As an Advocacy Accompanier, I probably have one of the strangest named, but most interesting jobs in CAFOD. I support CAFOD’s partners to do advocacy on issues like children’s rights, economic justice, land grabs, extra-judicial killings and climate change and in the last year I’ve worked in six different countries. But how can you be an expert on so many different places and issues, my friends often ask me? The short answer is that I’m not. And nor do I need to be. The local organisations on the ground have a wealth of knowledge gained from the work that they do every day that is different from mine. My role is to support them think through the how of advocacy and together we grapple with questions such as: How can you make sure that your land grabs report lands you in the Minister’s office and not in jail? How can make the public buzz about budgets? Why would a sceptical politician choose to attend Stakeholder Dialogue meeting at your community centre and not steak barbecue lunch at the 5* hotel corporate lobbying fest ? I ask these questions because effective advocacy always requires a strategy: it’s not enough to be passionate about a cause, to publish a lengthy report or spend your time convincing those who already agree with you.
The kind of support I give varies: workshop facilitator, mentor, critical friend, sounding board, or researcher – everyone has different needs so there is no one size fits all approach to this job! Perhaps it would be a lot less work and cheaper to run a generic advocacy course in order to disseminate a CAFOD approach to advocacy. However, I suspect that this would be ineffective, out of touch with local reality and risky in the long-run.
So, why this word accompaniment in my job title? (more…)