Meet Our Advocates!

Sylvia Dobinson (Senior Professional Independent Advocate)

After retiring from a 25 years career in the NHS as a Hospital Administrator in Bolton and Lancashire, I started working in the charity sector which formed my interest in Independent Generic Mental Health Advocacy.  I achieved my level 3 in Independent Advocacy in 2018.

I have a genuine and on-going passion of good quality advocacy and the positive effects that it can have on an individual’s quality of life.  Having worked with several Deaf clients I started to learn British Sign Language where I met my good friend and colleague Linda Crooke.

In the beginning of 2013 Linda and I started a voluntary advocacy service at Bury Deaf Society in Bury.  This was the start of an incredibly successful generic independent advocacy programme for the Deaf community.   As we continued with our work I gained a level 4 award in Sign Supported English and a level 2 qualification in British Sign Language.

In 2014 then we moved our advocacy service to Bolton Deaf Society, which was popular and well attended (we had 3 clients on the first day!).  Bolton had offered us a fantastic base since and although we worked very much independent from our hosts, we maintained strong links (which are still there to this date).

In 2017 we became recognised has a charity (as Network Circle for Deafness) but chose to change our name to Sensory Advocates NW in September 2018 because we wanted to better reflect the diverse communities we support!

I enjoy supporting people who experience injustices and helping them to find their voices, and I also provide support for any person who is without representation including individuals with mental health needs.

Although I support individuals on a wide range of advocacy areas my specialities include:

  • Non-instructed advocacy
  • Social security benefits
  • Mental health
  • Complex cases advocacy

Philip Bridge (Professional Independent Peer Advocate)

Having grown up as an active member of the Greater Manchester Deaf community, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges that friends and family (who have sensory losses) face every day.  I have had a varied career ranging from welding to community support work and have always maintained a sense of fairness and equality for all.  I believe that each individual should be treated with respect, and have information presented to them in a way that they can understand.  Sadly, people who have sensory-loss such as blindness and deafness are routinely overlooked in service planning and provision – My goal is to ensure that my community’s voice is always heard.

I became involved with the Sensory Advocates NW’s predecessor Network Circle for Deafness in 2014, initially as a volunteer support worker.  I am bilingual in English and British Sign Language but can also communicate using Sign Supported English or hands-on communication.  My role also comprises acting as a Deaf relay interpreter.  Having been mentored by Sylvia & Linda, I achieved my Level 2 in Independent Advocacy qualification in 2018.

Although I support individuals on a wide range of advocacy areas my specialties include:

  • Hands-on communication
  • Social security benefits
  • Deaf-blind and minimal language communication
  • General advocacy

 Linda Crooke (Senior Professional Independent Advocate)

I am extremely proud to have recently achieved my Level 3 award in Independent Advocacy and am looking forward to the challenge of widening the reach of Sensory Advocates NW.  My main concern and goals to ensure that every individual with sensory loss are respected and given equal access to the same information and choices as all other citizens.

I have a professional background in administration and compliance and have found that skills I learned throughout my career (such as organisational skills, negotiation, leadership and communication skills) very much compliment my work as an Independent Advocate. 

The work that this charity undertakes has been proven time and time again to be crucial for the who are often marginalized – with statutory and local authority bodies often lacking in consideration and appreciation for the holistic needs of our clients.  The working relationship I have with Sylvia and Philip is absolutely critical to our success – with our complimentary skill set reaching as many people as possible. I achieved my level 3 in Independent Advocate in 2018.

We are supported by a small number of dedicated volunteers, interpreters and specialist advocates who support us in every aspect of our work.  We cannot thank them enough! If you would like to support our work or feel that your skills would make our charity even better, please get in touch!

Although I support individuals on a wide range of advocacy areas my specialties include:

  • English language support
  • Deaf culture
  • Complex cases advocacy
  • Professional development/peer support