TRAFFORD Centre for Independent Living has become the first organisation in the borough to bag a prized quality award.

It has gained the Advocacy Quality Performance Mark (QPM) from the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi).

The QPM is the UK’s only independent quality performance mark for organisations offering independent advocacy - an essential service for people who need support to express their needs and have increased choice and control in their lives.

To gain the QPM, independent advocacy providers have to undergo a rigorous self-assessment process and policy review.

This is followed by a structured site visit for NDTi assessors to meet advocates and the people they support. As well it being good practice for local authorities to provide advocacy to people at risk of exclusion, commissioners are required by law to provide statutory independent advocacy.

Judy Sutherland, advocacy service manager from Trafford CIL said: “It’s a recognition of the fact that you are working to a really good standard and we had clients who were prepared to speak to the assessor and tell her about their experiences and how we work with them. We felt validated that we were doing something good for people in Trafford.”

Gail Petty, QPM manager and lead for advocacy and rights at NDTi said: “The Advocacy Quality Performance Mark is only awarded to advocacy organisations who can demonstrate that they are providing excellent services to people often experiencing challenging situations in their lives.

"It indicates that they have the training and policies in place to ensure people’s rights are upheld and their preferences are heard and responded to.”

Originally developed by Action for Advocacy (A4A), the Department of Health funded NDTi to review and revise the QPM in 2014, working with providers, users and commissioners of advocacy services.

The application process was streamlined to be as straightforward as possible, while retaining the rigour required to ensure that high standards are met.