This project is funded through the Big Lottery ‘Awards for All’ programme which aims to:

1) Bring together older people’s advocacy providers and to build stronger relationships across our England network

2) Improve the places and spaces that matter to communities, specifically care homes, by working with advocacy providers to ensure local care homes understand the role of independent advocacy and are ready to make an active offer to older people in their care.

The Older People’s Advocacy Alliance exists to promote access to high-quality independent advocacy for all older people. We have had many successes over the years, but now find ourselves at a crossroads.

Advocacy has changed since OPAAL was first established. We have long argued that all older people should have access to high-quality independent advocacy provision. In practice, the scene has become very fragmented, with a range of ‘statutory’ services such as Independent Mental Health Advocates, Independent Mental Capacity Advocates, Care Act Advocates and NHS Complaints Advocates.

Unfortunately older people are still falling through the gaps in these services, which often have very restricted criteria for eligibility. So there is much work remaining for OPAAL to do. We can only do this through the network of wider advocacy providers whom we represent.

We need to reconnect with our members and supporters across England to reinvigorate our strategic objectives. We will use this money to fund consultation with existing and potential supporters across the English Regions.

We need to talk to advocacy providers to find out what their current needs are. We have delivered a very successful cancer advocacy project over the past few years, but now this has come to an end we feel the need to rejuvenate our connections to the wider network.We will do this by developing a Digital Project using our social media offering to connect through our ‘Together’ Facebook page and via direct contact with our member organisations to engage with advocacy projects and to help them more clearly identify their advocacy role and to extend it. In the longer-term we would want to support the important networks that this piece of work would establish.