The Advocacy Pathway

Preparing social work students for practice by involving young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities in teaching and learning

This recently published article (see below), co-authored by Gosia Kwiatkowska from Rix and Kathryn Stowell from Charlton Park Academy, describes the Advocacy Pathway for social work students at UEL and looks at how the Rix Multimedia Advocacy model benefits students with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) as well as trainee practitioners.

The Advocacy Pathway

In 2018 a new Capabilities Statement was produced by the British Association of Social Work, BASW, highlighting the need for social workers to develop robust advocacy skills based on values, ethics, personal behaviours, knowledge, skills and interventions, through critical reflection.

To support people with lived experiences, social workers need to:

  • get to know people with lived experience as individuals
  • listen and know how to communicate effectively
  • support their family and friends
  • help them lead the lives they choose
  • show respect and treat them as equal citizens

The Advocacy Pathway is a 12-week programme during which social work students are paired with a young person who has lived experience of PMLD.

The aims of the pathway are twofold: to equip social work students with a new set of skills and to empower learners with the lived experience of PMLD to build relationships and provide opportunities for them to be listened to, respected and included.

It makes you discover who you are, it helps you grow as a person and learn about people’s individualism, that people regardless of whatever challenges they might be facing, they have dreams, they have aspirations, they know who they are and what they want out of life, and I think it is just an enriching pathway where you learn to grow. (social work student, 2019)

assistant and student smiling
Charlton Park Academy

Following 20 years of research and development, Rix have established a new way of working with people with lived experience of learning disability using multimedia, called Multimedia Advocacy.

The Multimedia Advocacy approach is based on the values and principles of person-centred practice, and it supports collaboration between the person with the lived experience, their family, and education, health and social care professionals.

Multimedia Advocacy learning resources are available for free on Open Learn Works platform within our course Multimedia Advocacy: Making Plans with People with Learning Disabilities

Multimedia Advocacy learning resources

Through active listening, and observation I have learnt to realise all behaviour is also communication. (social work student, 2022)