Trainers

CPAG's experience in the welfare rights field is unrivalled and this is reflected in the quality of our trainers. All are working within the sector, some for CPAG and others as senior advisers and consultants. Many of them contribute regularly to leading publications and information resources for the sector, including our own highly regarded range of handbooks.

Barbara Alexander is a welfare benefits adviser and trainer with over 20 years’ experience. She currently works at the Money Advice Unit of Hertfordshire County Council, and as a freelance trainer and adviser for a number of organisations including Refuge, Shelter and Gingerbread. She has been training for CPAG for nearly 10 years.

Sarah Batty has 18 years’ experience in the Welfare Rights field covering advice, training, tribunal representation and policy. Sarah has worked in local authorities and third sector advice providers, and currently works in Social Housing in the North East.

Jeff Brown has over 25 years’ experience in the field of money advice, having worked for a Citizens Advice Bureau, National Debtline, a bank and a mortgage lender. Jeff is now a successful freelance trainer and consultant in debt advice/benefits advice to the not-for-profit sector and credit industry. He is a regular trainer for the Council of Mortgage Lenders and has delivered in-house training to over a dozen mortgage lenders. Jeff is also an approved tutor for the Money Advice Trust and the Institute of Money Advisers at both caseworker and specialist levels.

Catherine Connors has worked as a local authority welfare rights officer for 16 years. Catherine has considerable experience of delivering welfare rights training to a variety of audiences, including social work students, primary care trust staff, housing providers, Women’s Aid and CAB advisers. Catherine has also designed and delivered a range of training materials for a financial capability project.

Clara Donnelly is an experienced welfare rights adviser and trainer.  She started working in advice for a CAB in Glasgow in 1992 and currently works for Brighton and Hove City Council as a Welfare Rights Officer.

Will Hadwen is a rights adviser for the charity Working Families, supporting carers and parents with benefits and employment issues. As a freelancer, Will also works on the CPAG Scotland advice line and for other charities including Advice UK and Gingerbread.

Steve Johnson has been a welfare benefits trainer and advocate for many years and has over 30 years’ experience working as a professional adviser and manager within the Citizens Advice service. His current clients include CPAG, Citizens Advice outlets, local authority welfare rights and housing advisors, charities from the benevolent sector, housing associations, as well as solicitor pro bono units etc.

Richard Machin is a senior lecturer in Social Work and Health at Nottingham Trent University specialising in social policy. He previously worked for over 10 years as a caseworker and manager for a local authority welfare rights and money advice service. Richard regularly writes and blogs on poverty and social security related matters.

Tom Messere is a freelance trainer and writer - author of the Big Book of Benefits and Mental Health and regular "Welfare Writes" columnist in Mental Health Today. He came into welfare rights just as the 1988 great reforms introduced Income Support as the way to simplify and reform the system; he has been training and demistifying the benefits system ever since. He has worked in both the voluntary (CAB, housing associations, cancer charities) and statutory (welfare rights/social inclusion units) sectors.

Dan Norris is a welfare rights worker at CPAG. He has delivered welfare rights advice, representation and training for 14 years, with a number of organisations including St Mungo's Broadway, SHP and Thamesreach.

Simon Osborne is a welfare rights worker at CPAG. He is a content consultant and author of the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook, editor of and contributor to the Welfare Rights Bulletin, author of Winning Your Benefit Appeal and contributor to Legal Action magazine.

Andy Poole has been a welfare rights worker and trainer for 35 years. He has worked as a welfare benefits adviser, tribunal representative and trainer for Birmingham CAB, Birmingham Tribunal Unit and currently as a Welfare Rights Officer for Wolverhampton City Council. Andy is also a free-lance trainer and has delivered a wide range of social security courses to organisations across the country including the Multiple Sclerosis.Society, St Basil's and CABx.

Jo Silcox has over 25 years’ experience in welfare rights. She currently works at Harrow Law Centre and for the Money Advice unit of Hertfordshire County Council. Jo has many years’ experience of complex case work, representation at tribunals and training. In addition, she is a freelance trainer in welfare benefits and she was the Social Security Caseworker at FRU for 7 years.

David Stickland is an experienced trainer who has been an advice worker since 1998. He continues to give frontline benefits advice on behalf of the disability charity Scope and acts as a consultant/trainer for several large housing associations and disability organisations.

Rebecca Walker has worked in welfare rights since 1993 and is currently a freelance trainer and writer. She is an author of the current edition of the Benefits for Migrants Handbook and contributor to the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook and the Disability Rights Handbook.

Martin Williams is a welfare rights worker at CPAG. He is widely experienced in representing claimants at both levels within the tribunal system, having worked in the appeals team at Lasa from 2001 until 2008. Martin has also worked as a local authority welfare rights officer and in an independent advice centre. He is currently an author of CPAG’s Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit: the legislation.