The hard-working team of over 60 people at Advocacy Focus, including employees, volunteers and trustees, are all dedicated to supporting the well-being of individuals in our local community.  

This page is just a short introduction to our Leadership Team, but look out for our news, blogs and articles each week as we introduce you to our Advocates and volunteers, who are essential to providing the best possible support and outcomes for those who need us.

Senior Leadership Team

Justine Hodgkinson – CEO 

Justine joined the Advocacy Focus team as Chief Executive Officer in 2014 at a time of real change affecting the delivery of advocacy services. She has considerable experience in social work, charitable work and education, making her a spearhead for positive developments in the sector.

Born and bred in Lancashire and with a background in the armed forces, Justine made the move to the third sector around 15 years ago, after realising that her real motivation for work was to reach out to the most marginalised members of society and give them the support they need.

In just four short years of being CEO, Justine has transformed our culture into a female friendly and supportive environment that encourages and promotes the health and wellbeing of every single employee, as well as providing a platform for growth and development. She has overseen the significant expansion of our charity, taking our charity outside of Lancashire and across the North West. She also regularly takes to the stage to provide talks around her core passions including children's mental health and the menopause. 

In May 2018, Justine won the Excellence in Engagement Award at the North-West Employee Engagement Group (NWEEG) Awards 2018 for her role in transforming the Advocacy Focus culture. In 2019, Justine won the Champion of Women Award at the Ex-Forces in Business Awards, an awards ceremony celebrating the impact and value ex-military personnel bring to business.

John Hutchison – Operations Director

John joined the Advocacy Focus team as an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) before progressing through our charity ranks to Directorship level. He is instrumental in the strategic planning and future direction of our charity and continues to develop the solid foundations on which we grow.

As Operations Director, John manages our marketing, finance and HR teams, providing a safe and enjoyable working environment for all our employees. He also manages our entire IT infrastructure and all five offices across the North West; from recruitment to telecoms, the operations play a vital role in any organisation and it's safe to say that without John, our team of Advocates wouldn't be able to do their job as effectively. 

John also implemented our annual Health and Wellbeing Surveys, as well as numerous policies which place our employees at the heart of our organisation. From our Health and Wellbeing Policy to our Training Policy and our Employee Handbook, John is always looking out for the Advocacy Focus team. 

In 2018, John won Charity Director of the Year at the North West Charity Awards, showing his commitment to Advocacy Focus and just how much he has done for our team.

Leanne Hignett – Service Delivery Director 

Leanne is a young, passionate and tenacious leader who always puts the service user at the heart of our service delivery.

As Service Delivery Director, Leanne manages a team of five Advocacy Managers and over 30 Independent Advocates, ensuring that we deliver our renowned, high quality and accessible advocacy services throughout the communities where we work. Leanne is a qualified Social Worker as well as a highly skilled Independent Advocate, with extensive experience in the Court of Protection arena as a Litigation friend and Rule 1.2 representative.

In just 18 short months, Leanne has managed to completely restructure our service delivery model and develop our Care Act Advocacy service into a sector leading service and has been instrumental in the development of her team and our charity. 

Leanne’s development of our core services has currently so far changed the lives of over 3,500 people – and counting. In 2018, she was recognised nationally for her leadership skills at the Third Sector Care Awards, where she was shortlisted for the Leadership Award at the age of 27.

Our Patron 

Jake Mills

Jake Mills is an award-winning stand-up comedian, mental health campaigner and CEO.

Described as the ‘Dalai Lama of Mental Health’, Jake founded and runs the multi-award winning national mental health charity, Chasing the Stigma, following his own battle with depression and suicide attempt in 2013.

From a place of despair and personal turmoil, Jake created the Hub of Hope, a ground-breaking mental health database that has since become the UK’s biggest and most comprehensive mental health signposting tool, revolutionising mental health pathways in the UK.

