Helping others

MORE help is on the way to support people in having a voice in everyday matters as further training is being offered in advocacy.

The Hartlepool-based Generic Advocacy Training and Consultation Service Community Interest Company (GATACS CIC), is offering a new training course so that people can get skills in helping others to secure rights.

Being an advocate means they can speak up on behalf of other people to secure rights, meet needs and support people in making informed choices, whether it is a legal issue, benefits advice or any other issue involving authority.

The course, Introduction to Advocacy and Advocacy Skills Level 1, 2,and 3, is accredited by the Open College Network North East Region (OCNNER) and funded by the Santander Foundation and available for up to six people.

The course will run from the Epilepsy Outlook office in York Road, from 9am on January 21.

It comes after the Mail reported in October that Mary Diver, who runs GATACS (CIC), secured funding to train six people in advocacy and those would be offering their services for free to people in the Stranton area.

This service will start at the end of January in the Stranton Centre, in Southburn Terrace, and run on Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings.

It will be open to all who need support.

Mary, who lives in the Stranton area and has been an advocate for 14 years, said: “Advocacy is about making sure a person’s voice is heard, making sure a person’s needs are met and they get the service they want and need and making sure a person knows their rights and has the information to make informed choices and get the benefits and services they are entitled to.”

She added: “The learners who completed the last course did extremely well and they agreed to work as volunteers offering a generic advocacy service in the Stranton centre.”

For more information about securing the help of an advocate or about the new course, visit or email