Advocacy and self-advocacy

Group of young people with learning disabilities holding a sign saying 'get your voice heard'

Young people with special educational needs and disabilities can sometimes feel ignored, or that their views aren’t taken seriously.


Here at AFK, we want to help young people feel confident in telling others what they want and need. Our advocacy project is designed to help young people make their voices heard.

What is advocacy?

ⓘ Advocacy means helping people say what matters to them and helping them access the services or support they need. Advocacy helps people make changes and have more choice and control in their lives.


ⓘ An advocate is someone who is on your side and can tell others what you want when you feel unable to speak up for yourself. Advocates can also help you write letters or speak to someone on the telephone.


Advocacy can help you:

  • Tell others what you want
  • Find out information about services that can help you
  • Have a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities
Young woman and young man at a conference table in a meeting
A woman showing a girl with learning disabilities a poster on a table

What is self-advocacy?

ⓘ Self-advocacy is when you speak up for your own interests, needs and choices.


You might feel that no one listens to you, or that your opinions don’t matter to some of the adults in your life. Your opinions do matter!


Learning to speak up for yourself is an important skill which most people take for granted – but sometimes it can be scary asking or telling other people what you want or need.


At AFK we can help you self-advocate by giving you the confidence to speak up at home, at college, at work, or anywhere where your opinion should matter.

Young woman with learning disabilities holding a sign with different words showing what advocacy means

Advocacy and co-production

ⓘ Co-production is a way of working together so that people share power and make decisions on an equal basis.


Co-production supports advocacy by valuing people’s contributions and involving them in designing and delivering the support they want – not just what professionals think they need!


At AFK, we believe strongly in both advocacy and co-production. This means we make sure young people are part of the decision-making process whenever we are thinking about how we can improve our services.

Advocacy and self-advocacy at AFK

As young people develop and increasingly form their own views, they should be more involved in making decisions about their future.


We want to make sure that everyone who comes to AFK has the support they need to speak up about their interests and needs, and to challenge anything they think is wrong.


We want everyone at AFK to:

  • Feel respected and listened to
  • Know that they have a choice about what they learn and how they learn
  • Know where to go for additional support if needed
Four young people people with learning disabilities hold adn point to a sign saying "join our council"

AFK Youth Council

Trainees can join the  AFK Youth Council to share their views with our Senior Management Team and other young people at AFK.


To help increase their confidence in speaking up for themselves and others, members of the Youth Council can also:

  • Attend a leadership course
  • Work with other advocacy groups
  • Develop media campaigns


In 2019, the AFK Youth Council led a campaign in the local community to raise awareness of disability hate crime. Their actions led to great discussions with local businesses about how we can make our community more friendly to disabled people.

Four young people with learning disabilities, one holding a sign saying "no to disability hate crime"

Advocacy success stories

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On a Monday evening, 40 guests gathered at Les 2 Garçons for a sumptuous four-course meal, all in the name of raising vital funds.

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To celebrate Learning Disability Week, we’re at I AM Festival – a yearly celebration empowering D/deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent young people to explore their creativity.

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A guest blog from Esi Hardy of Celebrating Disability, shared with permission from her series Disability Inclusion Bites.

my AFK backs new national campaign ‘#PlayForAll’

We have joined a national campaign aiming to raise awareness of the lack of accessibility across the country for young disabled children in public spaces.

my AFK welcomes the House of Commons Education Committee’s new SEND report, released today.

Today, The Education Committee published its First Report of Session 2019-20, on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND report)

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Working With Disability Week 2019

Highlights from our first Working With Disability Week and our Urban Residential, which took place 15-19 July 2019.

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my AFK trainees give evidence on SEND at the House of Commons

Two my AFK trainees presented evidence to the Education Committee’s SEND Inquiry about their experience of support for SEND learners leaving school.

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Feedback Friday – Urban AFK Residential

Feedback Friday is all about empowering young people to have their say about our services. This is how our young people reimagined the Urban Residential.

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What is co-production?

Co-production is a way of working together so that professionals and people share power and make decisions on an equal basis.

Pernell is the my AFK Youth Council Chair

AFK Youth Council Chair Announced

Meet Pernell, 20, who is the new chair of my AFK’s Youth Council.

What is advocacy?

What is Advocacy?

Advocacy helps empower young people with special educational needs and disabilities to speak up for themselves and take control of their lives.

Feedback Friday Image Collage

Feedback Friday – Advocacy in Action

Feedback Friday is all about empowering young people to have their say and to help AFK understand what each individual really wants from their short break

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Jimmy says “Never judge a book by it’s cover”

This month, Jimmy, a business analyst at Lloyds Bank, gave a motivational speech to our students about getting a job you love.

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