Building evidence around advocacy for learning disabilities and autism

Published: 6 December 2023

The Henry Smith Charity launched a £2.6m Strategic Grant programme in 2022 to support 15 organisations providing advocacy services to people with learning disabilities and autistic people across the UK. 

The programme runs over three years and aims to support the advocacy sector in building an evidence base for independent and non-statutory advocacy to build a case for policy change and future sustainable funding from a range of funders, including central government, local government and foundations. 

To support these evidence building efforts, The Henry Smith Charity has provided a grant to Social Finance to work as a learning and evaluation partner with the grantees in the programme. We are working in partnership with Speakup, a lived experience partner.

This interim report sets out the findings from this summer’s intensive phase of research. It sheds new light on how non-statutory advocacy works with people to ensure their voices are heard across a broad range of issues impacting their lives.

Along with this interim report, there is also an Easyread version:

Theory of change

Based on our research findings from summer 2023, we have put together a theory of change for advocacy services being funded by The Henry Smith Charity programme.

The diagram links key inputs’ (e.g. financial and technical) to support activities’ which translate into short-term and long-term outcomes for people using services as well as the grantee organisations themselves. Potential barriers and facilitators are also noted in the bottom left corner.

We hope this theory of change will be a useful tool in articulating the value of advocacy services and how they seek to achieve their desired impact. We remain open to iterating it with grantees and people using services.

Stay up to date

Sign up to our mailing list for regular updates.

We'll keep your data secure and won't share it outside of Social Finance, ever. For more details read our privacy policy.