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 an experienced money advice and welfare benefits adviser and trainer. She currently works at the Money Advice Unit at Hertfordshire County Council, and as a freelance trainer.
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.
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 for many years and has over 30 years’ experience working as a professional adviser and manager within the CAB service. His current clients include CPAG, CAB outlets, Youth Access, DIAL, several Housing Associations, Local Authorities and solicitors practices.
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.
Essie Rashidschi has 20 years’ experience as an advice worker, particularly in the field of welfare benefits and social security law. He currently works as a freelance welfare rights tutor, having previously worked for Lasa as part of their appeals team.
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 Simmons is a welfare rights worker at CPAG. He has more than 20 years’ experience of providing welfare rights advice and training and has written extensively for CPAG and other publications.
Mike Spencer is a solicitor and is the Legal Officer for the Child Poverty Action Group. He represents CPAG and its clients in test cases on social security and related issues aimed at promoting the rights and incomes of families with children. Prior to joining CPAG, Mike was a solicitor for the Asylum Support Appeals Project, where he represented homeless and destitute asylum seekers.
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.