Funding crisis strikes Oban advocacy service

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Lack of funding has hit an innovative advocacy project transforming hundreds of lives in Oban and across Argyll.

Since 2017, 376 people over the age of 16 struggling to lead independent lives because of long-term conditions such as heart disease, multiple sclerosis or arthritis have been able to get  help from the project run by Lomond & Argyll Advocacy Service (LAAS).

LAAS managed to secure funding in October 2016 through the Scottish Health & Social Care ALLIANCE’s Transforming Self-Management Scotland Fund. But that funding has now run out and left those behind the pilot scheme ‘deeply disappointed’.

Although continued funding from the local authority and the NHS means the service will be able to keep up its work with people with mental illness or a learning disability, who have a statutory right to get independent advocacy, many others who do not come under that category will go without.

Scott Rorison who is LAAS’s advocacy manager said that despite the project being tried and tested it has failed to get more funding from Argyll & Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) or any other state source or charities.

He added that  the project had made a positive impact on many people’s lives and for some had been ‘truly transformational’.

Feedback from its users showed 92 per cent of them had found it helpful and 82 per cent felt better listened to.

Mr Rorison said LAAS believed the project demonstrated how early interventions and a person-centred approach could avoid the need for more expensive interventions when a crisis develops.

He continued: ‘We are deeply disappointed that, despite evidence of its impact and effectiveness, we have been unable in the current financial climate, to secure funding from the Argyll & Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) or other statutory or non-statutory source to continue the project in its current form.

‘As a consequence many people in Argyll &  Bute living with a long-term condition will be unable to access independent advocacy to promote better self-management at an early stage, which in many cases may prove a false economy.

‘In the meantime LAAS continues to provide access to independent advocacy for adults with a learning disability, adults with a mental illness and older people,’ he said.