Our response to COVID-19

Find out why advocacy service referrals are more important than ever here.

A message for our clients, partners and stakeholders from Chief Executive Officer, Vikki Holloway

Update 16 September 2020:

Upholding rights & valuing voices: Advocacy principles for coronavirus and beyond 

Similar to other health, social care, and voluntary services, in March 2020, almost overnight, the way independent advocacy support was delivered had to shift dramatically. The coronavirus pandemic required an urgent and immediate response which, at the time had meant changing the sector’s usual and preferred approach to supporting people. It also shone a light on and exacerbated inequalities. There has been avoidable loss of life and many people have experienced dreadful conditions. Now, as we move forward in our ‘new normal’, effective advocacy is ever more important as a tool to make sure that people’s voices are heard, inequality is addressed, and rights are respected.

From the start of national lockdown, a group of advocacy organisations from across England and Wales came together and have been meeting regularly to support each other and lead the sector through the crisis.

We knew from our own experiences of delivering advocacy that people who use health and social care services were being specifically disadvantaged by the restrictions we all faced.

This led to the National Advocates Survey and the collection of data to enable us to evidence how people and advocacy services were being impacted and responding.

Subsequently, these Advocacy Principles have been developed by advocacy providers, for advocacy providers. They take into account what we learned from the advocacy survey and our experiences of recent months. They are designed to shape our collective responses and make sure that no-one who needs our support is left out, that people’s rights are respected, and nobody goes unheard. They reaffirm our commitments to:

  • upholding people’s rights and amplifying people’s voices
  • communicating effectively
  • equality and positive anti-discriminatory action
  • accessibility
  • promoting systemic change

This a consensus statement of principles that reflects our current understanding. We will build on and adapt these principles as our understanding changes.

PDF download: Upholding rights & valuing voices – Advocacy principles for coronavirus and beyond

If you would like your organisation to endorse these principles, then please contact

Update: 3 June 2020

With the ongoing situation in the country regarding COVID-19, organisations are evolving so that business continues and services are delivered to all of those who need them. There is no doubt that the impact of COVID-19 is causing organisations to work creatively in how services are delivered; what it is important to know, is that services are being delivered and the legal duty to refer people for advocacy has not changed.

Advocates are keyworkers and we are taking a pragmatic approach; we are delivering advocacy through a variety of digital means and if necessary and safe, through face to face meetings. The protection of staff, clients and partners remains a priority for us and we continue with a risk-assessed approach to activities, to ensure our work is delivered in the safest way possible.

The Senior Management Team at SWAN ‘meet’ frequently to review our approach to service delivery and our ongoing response to the ever-changing situation. We make adjustments whenever we need to and in light of the uncertainty that we all face, we are proactive in thinking about how we might deliver services in the future to ensure continuity and consistency.

I recognise that this is one of the most challenging situations that we, as individuals, have encountered for many years. Living in a state of lockdown, being isolated and fearful for a variety of reasons that extend far beyond Coronavirus, is devastating to our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Now, possibly more than ever, advocacy is needed.

As an organisation we are in frequent communication with our Commissioners with the aim of providing services as seamlessly as possible. Our telephone lines are open Monday – Friday 9am- 5pm; you can also contact us by email or via our contact form.  Our service approach may be a different, but we are still very much here.


Update: 15 April 2020

The landscape has changed considerably over the last couple of weeks and we are all working to ensure that we manage the impact that Coronavirus has in our lives. Initially we may have believed that time spent in lockdown would be over quickly, but events are showing us that this is not the case and we are all having to get used to living and working in a new state of normal.  This presents challenges for individuals and businesses alike, and we aim to be as proactive as possible so that we can respond flexibly to the ever-changing environment, therefore:

  • We continue to develop creative ways of working and are doing all we can, to ensure that whilst face to face meetings are restricted, we can still deliver services.
  • We are following government guidance at all times by continuing to employ social distancing and working from home; this is to protect our staff, clients and partners and to support keyworkers, particularly those involved in healthcare, who are delivering front line services.
  • We are in regular contact with our Commissioners and are communicating with Local Authority’s regarding the implementation of the Coronavirus Act as this has an impact on how they meet their duties and how we, as an Advocacy provider, respond to that.

With extended social isolation measures in place, we recognise the impact this has on many people. As Chief Executive of SWAN, I want all to know that at this deeply challenging time, we are open for ‘business as usual’ to provide the vital support that people need.  Please get in touch with us and if you call, please leave a message, even if it is just a name and number; we will get back to you.


23 March 2020

Hello, I’m Vikki, I’m the CEO of SWAN.

We are all responding to the current COVID-19 threat, which is having a dramatic impact on individuals and businesses. Despite these challenges we are committed to supporting our clients and working with our partners in the most safe, positive and productive way possible.

We are working differently in a way that is consistent with government advice, to ensure the safety of our workforce, partners and all those we provide services to. We recognise that more and more people are being affected by the impact of social isolation and we have issued operational guidance to the workforce and developed alternative methods of delivery. Alongside this we have implemented homeworking for the majority of the workforce and operate a strictly risk-assessed approach to service delivery. We will continue to be flexible and proactive, with the needs of all our stakeholders fixed firmly in our minds.

The senior management team forms our Business Continuity Group and we have implemented our Business Continuity Plan. This is reviewed frequently to ensure as far as possible that we can continue to deliver our services. We are in regular contact with our commissioners and funders to ensure that everyone is up to date in this rapidly changing environment.

Please follow the guidance and stay safe at this difficult time. There are a variety of sources of guidance and I urge everyone to make themselves familiar with them:

Resources (will be updated regularly)

Easy Read information on COVID-19 (produced by Mencap)

Advocacy & Your Rights – Easy Read information about advocacy and rights during the coronavirus crisis (produced by NDTi)