Herefordshire and Worcestershire Citizen Advocacy began in 1985, to start with providing one to one advocacy support for people with learning disabilities moving from long stay hospitals into the community, to ensure that their voice was heard and that they were fully involved in decisions being made about their lives.
The project split into smaller organisations in the early 1990s and as Wyre Forest Citizen Advocacy we gained charitable status.
Also in the early 1990s Kidderminster First Group was started – a self advocacy group for people with learning disabilities and in 1995 this group became Kidderminster Voices for Independence.
In 1998 we received funding to develop a Self Advocacy project and more new self advocacy groups were started.
The one to one advocacy support became generic and available to any vulnerable person needing support to make their voice heard.
Crisis advocacy was provided by a team of paid advocacy workers and long term advocacy by volunteer citizen advocates.
In 2007 the one to one advocacy work was put out to tender by Worcestershire County Council and Onside Advocacy won the tender.
In 2008 we changed our name to Our Way Self Advocacy. In response to requests from self advocacy group members we obtained funding to start our housing project which finds vulnerable people accommodation and through our matching process, house/flat mates if they want to share with.
Again in response to requests, in 2008 we secured Children in Need funding for self advocacy groups for young people with learning disabilities.
We aim to enable and promote the confidence and knowledge of young people so that they can develop their own advocacy skills.
In 2009 we started our Stars in the Sky friendship and dating agency which currently has over 160 members. We also run relationships training courses.