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  • Writer's pictureThe Advocacy People

Meet the advocate - Maxine

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Support advocate Maxine is one of the team working out of our Contact Centre in Hastings. She and her colleagues are usually the first port of call for anyone getting in touch with The Advocacy People, whether that’s a member of the public making a first enquiry to seek support, an existing client checking in with their case, or a professional putting in a referral.

We caught up with Maxine to find out all about her job and to get to know her a little better too!

How long have you been working at The Advocacy People and what was your background prior to that?

I’ve been working here for 10 months. Before this role, I was an attendance officer at a secondary school and worked as a nursery nurse before that. I’m definitely a caring personality and find these roles very rewarding. I feel very settled in at The Advocacy People now and feel as if I’ve worked with the team for years.

How would you describe the work of the Contact Centre team – what’s your role?

Here in the Contact Centre, we’re a central hub for the organisation. We speak to clients and professionals daily through various means, including via phone calls, email, and web chat. We help problem-solve queries and enable appropriate support to be put in place for clients.

Working in my role as a Support Advocate, you quickly gain a wide knowledge base and understanding of various advocacy services.

The role of a Support Advocate is quite a varied one and aside from the obvious, includes supporting colleagues from across the organisation with queries, providing appropriate signposting information to clients and referrers, and managing safeguarding calls, ensuring the safety of the people we talk to.

What do you most love about your job and which parts do you find more challenging?

The team in the Contact Centre are wonderful and make the job much easier. The supportive nature of the team and the organisation in general make the job very enjoyable. It’s also a rewarding job by nature, helping people access the support they need. It’s nice building up a positive rapport with the clients too.

It can be challenging manging expectations in instances where we can’t provide the level of support clients and referrers are looking for.

What would you like people to know about Advocacy?

One of the main purposes of advocacy is to empower the people we work with and help them to overcome barriers in their life and circumstances. It’s a really valuable tool.

We find most people who have not been supported by advocacy before, generally have no knowledge it exists or what kind of support advocacy provides. I think anything we can do to broadly raise awareness of advocacy is a good thing, so people know that these vital services are there for when they, or someone they know, needs them.

What’s your way of keeping yourself well at work and creating a good work-life balance?

Having regular breaks away from my desk is a must, especially when we’re on the phone taking calls all day. I also make an effort to get out and do things on weekends and during my time off. Sometimes, it can be too easy to just chill at home, but the weekends pass by far too rapidly without doing something fun and proactive.

I’m fortunate to work mostly in the office, so chatting with colleagues during the day is a great way to break up the day and connect with others. Peer discussions also allow a good opportunity to talk through challenging situations that have occurred at work (such as difficult calls) and discuss freely with people who also do the role and already have an understanding.

I can also work from home and having the flexibility to do this is really valuable to personal well-being.

What signs do you get that tell you it’s time to take a break or take steps to look after your mental health and what do you then do?

A sure sign I need to take a step back and breathe is when things start to bother me that I’d usually be able to deal with objectively. Also, persistent difficulty sleeping is a sure sign. I find doing sudokus a good way to unwind, as long as they’re not too tricky! I usually fit a quick sudoku in my lunch break and before bed.

What do you enjoy most when you’re not at work and why?

I love experiencing music and going to concerts when I can. I find concerts a great way to meet new people too. Personally, I find music best enjoyed shared with others.

My music taste is quite wide, and I love discovering new music and artists, especially at events such as festivals.

Describe yourself in 3 or 4 words!

Bubbly, easy-going and creative

What’s one thing you really like about where you live?

I live in the East Sussex countryside, and I love having the South Downs on my doorstep. This was especially valuable during lockdown, as I could go out and about with no travel required. It can be quite remote, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives!

If you could wave a wand, what’s one thing you’d change in the world?

I’d love for everyone to be kind. It’s important to put ourselves first in many instances, but equally important to think of others and strangers in day-to-day life.

What’s one thing that makes you laugh, and what’s your pet hate?

My family make me laugh so much! I’m so lucky to have such a great relationship with my parents and sister. We get along like a house on fire and usually end up cracking each other up. Ironically, my family also drive me up the wall! We all live together in a small house and the close proximity can be trying at times!

You’ve just done the sponsored Mighty Hike for Macmillan Cancer Care – what was it like, and why did you choose them?

It was tough but lots of fun. The weather was very warm and humid, and the hills were challenging, especially towards the end! I completed it in under 5 hours with a ‘moving time’ of 4 hours 40 mins, and climbed 1,603 feet in total elevation gained.

According to my Strava app, I also burned 1,597 calories (most of which I’m sure I replaced once I finished!)

I had a great time and am proud of what I achieved!

Maxine in training for her hike

Macmillan are an amazing organisation and a lifeline for those battling cancer and their families. They provide invaluable support, practical help and advice which is helpful in the real world.

I’m so happy to have raised funds for Macmillan through my sponsored hike, especially after my mum’s battle with cancer a few years ago, which she has thankfully fully recovered from.

Maxine during the Mighty Hike event

Is there something about you your friends or colleagues might be surprised to learn?

I like off-road biking on the tandem! I did the 100-mile South Downs Way on a tandem with my dad a few years ago. We did it over two days, starting in Winchester and finishing in Eastbourne. The second day was tough!

Isn’t that terrifying the first few times you do it, especially downhill? How is it different to riding a normal bike?

We’ve only had some minor scrapes at slow speed fortunately! It’s a different feel for balance on the tandem than an ordinary bike, and we have learned to work together, especially in where we put our weight. The other big difference is the extra-long turning circle which you need to allow for. On the back it’s strange not to be able to steer with the handlebars. You have to learn to be very trusting in each other!

Maxine and her dad on the off-road tandem bike


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