Our Trustees

Our trustees are central to Dorset Advocacy and our work. Their main responsibilities are to oversee our finances, make sure we work within the law and towards our objectives, to supervise our CEO and to plan for the future. This is not a small task! We very much value their considerable experience and expertise.

Frances Stevens (Chair)

Frances has recently 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 vulnerable 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 a Trustee with Dorset Advocacy is an ideal way to put into effect her commitment to vulnerable people.

Sue Oliver (Trustee)


Sue is a qualified and experienced HR professional and has recently joined Dorset Advocacy as a Trustee.

Sue is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) with over 25 years operational and strategic HR experience, predominantly in NHS organisations at local, regional and national level, but also in the private sector. Sue has a track record of developing and implementing innovative workforce strategies to achieve organisational goals. She also has significant experience in providing HR leadership and support to a wide range of change programmes, including the NHS national transition programme, as well as others associated with mergers and acquisitions. Sue currently works for an NHS organisation in Somerset supporting the development of new models of care across primary and acute services and has recently attained the ILM Executive Coaching and Mentoring qualification. Sue is delighted to have joined Dorset Advocacy at this exciting stage in the organisation’s development.

Barbara O’Brien (Trustee)

Barbara recently joined the Dorset Advocacy Board of Trustees having retired from her role as a Senior Manager in the Borough of Poole, where she had responsibilities for Safeguarding Adults, Statutory Mental Health and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards services. Barbara qualified as a Social Worker and held a wide range of operational and strategic management posts over the years within the Local Authorities of Dorset and Bournemouth where she was a service manager providing services for adults and children with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and people who had mental illness. She has said that having worked alongside Dorset Advocacy for many years she firmly believes that Dorset Advocacy provides a valuable role in ensuring that people at times of need are supported and enabled to have a voice to be afforded their rights to good services from all agencies.

Barbara has also said that she has been impressed at the high level of professionalism and commitment shown by staff and volunteers of the organisation. She will utilise her past experiences to assist Dorset Advocacy to continue to develop much needed services.

John Smith (Treasurer)

John trained as a psychiatric nurse and has a degree in psychology.  He has extensive experience of researching and developing services for children and adults with learning disabilities. This includes the evaluation of alternatives to large hospitals for people with learning disabilities in the Wessex Region, which led to their closure, moving individuals from the large hospitals into smaller units.  John also introduced and evaluated Portage services for pre-school children with severe learning disabilities.  Working with Cheshire Homes in Dorchester, John was instrumental in setting up three bed units; these were the first in the country and this is now the accepted model.   John was involved with local statutory and voluntary bodies in setting up Dorset Advocacy in 1993. John is also a Trustee of the Mill Street Housing Society, which has 85 units, half of which are sheltered housing.

Chris Kippax (Trustee)

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.”

Richard Wills (Trustee)

Richard retired recently after a career in Human Resources. His experience is primarily in the private sector; in the fast moving consumer goods, business to business and personal care industries. He has also worked in the Education and public health (NHS) sectors. He established his own business in 2002 which encompassed consultancy and interim assignments where he specialised in performance management, coaching and mentoring and change management.

Richard is a qualified coach and has achieved the CIPD Advanced Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring; he was drawn to Dorset Advocacy through his coaching experience. Whilst coaching and advocacy are quite different they have very similar values – working independently in support of the client, creating a safe environment where trust and confidentiality are vital.