Meet the Team

Advocacy Team

We have a committed and very talented team of over 30 advocates, who work throughout Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole. Their role is to be on the side of the person they are supporting, representing their interests and making sure that their rights are respected. It can be complex and technical work, always with a meaningful and respectful relationship at its’ heart. No two advocacy relationships are ever the same. Our advocacy team has an exceptional working knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act, Deprivation of Liberty safeguards, the Care Act and much more. All of our advocates are either working towards, or have achieved, the IAQ qualification in independent advocacy.


We have a range of people who have responsibility for:

  • Operations
  • Finance
  • Administration and HR
  • Development

Frances Stevens (Chair)

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Frances retired from the NHS following a long career as a senior manager. Frances has extensive experience of operational management and commissioning (including joint commissioning) in a range of areas, including the acute sector, primary care, community services, mental health, learning disabilities and offender health.

In her commissioning roles, Frances took an innovative approach to service design, recognising the importance of true participation and co-production with people who would be users of those services.  Frances’ key skills include working with others to develop effective partnerships to deliver change. Her main interest is in working with disadvantaged groups and reducing inequalities through ensuring services are person-centred and meet the needs of individuals, rather than forcing people to fit into traditional service models.  Frances’ role as Chair of Trustees with Dorset Advocacy is an ideal way to put into effect her commitment to ensuring people get the care and support they are entitled to.

Laurie Scott (Treasurer)

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Laurie has a background in finance and in NHS operational management. Laurie worked in banking and finance for 26 years, the last ten years of which were spent in Corporate Banking. His interest has always been in presenting and producing financial information in an easily understandable way.

After leaving banking in 2003, Laurie was a Senior Operational Manager in the NHS working in hospitals in across Dorset and Berkshire. He has experience of managing large teams and large budgets and has always believed that service quality is an integral part of financial management.

Laurie retired in 2018 and his involvement in Dorset Advocacy allows him to continue his interest in supporting social inclusion, equality and justice.

Sally Shead (Trustee)

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Sally trained as a nurse in the early 1980s and has had a long and varied career within the NHS, from which she retired in 2018. She worked clinically for many years, predominantly as a District Nurse, in London, Essex and Dorset. She then moved on to operationally managing teams and services and then her career took her into commissioning of services, with a particular focus on quality assurance and quality improvement. Her last role within the NHS was as a director of nursing and quality. Sally is a registered nurse and holds an MBA qualification. She also has experience of working as a volunteer as a bereavement counsellor. 

Sally has always been passionate about enabling all people to access the high quality health and social care to which they are entitled, and is keen to support Dorset Advocacy’s role in this through her position as a trustee.

Chris Kippax (Trustee)

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Chris is a relative new-comer to the Dorset Advocacy Board of Trustees, having taken voluntary redundancy from a management post at Dorset County Council. In his last role there he was responsible for the Safeguarding Adults Service. Prior to that he held a range of operational and strategic management posts including responsibility for learning disability services. As a service commissioner he was familiar with some of the work undertaken by Dorset Advocacy and says “I have been delighted and surprised to see how the organisation has grown and developed over many years, and deeply impressed by the commitment and concern of the organisation to deliver effective and person centred services.”

Mark Tattersall (Trustee)

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Mark has had a long career in the arts, much of it in the charitable sector. He started out as a musician and then spent 14 years in the music industry, latterly as Vice President of the SINE division of Sony Music Europe. In 2000 he moved into the visual arts and in 2007 curated the Gibson Guitartown project, culminating in a fundraising auction that raised in excess of £200,000. In 2008 he joined the Art Academy in London where he was Chief Executive until 2012 and Chair of Trustees until 2019. In 2012 he moved to Dorset to take up his current post as Artistic Director of Dorchester Arts. Previous trusteeships include the Red Hot AIDS Charitable Trust, The Art House and Dorset Visual Arts. Having had personal experience of the value of support from Dorset Advocacy, he was delighted to accept their invitation to become a trustee in 2021.

Mike Pochin (CEO)

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Mike Pochin has been working for Dorset Advocacy since it started operations in 1993, and before being appointed CEO was our Operations Director.

He says:

I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead Dorset Advocacy through the next stage of its development. The idea behind advocacy is so simple but so strong – one person listening to and supporting another, to help them to sort out problems and have more control over their life. This is the idea that has seen Dorset Advocacy develop over the past 23 years from a tiny organisation supporting just a few dozen people, to an employer of 40 staff and 60 volunteers, which now helps around 4000 people every year.

Mike is working with the Leadership Team to ensure that Dorset Advocacy continues to be a centre of innovation, influence and excellence well beyond the organisation’s 25th anniversary in 2018.  This means managing unprecedented levels of demand on our existing services, whilst working with communities and partner agencies to deliver new forms of advocacy that respond to need in ever more cost effective ways.  Raising funds from new sources will be a key part of our strategy.


Clare Tarling: Development Manager

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Clare Tarling joined the Leadership Team in November 2015. Her responsibilities as Business Development Manager include fundraising, business strategy, website development, social media (here is our Facebook page) and marketing. Clare’s background is in funding and delivering Learning Disability-specific projects; Dorset Forum, Total Communication, Easy Read information, Quality Checking, improvised music (Lifemusic) and developing self-advocacy with people who have Learning Disabilities in Dorset.

Clare has a keen interest in not-for-profit organisations generally, their strategy and governance, and how they can be best used to deliver great projects which benefit the most vulnerable people in our society. Clare holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management from the Open University and is on track to achieve her MBA in November 2019.  Clare’s ambitions are to support Dorset Advocacy to be:

  • Strong and sustainable for many years ahead
  • Very responsive to the needs of people in Dorset
  • A vibrant, thriving and well-known charity that local people are confident about turning to for help.

In her spare time Clare plays the violin, and enjoys running, swimming and generally messing about with her 2 children.

Sheryl Seeley

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Advocacy Project Manager

Prior to joining Dorset Advocacy in 2004, Sheryl worked as a volunteer advocate supporting parents with Learning Disabilities who were going through child custody processes.

Sheryl was one of our first IMCAs, and now manages a team of 9 professional, highly skilled and knowledgeable advocates. Sheryl’s aim is to support the project and its’ staff to continue to grow and continue to be a leading example within this field.

My high sense of injustice and belief that everyone should be treated the same led me into volunteering and this continues to be at the heart of all that I do.

Sheryl was also part of the initial development of Continuing Healthcare (CHC) Advocacy in Dorset and now manages this project. The staff team of 3 all have specialist knowledge of CHC, as well as the personal skills which enable them to support people during emotional and distressing situations.

When I am not working I continue to actively support my children even though they are all grown up now. I also enjoy travelling and meeting up with friends. Mostly in my free time I like to indulge in my passion for drawing and painting.