the specific decision at hand. Where the advocate is unable to do this either due to a lack of knowledge, skills or specific expertise he should support clients to access the most appropriate representation, advice or information.
  • Inform clients of their right to request a change of advocate (within the constraints of the organisation), or terminate contact with the advocate, at any time if clients are unhappy with the advocate’s approach to a particular issue.
  • Be open and transparent in their work with clients.
  • Provide clients with information about making a complaint about the service or advocate.
  • Provide clients with information about how they can give feedback to the advocacy provider about its work and how to get involved in the wider activities of the organisation if they wish, where this is an option.

5. Equal Opportunities

  • Advocacy Support Manager and Workers ensure the capacity to meet the needs of clients and where this is compromised e.g. due to lack of resources, this is raised with relevant stakeholders and/or funders.
  • Are fully conversant with the Ulster Human Rights Watch equal opportunities policy and are able to explain it to others in straightforward language. Policy should be adhered to at all times.
  • Are aware of duties and responsibilities under relevant human rights and equality legislation including the Equality Act 2010, Human Rights Act 1998 and other relevant wider policies that promote victim centred advocacy and support.
  • Challenge any evidence of unfair or unequal treatment and challenge discriminatory practice. Ensure there are systems in place that enable whistle blowing, complaining, making a safeguarding alert or access to legal advice where appropriate.
  • Are respectful of clients’ religious, cultural and spiritual needs and are proactive in ensuring these are met.

6. Collaboration

  • Advocacy Support Manager and Workers understand and value their contribution and the vital part they play in providing advocacy services.
  • Recognise and respect the roles and expertise of their colleagues in Ulster Human Rights Watch.
  • Work openly and co-operatively with colleagues including those from other disciplines and agencies, and treat them with respect.
  • Work openly and co-operatively with people who use the Advocacy Service and their families and treat them with respect.
  • Honour their work commitments, agreements and arrangements and are reliable, dependable and trustworthy.
  • Actively encourage the delivery of high quality advocacy services.

7. Communication

  • Advocacy Support Manager and Workers communicate respectfully with people who use advocacy services and their families in an open, accurate, effective, straightforward and confidential way.
  • Communicate effectively and consult with your Ulster Human Rights Watch colleagues as appropriate.
  • Always explain and discuss the advocacy support they intend to carry out with the beneficiary and only continue if they give valid consent.
  • Maintain clear and accurate records of the advocacy support they provide.
  • Recognise both the extent and the limits of their role, knowledge and competence when communicating with people who use the Advocacy Service.

8. Confidentiality

  • Advocacy Support Manager and Workers treat all information about clients who use the Advocacy Service and their families as confidential.
  • Only discuss or disclose information about clients who use the Advocacy Service and their families in accordance with the legislation and Ulster Human Rights Watch policy.
  • Always seek guidance regarding any information or issues that they are concerned about.
  • Always discuss issues of disclosure with a line manager.

9. Continuing Professional Development

  • Advocacy Support Manager and Workers ensure up to date compliance with all statutory and mandatory training, in agreement with minimum standards frameworks.
  • Participate in continuing professional development to achieve the competence required for their role.
  • Carry out competence-based training and education in line with their agreed ways of working.
  • Improve the quality and safety of the Advocacy Service.
  • Maintain an up-to-date record of training and development.
  • Contribute to the learning and development of others as appropriate.
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