The National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities can help you have your voice heard

Gareth Walsh examines NAS, a free service that works with people with disabilities to help with communicating, understanding and making decisions in their lives.


What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is about you and your rights. It makes sure you are listened to.

Advocacy is about saying what you want.

Advocacy is getting help to speak up.

Advocacy helps you look at different options.


What does a NAS Advocate do?

The advocate

  • listens to you and what you have to say
  • always stands beside you and takes your side
  • keeps your information private
  • finds out information so you can make choices
  • helps you in making your own decisions
  • helps you tell people like your family, staff, social workers what you want
  • helps you prepare for meetings
  • helps you make a complaint if you are unhappy with a service or the way you are treated


How do I get help?

You can call to talk to someone at 0761 07 3000 or email to ask for an application form. You can also ask a friend, family member or staff member to call for you.



The National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS) is a free, independent and confidential service for people with disabilities. NAS is supported and funded by the Citizens Information Board. NAS is independent of health services and disability services, and has a team of advocates around the country who work directly with people with disabilities across a range of issues in their lives.


The vision of NAS is one where people with disabilities can exercise their rights, with the capacity of people with disabilities to make their own decisions equally recognised with orders, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


NAS has a particular remit to work with people with disabilities in particularly vulnerable situations, such as those living in residential settings, attending day services, those with communications differences and people with limited formal or natural supports.


As an issues-based service, NAS works with people on the basis of their need for the service, rather than on the basis of their particular disability. Therefore, people will any kind of disability may be eligible to work with an advocate, including physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, ASD, acquired brain injuries, or those who have more than one disability.


Advocates are people who work with you to understand your options and help you to make a decision. NAS advocates seek to empower people with disabilities to advocate for themselves when decisions are being made that affect them.


NAS advocates can help people with disabilities have their voices heard, and express their opinions to services, authorities, family and friends. NAS advocates can help in meetings, with writing letters and emails and by making phone-calls. NAS advocates are there to make sure that a person and their views are at the centre of the decision or process that is going to affect their life. NAS advocates are also there to assist people who are proactively making change in their life. For example, NAS advocates can assist with applications for particular services, requests for change of services, and moving accommodation etc.


People with disabilities are supported by NAS in relation to lots of issues, such as housing and residential placements, healthcare decisions, personal finances, justice issues and family/parenting/relationship issues.


NAS has approximately 50 full-time, professional staff working across the county to provide advocacy to people with disabilities. In 2018, we engaged in 3,937 pieces of advocacy and information support work, with 916 people receiving full, representative advocacy.


If you, or someone you know, would like help with an issue by working with a NAS advocate, you can call our national line at 0761 07 3000 or email us at


Find out more:




04 – Gareth Walsh – NAS_Leaflet 

Two sample case studies on working with a NAS advocate



Right to Reside in the Family Home

My name is Simon and I’m 50 years old. At the time I first got in touch with NAS I was living at home with my father, whose health was deteriorating. Plans were being put in place for my Dad to enter a nursing home. I was being encouraged by my family to move into a nursing home as they felt that I wouldn’t be capable of living on my own, and that this option would allow me to stay close to my Dad. My voice was not being heard or represented in this decision.


My advocate worked with me to have my voice heard in relation to my wishes and my preferences. My wish was to remain living in my home with supports and to visit my Dad in the nursing home regularly. The advocacy support meant my voice was heard and my wishes were taken into account, and it led to a special package of support being put in place, which involved home support workers and also support from an independent living skills team.


I have regular meetings to review this plan. It is working very well. My home support package will now decrease over time as I build up my skills and confidence in my home. My Dad passed away during the advocacy process and left me the right to reside in the family home. Despite concerns from family members, I maintain that I want to live in the family home, to continue to build up my skills and live independently in accordance with my wishes.




Parenting with a Disability

My name is Marie and I’m a young mother. I have a learning disability and my child is in full time care under a court order. My advocate supported me through a full ‘care order review’ at the District Court. The advocate supported me to have my voice heard at this review by helping me to prepare for the review hearing, accompanying me to meetings with my solicitor and supporting me in court at the review hearing.


At the review, the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) requested that the court reduce my access to my child. I did not want to agree to this reduction and I was able to communicate this. I also outlined that I would welcome any supports available to improve access visits with my child. The court ordered that access should not be reduced and asked the Child and Family Agency to develop a plan with me, with a view to improving the quality of my access to my child. The matter is to be reviewed by the court again in one year’s time.

Types of Issues NAS dealt with in 2017

Gareth Walsh is Policy, Research and Communications Officer at the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities.