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What is Independent Advocacy

CAPS Staff

Here you can find out all about the staff team at CAPS. People with diverse and wide-ranging experience make up the CAPS team. We share a commitment to making sure that the voices of people we work with are heard.

Collective advocacy workers

Ele Davidson

I am the Education as Advocacy Manager. I started working here in October 2014. My role is to support groups of people who access Mental Health services Lothian, to highlight issues that are important to people and help them to have their voices heard where decisions are being made in order to bring about positive change. I also work with a group of people with experience of trauma who are interested in influencing the set up of Lothian’s new trauma centre – Rivers Centre. When I’m not at work I love to spend time with my husband and son, usually doing something outrageous…potentially dangerous but always hugely fun! I love singing and dancing and kick box fitness!

Email address: ele@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07948 740 158

Victoria Jackson

A woman, Victoria, smiling and holding a dog

I started working for CAPS in April 2016 as Volunteer Co-ordinator, however my role has recently changed to Collective Advocacy Manager. I support the CAPS team of Collective Advocacy Workers and volunteers to contribute to CAPS/LEARN work and help to deliver CAPS collective advocacy projects. I work alongside the team to help the service run smoothly. Before I started working for CAPS I worked in Health and Social Care for many years. When I’m not at work I can be found walking and showing my Boston Terriers or at dance classes.

Pam van de Brug

I have previously been involved with CAPS as a volunteer and public artist. I am now the Arts as Advocacy Manager. I work with the Planning Group to organise Out of Sight Out of Mind exhibition and support the participation of individuals in the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. I believe that the arts are a powerful tool for advocacy, as well as to provoke thought and discussion on important issues. As well as the arts, other passions of mine are outdoors pursuits and learning to sew.

Email address: pam@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07989 402 634

Mohasin Ahmed

I have been involved with CAPS since 2018 when I became a volunteer for the Seen But Not Heard project. I am now a Collective Advocacy Worker, working to facilitate two groups for people with lived experience of mental health issues from ethnic minority backgrounds and for people who identify as LGBTQI+. These groups aim to amplify the voices of these communities and support them to learn their rights and create positive changes to mental health service access across Edinburgh.

Outside of work you can find me spending time with friends, cooking vegan treats or reading.

Email address: mohasin@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07971 951 520

Molly Newhouse

A woman, Molly, walking in a hilly landscape.

I started working for CAPS in July 2022. I am a Collective Advocacy Worker, working with two groups: the Experiences of Psychosis project for people who have experiences of psychosis, and the Much More Than a Label project for people who might attract a diagnosis of a personality disorder. The aim of these projects is for people who identify in these groups to come together, have a collective voice and create change. In the past these groups have created a toolkit, produced a film and designed and delivered lived experience workshops. Before CAPS, I was researching informal hierarchies within structurally “equal” groups, and thinking about how everyone’s voice can be heard in group decision-making. For fun you can find me swimming (usually in a pool, but occasionally I brave a wild swim), promoting the direct democracy co-operative model, or walking my border collie.

Email address: molly@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07989 402 612

Benjamin Wold Birmanis

I came to CAPS in October 2022 in my role as Collective Advocacy Worker. I am responsible for the ‘Oor Mad History’ group, where the focus is on community history. Understanding the road travelled by people with mental health issues, both inside and outside the tent of collective advocacy, is essential for fostering a sense of belonging and purpose going forward.

Writing is a passion of mine, and I can often be found in my spare time frowning at a Word document. I also enjoy having friends over for dinner and a glass of homemade elderflower wine.

Email address: benjamin@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07910 983 030

Ellis Kokko (they/them)

I joined CAPS in October 2022 as the collective advocacy worker for two projects: the Seen But Not Heard group for people with experiences of eating disorders, and the Experiences of Trauma group. I am excited to be working to give people with lived experience a voice in an unequal society. I believe collective advocacy is an important way to challenge power imbalances.

My background is in anthropology, research, human rights advocacy and LGBTIQ activism. Before joining CAPS, I was researching transgender mental health and citizenship in the UK. In my free time, I run a queer hiking group Edinburgh Queer Hiking, and you will most often find me exploring the outdoors, painting, cold-water swimming or (slowly) learning to skateboard. I will be working a full day on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and half a day on Tuesday (morning).

Email address: ellis@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07971 951 519

Individual advocacy workers

Individual Advocacy Manager

Kyna smiling

I am the Individual Advocacy Manager at CAPS. I joined CAPS in June 2014 as an Individual Advocacy Worker and soon started to focus on providing advocacy to people around benefits issues, particularly around the introduction of Universal Credit in East Lothian in 2016. I moved into my current role managing the Individual Advocacy service in 2019. Outside of work I enjoy running (very slowly!) and am also learning piano.

