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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 Collective Advocacy Manager. I started working here in October 2014 as a Collective Advocacy Worker. I now manage and support CAPS’ team of Collective Advocacy Workers. When I’m not at work I love to spend time with my husband, son and labradoodle, Moppet, usually doing something outside, regularly outrageous…potentially dangerous but always hugely fun! I love singing and dancing and knitting multicoloured blankets!

Email address: ele@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07948 740 158

Niamh Allen

I am the Collective Advocacy Team Leader. I started in April 2024 and am excited to be in this new role. I have previously worked at CAPS as the Collective Advocacy Worker for the Seen But Not Heard project, from 2014 until 2021. I then worked in Individual Advocacy on the Drug and Alcohol Team until 2023.

I have studied counselling and outside of CAPS I work part time as a CBT therapist.

Most of my free time is spent outdoors, walking with my dog, a Corgi called Buster. I also part share a horse called Sparkles near the Pentland Hills, so I am usually out there exploring with her at the weekends. I am originally from Ireland and regularly go back to visit family.

Email address: niamh@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07855 209 558

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

Ellis Kokko (they/them)

I joined CAPS in October 2022 as a Collective Advocacy Worker. I facilitate the Seen But Not Heard group for people with experiences of eating disorders, the group for LGBTQIA+ people 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

Azra Khan (she/they)

I started working for CAPS in May 2023. I am the Collective Advocacy Worker for the Oor Mad History project. The project aims to enable people who have lived experience of mental health issues to come together in solidarity in order to enact positive change in mental health policy making and provision of services. My role is to amplify the powerful voices of these communities and focus on the issues most important to them.

I am a mad activist currently undergoing my masters in Mad Studies. In the past I was a volunteer for CAPS and have contributed artwork and writing for different projects. In my spare time I enjoy poorly trying to emulate Tom Waits through my singing and nurturing my love/hate relationship with creative writing.

Email address: azra@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07436 102 762

Jessica Stubbs (She/Her)

I joined CAPS in May 2023 as the Collective Advocacy Worker for Veterans. I facilitate the Veterans Advisory Group, which informs and actively participates in The Scottish Veterans Wellbeing Alliance. Coordinating and amplifying the voices of UK veterans and their families within Scotland, we aim to steer the growth of services and programs within Scotland, assist veterans to share their perspectives for the benefit of the community, to challenge stigmas and take ownership of the life-after-service narrative.

I am both a US Army combat veteran and a military spouse. I enjoy connecting with veterans across the country and helping them use their lived experiences and perspectives to make a positive impact.

My background is in international affairs and the research of social networks. Outside of work, I can usually be found out and about with my family and my enormous dog. (I’d take my dog with me everywhere if I could!) I also love being crafty, doing puzzles and anything that gets me outside.

Email address: jessica@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07929 751 911

Angharad Blundell

I am the Collective Advocacy Worker (Edinburgh), I’ve worked at CAPS since August 2023. I facilitate groups for people with experiences of mental health issues within the four localities of Edinburgh. I’m enthusiastic about working collaboratively and creatively to make change. I’m a native Welsh speaker and I have a background in socially engaged art. In my spare time I enjoy dog walks, trying to remember to water my jungle of houseplants, and listening to podcasts.

Email address: angharad@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07989 402 612

Irene Paolini

I am the Collective Advocacy Worker (Peer Community). I worked as mental health practitioner and peer worker for almost three years. I am passionate about the peer approach and the intentional sharing of personal experiences to normalise mental health issues. I am currently undergoing a MSc in Psychology of Mental Health and my dissertation project investigates the relationship between engagement with mental health services and socioeconomic status. Alongside this, I am an independent filmmaker focusing on documentary production. In my spare time I enjoy weightlifting, theatre, reading about physics and writing poetry. I also love water sports and I am a surfing enthusiast.

Email address: irene@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07881 377 635

Alex Kellas

Photo of Alex

I started work at CAPS in November 2023 as a Collective Advocacy Worker, facilitating the Much More Than a Label group for people with experience of Personality Disorders, and the group for people with experience of Psychosis across Edinburgh and the Lothians.
I also work in drug harm reduction, education and support across Scotland, and have an academic background in Social Work, Mad Studies and Literature. I volunteer for a number of grassroots community organisations with a focus on nightlife harm reduction and radical community building.
In my spare time I can usually be found arguing with my cat, working on my narrowboat and writing painfully earnest poetry.

Email address: alex@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07812 487 943

Amy Shields

I joined CAPS in November 2023 as the Collective Advocacy Worker for Midlothian and East Lothian and for the Lothian Voices project. My background is in lots of different types of support work with some psychology, counselling and coaching training too. I am very interested in well-being and the power of listening so am excited to have joined an advocacy organisation that also values these things.

In my free time I enjoy making mosaics, finding sea glass & pottery on beaches, crocheting, walking in woods, baking and cats, especially Siamese.

Email address: amy@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07910 983 030

Elil Jeyakumar

I joined CAPS in November 2023 as the Collective Advocacy Worker for the Minority Ethnic and the Experience of Trauma projects. My background is in Anthropology. I have 5 years of experience working in drug and alcohol support, and migrant and refugee mental health support. Coming from a refugee family, migrated from a war-torn country, I am very passionate about bringing to the foreground the effects of both trauma as well as race and culture-based barriers in accessing support.

I am an avid cyclist, so you may find me cycling through the busy (and pothole-ridden) roads of Edinburgh. I also like to cook, so in my spare time I can also be found mastering my signature recipe.

Email address: elil@capsadvocacy.org

Mobile number: 07971 951 520

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.

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. Initially my role was focussed on extending our advocacy provision to younger adults, but I’m excited to now act as the designated worker for our LGBTQIA+ independent advocacy project in Midlothian and East Lothian. I continue to work with CAPS in supporting adults affected by mental health issues in these areas too.

Supporting others in knowing their rights and having their voices heard is especially meaningful work for me, and making advocacy as accessible as possible is something I feel enthusiastic about. Outside of my work at CAPS, you’ll find me studying as a trainee counsellor, making music with (and cooking very badly for) my friends, and spending time with family.

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.

Jules Spooner

Portrait photo of Jules

I joined CAPS as an Individual Advocacy Worker in January 2024, working in the Adult Mental Health Team.

My background is in music education, and I continue to work as a freelance musician with children living with additional support needs.

I am excited to be working in this role working alongside people – listening, supporting them in their choices, and helping them to have their voice heard.

When I’m not at work I love spending time with family and friends, hanging out with my cockapoo Mocha, and enjoying the wonders of nature on countryside walks.

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!

Victoria MacKenzie

I started working with CAPs in July 2023 as an Individual Advocacy Worker for drugs and alcohol. I have an educational and work background in the social sciences and psychology. I also have experience volunteering with third sector charities that help supporting individuals overcoming barriers or personal difficulties. I am excited to be a part of the CAPs team and to help others have their own voice and opinions heard. In my spare time I like to meet up with friends and going on city breaks to different places.

Children and Young People’s Individual Advocacy Workers

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! 

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.

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!

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.

Judith Stirling

I am the Personnel & Administration Officer at CAPS. I joined CAPS in March 2023. I will be supporting the staff within CAPS with personnel, IT and administrative duties along with assisting the Finance and Administration Manager. Outside of work I enjoy walking, swimming, going to the theatre and spending time with friends and family.

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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