Our Trainers | CPAG

Our 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 30 years’ experience in money advice, having worked for Citizens Advice, National Debtline, a bank and a mortgage lender. Jeff is now a successful freelance trainer and consultant in money, debt and benefits advice to the not for profit sector and credit industry.

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.

Barbara Donegan is a welfare rights worker at CPAG in Scotland and an author of the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.

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.

Alison Gillies is a welfare rights worker at CPAG in Scotland. She is author of CPAG’s Children’s Handbook Scotland. She has worked in welfare rights since 1985.

Jen Gracie is a Policy and Parliamentary Officer with CPAG in Scotland, drawing on our Early Warning System and social security expertise to identify policy issues and inform policy makers and politicians.

Will Hadwen is a freelance adviser and trainer working for Citizens Advice, Advice UK and the Benefits Training Company. Will also works on the CPAG in Scotland advice line and on CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.

Paula John is a qualified social worker and mental health officer who has worked in social work for 29 years, the last 19 of which have been in a variety of mental health settings. She currently works for the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.

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.

David Kelly is a welfare rights officer in a community-based housing association. He previously worked as a welfare rights worker with CPAG and in a local authority.

Henri Krishna is a welfare rights worker with CPAG in Scotland’s Advising Black and Minority Ethnic Communities project. He is an author of the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook and has worked in the advice and support sector in various capacities for over 20 years.

Alison Lord is a welfare rights worker at CPAG in Scotland, working on the advisers’ advice line. She has been working in the advice sector since 1996, specialising in benefits for people with disabilities.

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.

Campbell McCrea has 25 years’ experience in welfare rights advice, representation and training, working in local government, for Citizens Advice including as Lead Officer for Welfare Benefit Advice in Northumberland and for Momentum Scotland, specialising in head injuries and neurological conditions.

Kirsty McKechnie is a welfare rights worker with CPAG in Scotland’s Early Warning System, gathering and analysing evidence of the impacts of welfare reform on children and their families.

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.

Judith Paterson is head of advice and rights at CPAG in Scotland. She is an author of the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.

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.

Ed Pybus is a welfare rights worker with CPAG in Scotland and was previously an adviser with Citizens Advice Bureaux.

Jon Shaw is a welfare rights worker at CPAG in Scotland, and an author of the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook. He has worked in welfare rights since 2007.

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 man

Jane Smith has worked in welfare rights for over 20 years, in Derbyshire, the west of Scotland and currently for Angus Council. She has extensive experience of training, campaigning and appeals.

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.

Jim Thompson has been a welfare rights worker for 25 years and has wide experience of claims, appeals and training. He is currently a housing association welfare rights officer.

Angela Toal is a welfare rights worker with CPAG in Scotland, working on the Benefits for Students project, and is author of CPAG’s Benefits for Students in Scotland Handbook. She was previously advice team manager at The Action Group in Edinburgh.

Gary Vaux has been involved in welfare rights work for many years and is currently head of an advice service in a large County Council. Gary is also a freelance author, trainer, policy adviser and trustee of a number of voluntary advice services.

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.

Mark Willis has worked in welfare rights since 1991 and is currently a welfare rights worker with CPAG in Scotland’s tax credits/early years project. He is an author of the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.