Sarah Fox

Sarah Fox, Individual Advocacy Team Leader smiling

I am the Individual Advocacy Team Leader and my role is to support the Adult Team at CAPS. My background is working in the Drug & Alcohol field. I have worked in a variety of different aspects including specialist harm reduction, prison and prescribing. I have had a number of different roles including Harm Reduction Worker and Drugs Commissioning Officer. I have experience of managing both young people’s and adult services. Most recently my role has been leading a team raising awareness of women and gambling related harms and impacts. Working for CAPS and providing independent advocacy is an exciting new chapter for me. I am enjoying supporting individuals to have their voices heard and make their own choices in matters relating to their health and wellbeing.

In my spare time I love spending time with my daughter, friends and family, all things Marvel and being creative.

Steph Davis

I joined the CAPs team in October 2022 as the Children and Young People’s Team Leader. I am really excited to be a part of CAPS and my role will involve supporting and leading the individual advocacy workers as well as providing advocacy to children and young people who are experiencing the children’s hearing system. Also through our new service which is working with children and young people who are experiencing an eating disorder. Our work is to support children and young people to have their voice heard, share their wishes and views and make choices about their lives.

My background is working with children, young people and adults with additional support needs, providing person centred support that promotes individuals to live fulfilling lives. I have experience of managing and leading a team that provides support to young adults with additional support needs living in their own homes.
My role at CAPs is an exciting new chapter for me.

In my free time I enjoy catching up with friends and family especially over a coffee and cake! I like to exercise and go on holiday to warm places! 

Malin Brash

Malin sitting in a coffee shop smiling

I joined CAPS in September 2022 as an Individual Advocacy Worker, after finishing my undergraduate degree in Psychology. I’m really excited to be a part of CAPS’ work in extending adult services to include 16- and 17-year-olds in Midlothian and East Lothian. Supporting others in putting their opinions across and having their voices heard is especially meaningful to me. I’ve previously worked with adults affected by the long-term health effects of drug and/or alcohol use, and I was also part of a collective advocacy project for young people who have experienced CAMHS care in Midlothian. Outside of work you’ll find me spending time with my friends and family (and cats), making collages (very messily), and singing with my (super cheesy) a cappella group!

Lily Walton

Lily Walton

I joined the CAPS team in September 2022 where I stepped into a whole new role and service developed by CAPS as the named Individual Advocacy Worker for Adults with Eating Disorders working across Edinburgh and Lothians. I support individuals in both the community and inpatient admissions within eating disorder and mental health services. I have a deep understanding of eating disorders with over 20 years of insight from a lived experience background. My role is to support individuals experiencing eating disorders in the best way I possibly can by helping to amplify their voice if they feel they are struggling to be heard and to be on their side.

I aim to help voice the views and wishes of those experiencing an eating disorder, promoting them to be seen and heard as a person… “not an eating disorder”.

Outside of CAPS, I also work as a Les Mills group fitness instructor where I teach 16 group exercises classes a week in various gyms which I love. I am so very lucky to be working in roles that I am extremely passionate about and hold very closely to my heart, where both are so much more than “just a job” and about helping others. I also love animals and have a huge passion for horses.

Clive Baker

I joined CAPS in 2003 as a volunteer and since 2007 I have been an Individual Advocacy Worker. My main responsibility is to provide advocacy support to East Lothian and Midlothian people who are affected by the Mental Health Act and so I spend much of my working time at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, though I also support people in the community.

Kousar Javaid

I started with CAPS in June 2014 as an Individual Advocacy Worker. My role is to provide independent advocacy to ensure the person’s voice and their views are heard when dealing with difficult issues relating to their health, benefits, housing etc.. I have previously worked in Family Learning, Youth Work and Domestic Abuse settings. I am currently involved in various community projects; enjoy spending time with my family and going for long walks.

Kirstie Cowley

I started working at CAPS as an Individual Advocacy Worker in June 2019. Prior to my employment at CAPS, I had several years of experience working in different supporting roles with people experiencing mental health issues. What particularly drew me to Independent Advocacy was being able to support people in a way that promotes their right to have their say, express their own views and desires and be fully involved in the decisions which affect their lives. When I am not working or studying, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and you will usually find me exploring around East Lothian.

George Kappler 

I trained as a social worker receiving my MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. I moved to Scotland in 1981 and worked initially with the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, as it was known then, as their first employed officer in Scotland. Following this my first local authority job was with Central Region as team leader to a large social work team in Bellsdyke Hospital, Larbert. Following this I worked in Lothian Region as an assistant co-ordinator of the region’s Emergency Duty Team. I left this to take up a post with Fife Council as manager of mental health, drug and alcohol services, supervising three teams of social workers.

In the mid- 90s I moved to the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, first as a social work officer, then Social Work Commissioner and finally Deputy Chief Executive. I retired from there in 2015. I love working with CAPS and returning to my roots of working with individuals with mental health problems as they try to navigate their way through the various confusing bureaucracies that stand between them and their well being.

Donald Preston

I joined CAPS as an Individual Advocacy Worker in January 2020.

This is a fresh challenge for myself having worked for many years within voluntary organisations, local authorities and in regulation. My experience covers support to people with varying needs (physical disabilities; learning disabilities; older people; mental health; & acquired brain injuries) and in many different settings (support services; care homes; & care at home / housing support).

