MEET THE TEAM

Sam Jackson - Operations Manager - Since 2004

I am responsible for the day to day running of Choice Advocacy, doing supervision with the advocates and also helping to facilitate the Watchdog Group. As well as this I do Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy. (IMCA)

Background…

I have worked as a care assistant at a home for people with learning disabilities and as an education instructor in day services. I also taught philosophy and sociology at Bradford College and Bradford University. I have a teaching qualification and am a Doctor of Magical Realism.

Something positive about Choice…

I love seeing the positive difference advocacy can make to some of the most vulnerable people in society. The team at Choice Advocacy have so much passion for their work and such a wide variety of experience and expertise that it is always an interesting place to work.

Something you’ve learnt from working in advocacy…

No one can be an expert on someone else’s life – the best you can do as an advocate is to make sure that others listen to the expert – which is the person themselves.

Personal interests… 

When I’m not at work I play guitar in a band called Albion Street. I also love playing and watching football. (Sheffield Wednesday)

Patricia Higgins - Office Manager - Since 2009

As the only person on administration I have a varied role and no two days are the same. My main responsibility is looking after Choice Advocacy’s finances using the QuickBooks system but other parts of my role speaking to referrers and dealing with telephone enquiries. I try to ensure the office runs smoothly by reporting any equipment failures to relevant parties and keep on top of the stationery orders and demands of the business.

I also volunteer as a Citizen Advocate, which has been really interesting to get involved in as it gives me a better understanding of what the advocates do.

Background… 

Before coming to Choice Advocacy I worked in the retail industry and for some big companies like Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Grattan. Most of this work was finance related and involved managing budgets.

Something positive about Choice…

The nice thing about Choice is that, as a smaller organisation, you get to know the members of staff really well and you can see the hard work and commitment put in, at first hand. Everyone is more willing to help each other as you know as an organisation that you have to pull together when times are hard.

Something you’ve learnt from working in advocacy… 

It is a tough and challenging world out there and the need for advocacy is paramount.

Personal interests… 

As I have two primary age children they keep me extremely busy with their clubs and interests, on evenings and weekends. If I do get a bit of time for myself, I like to go for a walk, read and watch Bradford City play.

Karen Attwood - Advocate - Since 2006

I have been an advocate at Choice since 2006. In my current role I manage our referral, triage and prioritisation system. The triage system evolved as a way to make our service more efficient; highly detailed information at the point of referral has enabled us to prioritise more appropriately so that urgent cases are dealt with first. Alongside that, I am able to action smaller cases, which means they are not lingering on the waiting list with the danger of matters escalating into a more complex case. I am currently the staff rep, attending Board meetings and representing the views of the staff.

Background…

Before becoming an advocate I worked with young offenders, children at risk of truancy and I helped run an art therapy group for vulnerable girls. I then trained as a teacher working, over a 12 year period, with a wide range of ages and abilities as well as young people with emotional, behavioural and learning difficulties. I have also spent a number of years as a carer.

Something positive about Choice…

Although our team has changed over the years, there has always been a sense of togetherness. We support each other and share skills. Everyone is prepared to go that extra step for the people we work with.

Something you’ve learnt from working in advocacy…

There is still so much injustice in the world and as a society we have a long way to go before we can honestly say we treat people equally and with dignity.

Personal interests…

I love being in my garden, no matter what season it is. I enjoy DIY and will have a go at most things; I even like flatpacks! I am a qualified NLP practitioner as well as a basketball coach. A few years ago I taught myself to play the flute.

Mik Goodram - Advocate - Since 2006

I have been an advocate at Choice since 2006. I work alongside parents who have learning disabilities/difficulties who are in crisis; mostly where the children are involved with Children’s Social Services. I advocate in meetings, help instruct solicitors, attend court hearings and meetings about their children. I also give them information about child protection procedures and policies, and their rights. I have an additional role as a student work place supervisor.

Background…

After working as a volunteer with people with learning disability and a nursing assistant I trained as a learning disability nurse (RNLD). I then worked with people with learning disabilities in different types of places with a range of abilities and ages. My posts include manager for places for people with autism and behaviour that challenges.  I took some time out to do an applied social science degree (BA (hons)) where I learnt a lot about inequality in societies. I then did a post graduate degree in Social Work, where I had some advocacy experience. Following on from this, I gained experience working with street drug users, where I had some experience of supporting parents whose children were subject to child protection proceedings.

Along the way I have learnt Makaton, BSL up to level 2, hypnotherapy, ear acupuncture, management training of varying types, autism awareness and training, breakaway techniques, manual handling, Intensive interaction, person centred planning, training on feeding people, behavioural techniques, supervision training and training to do training as well as fundraising training.

Something positive about Choice…

I meet some great people in my work and had the privilege to be with them on some very difficult journeys. I hope that Choice in some way has helped change some people’s situations for the better. Every person and situation is different and we never stop learning from our advocacy partners.

Something you’ve learnt from working in advocacy… 

To be a good advocate you have to do more listening than talking. You need to know when to speak up on someone’s behalf and when to support them to speak up. It’s a hard balance and I am still trying to get it right.

Personal interests…

Movies, science fiction, education, walking, camping.

Helen Charlton - Advocate - Since 2007

I have been at Choice Advocacy for over 9 years working as a part time advocate with adults with learning disabilities.

Background…

Before I joined Choice I was a community worker and had worked with people with learning disabilities and physical disabilities as well as with families, children, elderly people and women. I have run a helpline and worked with survivors of sexual abuse.
Something positive about Choice… Of all the organisations I have worked for I think that my Choice colleagues are some of the nicest people I have met!

Something you’ve learnt from working in advocacy…

Patience. I have learnt that it sometimes takes a long time to make a difference, but I have seen people make big changes in their lives.

Personal interests…

I run a business as a reflexologist and complementary therapist. I am also a dowser. I have three daughters and three grandsons who I enjoy spending time with in Devon during holidays and weekends away.

Sultan Matial - Advocate - Since 2010

I have been an advocate at Choice since 2010 and also work as an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA). As a generic advocate I support adults with learning disabilities/autism to sort out problems and speak up on issues which are important to them. In my role as IMHA I support adults with learning disabilities/autism who are subject to the Mental Health Act 1983 by helping them understand their rights under the Act.

Background…

After finishing my LLB(Bachelor of Laws) in 2009, I did some voluntary work at Dewsbury Law centre’s discrimination department, and at Bradnet – a local charity in Bradford that provides support to people with learning disabilities in Bradford. While studying for my degree, for three consecutive summer holidays I helped run summer schemes for children with disabilities to provide various activities for them in the community. It was during these schemes, I developed my passion to work with vulnerable people to help them live a better and fulfilling life.

Something positive about Choice…

The nature of the work – every day is different and full of challenges! The advocates at Choice are from different backgrounds and experiences, which together makes a great team. I really enjoy working with advocacy partners to help them have a voice and be involved in decisions about their life and to sort out problems to improve their quality of life. To go through the whole process with advocacy partners from start to finish, is a very fulfilling experience.

Something you’ve learnt from working in advocacy…

Never give up, always try to look for solutions. Disability need not be an obstacle to success and a fulfilling life.

Personal interests…

 I am an ardent Newcastle United fan!

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