Jake was appointed CEO of Chasing the Stigma in February 2018 and has singlehandedly driven the charity forward to become one of the fastest rising and well-respected mental health charities in the UK, with it being awarded a BIMA Award, Third Sector Care and Charity Times award.

In 2018, Jake developed the Ambassador of Hope mental health training programme, a fully accredited and accessible training programme, making it easier for organisations to equip all members of staff with the knowledge to talk about mental health confidently within the workplace. The training has already been rolled out to thousands across different sectors, working with organisations such as the Premier League and Government offices.

Jake is an avid Evertonian and a self-confessed Bruce Springsteen fanatic. Most importantly though, he is a husband to Rachael and a dad to Teddy and Nancy.

Management Team

Nicola – Volunteer Manager

Nicola joined our team in December 2018 with significant experience in managing large volunteer teams. Throughout her career, she has worked on numerous flagship projects which have generated a substantial amount of charity funds and improved health and wellbeing. She has recruited, trained and managed over 80 volunteers.

As our Volunteer Manager, Nicola oversees, mentors and trains our growing team of over 30 volunteers, including the recruitment, retention and development of a number of different volunteer roles. Outside of work, Nicola created a netball club for her daughter which now comprises of 18 junior teams.

Advocacy Managers


Before joining Advocacy Focus, Becci worked as a Substance Misuse Worker, supporting people with complex needs. Through this, and similar roles, Becci has gained much experience of developing and delivering training and awareness sessions to professionals and service users.

With a first class degree in Counselling Skills with Therapeutic Studies and particular experience with the Mental Capacity Act and DoLS, Becci works as one of our four Advocacy Managers, managing, mentoring and developing a team of eight Advocates. Becci is a multi-skilled Advocate herself and is also our Time to Change champion, campaigning for mental health awareness within the workplace.


Before joining Advocacy Focus, Leanne has worked within the legal profession specialising in Criminal and Family Law. She worked within a Local Authority specialising in Early Intervention and worked for the Head of Service as a Personal Assistant.

Leanne has been with Advocacy Focus for over six years and was runner up in the National Advocacy Awards 2016 for Best Independent Advocate.  Leanne has extensive knowledge of working within the Court of Protection, specialising in the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. She currently manages a team of eight Advocates.


Aimee is a multi-skilled Advocate having worked at Advocacy Focus for over four years, she currently manages and develops a team of seven Advocates, as well as two student placements. 

Aimee started as an Independent Mental Health Advocate shortly after obtaining an honours degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, but soon specialised in Mental Capacity Advocacy, DoLS and eventually the full spectrum of statutory advocacy. Aimee is a Time to Change champion and is passionate about supporting others and beating the stigma of mental health. She recently won an ABCD (Above the Call of Duty) Award for her support, guidance and mentoring within Advocacy Focus. 


Sally is based in our Trafford office, managing a team of five Advocates. She has worked in advocacy for over 10 years, having begun her career in providing non-instructed advocacy for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities in long-stay institutions.  

Since starting her career, Sally has developed a strong desire to help people take back control of their lives and has been instrumental in the development of advocacy services in Manchester. She has developed a Carers Advice and Advocacy Service, a Safeguarding Advocacy Service and the Manchester Advocacy Hub and is further developing and managing the Trafford Advocacy Hub for the citizens of Trafford.


We are always on the lookout for volunteers to join our team. If you are interested in becoming an advocacy volunteer, check out our volunteers section and contact us for more information! Our volunteers are essential to providing the best possible support and outcomes for those who need us!



We are fortunate to be governed by a wonderfully experienced and supportive Board of Trustees, who provide us with support at strategic level to ensure that Advocacy Focus is running in the most effective way possible as a registered charity and key community organisation.

If you are interested in becoming a trustee, please visit our latest vacancies page where you can apply at 

[email protected]

Could you be part of the Advocacy Focus team? Check out our latest vacancies page, you can apply at 

[email protected]

Work with us