I have been fortunate to have been involved in and managing many exciting developments in services over my career in social care. Advocacy was a new approach for myself away from directly supporting people to assisting them to have a voice in a different setting.Away from work I like to go for walks (with my dog), enjoy gardening, supporting football and regularly socialising with family and friends.

Drug or Alcohol Individual Advocacy Workers

John Player

A man, John, individual advocacy worker, smiling

I joined CAPS as an Individual Advocacy Worker (drug and alcohol) on 2nd November 2020. I am excited about the non-judgemental approach at CAPS and its stress upon non-stigmatising language. I am keen to adopt a practice which is not about giving people advice but about supporting them making informed choices and then either advocating on their own behalf or asking for me to advocate on their behalf. I like the idea of people having somebody who is on their side and in this instance me on behalf of CAPS. I have been an adult educator, community development worker, youth worker and support worker for 39 years and now looking forward to developing new skills as an Independent Advocate. For fun I like running, cycling, playing guitar and singing loudly!

Niamh Allen

A woman, Niamh, individual advocacy worker, riding a horse

I started with CAPS as a Collective Advocacy Worker on the Seen But Not Heard eating disorder project. I moved over to the Individual Advocacy Team (Drug and Alcohol) in July 2021. I am very passionate about working alongside people to enable them to have their views heard in relation to decisions about their life. I really enjoy working at CAPS and am excited about undertaking this new role. Outside of work I like spending time outdoors, usually walking, cycling and horse riding. I’m originally from Ireland so I often travel back there to visit my family too.

Children and Young People’s Individual Advocacy Workers

Rachael Pearson

Rachael standing in a hallway.

I joined CAPS in September 2022 as Children and Young People’s Individual Advocacy Worker for Lothian and Scottish Borders. My role is to support Children and Young People experiencing an eating disorder to have as much choice and control as possible over their care and treatment. Also, to help them how their views and wishes heard which could be about any other aspects of their life e.g. education.

Prior to joining CAPS I worked with Children and Young People with Autism or a learning disability in an residential setting. I also completed my degree in Sociology and Criminology. Outside of work I enjoy travelling to new places, exercising and spending time with my family, friends and dog.

Denise McFadden

Denise, a white woman with blonde hair, smiling

I joined CAPS in August 2022 as Children and Young People’s Individual Advocacy Worker having previously worked with children within a school setting. My role is to provide Individual Advocacy to Children & Young People within East Lothian & Midlothian who are experiencing the Children’s Hearing System. We support them to express their views and wishes and to be fully involved in any decisions affecting their lives.

In my spare time I like to spend time with my children and cat. I also love being out in nature and swimming in the sea.

Lauren Miller

Lauren, a smiling white woman with blonde hair with beach scene in the background

I joined CAPS in August 2022 as a Children and Young People’s Individual Advocacy Worker for Lothian and Scottish Borders. My role is to support children and young people who are experiencing the Children’s Hearing System to express their views and have their wishes heard. I will also be supporting children and young people who are experiencing an Eating Disorder to have as much choice and control as possible.

Before I joined CAPS, I completed my degree in Psychology and Sociology, learning about how our brains work and how the world works around us! I enjoy spending time with my (massive) family, dancing with my friends, wild camping & keeping super zen through my yoga practice!

Lara Wauchope

A woman, Lara, sitting in an open car boot with a dog

I joined CAPS in June 2020 as the Children and Young People’s Individual Advocacy Worker for East Lothian. My role is to help children and young people who are experiencing the Children’s Hearings System say how they feel and what they want, understand what is happening and understand their rights. I have a background in drama and teaching. I enjoy meeting new people, cooking and spending time with my family, friends and dog!

Robyn Smith

Robyn Smith head shot

I joined CAPS in November 2021 as a Children and Young People’s Individual Advocacy Worker. I support children and young people who are experiencing the Children’s Hearing system. Before I joined CAPS, I spent 4 years studying for my Law degree. During my degree, I studied family and child law which educated me on Advocacy work and the Children’s Hearing system. Throughout my life I have helped care for my brother who has learning difficulties, which has given me lots of experience to work with vulnerable people. When I’m not working, you will find me baking, walking outdoors or spending time with my friends and family.

Office staff

Jane Crawford

A woman, Jane, CAPS Independent Advocacy CEO, smiling

Hello, I’m Jane, the Chief Executive at CAPS. I joined CAPS in March 2012, having previously spent many years working with national children’s charities. It’s a fantastic job working at CAPS because the staff and volunteers are so passionate and committed to what they do with us. Out of work, I love being outdoors in the beautiful East Lothian countryside.

Glen Faulkner

Finance & Administration Manager I take care of the day-to-day administration of CAPS. Some key areas of my work include finance, personnel, IT and the development of policy & procedure. I also work with the CEO to support the Management Committee.

Catherine Street

I came to work for CAPS as Communications Manager in April 2021. I am responsible for all communications work including CAPS’ website and social media. I also support the Management Committee. I have previously worked in a number of charitable organisations mainly in social care and international development. Outside of work I enjoy making art, reading, running and swimming outdoors.

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