The late Dr Wolf Wolfensberger, the original designer of the Citizen Advocacy model, conducted workshops on many topics. One that comes to mind seems to have even greater relevance today than when I first attended it in 1991. It was called The Liberation workshop and addressed not just the wounds of devalued (which we address in Social Role Valorisation events) but also the need for people to be liberated from the control, dependency and coercive influence of other structures, including human service structures.
Such themes are upper most when on the one hand we have a pandemic emergency, but on another level, the potential that short-term measures might become long term policies.
Many freedoms could become more threatened, such that more and more, even freely given relationships come under the control and scrutiny of third parties, some who have the laws on their side.
Of course, many citizen advocates will run up against the controlling features of human services, not only that they control the life of the protégé, but also because they attempt to control the nature, timing, amount and involvement of a citizen advocate in the life of that protégé. What we see is the formalisation of ordinary and unpaid relationships that are brought under the control of distant third parties as though they were paid and controllable. Whereas employed people may be obligated to do certain things a certain way, now unemployed, freely given relationships increasingly are being forced to follow policies.
Policies, by there very nature are not individualised. They systematise and equalise everything. So, while a rhetoric promotes individualisation and customisation, standardisation is what one confronts at every turn. One is not permitted to provide something that is unique for just this person, no exceptions can be made.
But Citizen Advocacy brings a relationship that is unique to that person. It is free at every level and therefore stands as a first significant means to liberate a person from their all-consuming bondage. Our lock-down is hopefully temporary, theirs has endured for decades.
Help us liberate people from this bondage. Please invite people to our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/926940980752988 and of course inform them of the quiet, enduring work of Citizen Advocacy.