Advocacy Centre North has extensive experience of providing advocacy services for people who have a legal right to an advocate. We currently provide this on a case by case individual contract basis.

Independent Mental Health Advocacy

Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHA) are specially for people subject to the Mental Health Act.  This means most patients who are detained or 'sectioned' under the Act, as well as people on supervised community treatment or on guardianship, or their treatment is subject to certain special rules. 

IMHAs can:

  • get information about how the Mental Health Act applies to patients
  • get information about their treatment
  • help patients understand information they are given by people involved in their care and treatment and help them to talk to these people

Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy

Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCA) provide statutory advocacy to help people who lack capacity, and do not have friends or relatives to support them, to make important decisions about their care. A local council or NHS body has a duty to involve an IMCA when a vulnerable person who lacks capacity needs to make a decision about:

  • a long-term care move
  • serious medical treatment
  • adult protection procedures
  • a care review

Many factors can affect a person's capacity such as:

  • acquired brain injury
  • learning disability
  • mental illness
  • dementia
  • effects of alcohol or drug misuse
  • other illness, trauma or other factors

The IMCA will help support the person to make the decision, will represent their views and should act in the person's best interests. 

Relevant Person’s Representative (RPR)

Paid RPRs ensure that the rights of people deprived of their liberty under the Mental Capacity Act are protected. They are appointed by the local authority Safeguarding Team.

Independent Care Act Advocacy (ICAA)

The Care Act 2014 introduced new duties to involve independent advocates in supporting people’s involvement in care and support assessment, planning and review and safeguarding processes. Since this duty came into force in April 2015, local authorities must have mechanisms in place to allow for people to have access to independent advocates in appropriate circumstances.

The right to an independent advocate applies to all adults, as part of their own assessment and care planning and care reviews, as well as to those in their role as carers. It also applies to children who are approaching the transition to adult care and support, when a child’s needs assessment is carried out, and when a young carer’s assessment is undertaken.

Local authorities must arrange an independent advocate to facilitate the involvement of a person in their assessment, in the preparation of their care and support plan and in the review of their care plan, if two conditions are met. The aim is to provide assistance:

  • firstly to people who have ‘substantial difficulty’ in being fully involved in these processes and
  • secondly where there is no one appropriate available to support and represent the person’s wishes.

The role of the independent advocate is to support and represent the person, and to facilitate their involvement in the key processes and interactions with the local authority.

Statutory advocacy services for people in Gateshead

Advocacy Centre North currently provides the following statutory advocacy services for people in the Gateshead Council area:

  • Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
  • Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)
  • Independent Care Act Advocacy (ICAA)
  • Relevant Person’s Representative (RPR)

To refer to these services please download our Statutory Advocacy Referral Form and email it to us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To find out more information please view our Guidance for Referrers. Pease ring us on 0191 235 7013 if you would like to discuss making a referral.

To check your local provider, contact the Mental Health Act Office and Safeguarding Team within your local authority.