Our staff members have a wide variety of skills and backgrounds, and work hard to fulfil IPSEA's goals and objectives.  


Ali Fiddy, Chief Executive 

Ali is responsible for the day-to-day running of IPSEA and the implementation of the organisation’s strategic plan. She is a qualified solicitor with extensive casework and policy experience in the fields of education, community care, mental health and public law, and she has spent many years working as a senior manager in the not-for-profit sector. In her spare time, Ali enjoys travel, theatre and glow-stick aerobics. She is also a big Dolly Parton fan.


Susan Curtis, Development and Communications Manager

Susan has worked in marketing and communications for over 20 years in both the non-profit and private sectors. During her career she has headed up the marketing and communication teams for organisations such as Opportunity Links, who developed IT management solutions for the public sector to enable them to deliver information to their communities, and to cr360, a global sustainability software company. As Development and Communications Manager for IPSEA, Susan is responsible for volunteer development, fundraising and communications. Sue loves punishing herself with early morning exercise and relaxes by reading at least ten books a month.


Wendy Rainbow, Legal Team Manager

Wendy is a solicitor and manages IPSEA’s legal team. The legal team trains IPSEA's volunteers as well as supervising and assisting them with legal queries, case work support and tribunal advice. The team also delivers training to parent and carer groups and other organisations helping their members understand their legal rights under the SEND statutory framework, as well as bespoke training courses for other professionals in the SEND field advising them on their legal obligations to children and young people. The legal team seeks to influence policy and legal developments in SEND law by responding to calls for evidence, representing IPSEA on various industry policy groups as well as speaking at conferences across England. 


Issy Abbott, Senior Volunteer Programme Coordinator

Issy’s role involves looking at our volunteer programme on a strategic level. So, how we ensure we have the right processes in place to recruit and retain the right volunteers and that they  get the best experience we can give them so that they stay with us as long as possible.  When not at work Issy, reads a bit, sings a bit, walks a bit and watches Coronation Street quite a lot as ‘Weatherfileld’ is her home town.


Lucy Atherton, Senior SEN Lawyer

Lucy is a solicitor who worked in civil litigation and public law before specialising in education law. She co-ordinates IPSEA’s policy work, using the information gathered through IPSEA’s advice services to improve SEN policy at a local and national level. She frequently works with other stakeholders in the special education sector to highlight issues to individual local authorities and the Department for Education. Lucy also works with the rest of the legal team to deliver training and supervise IPSEA’s case work, along with managing IPSEA’s online legal materials. She is the contact point for IPSEA’s consultancy service for professionals. Outside of work, Lucy enjoys running and cycling, and plays in a football team. 


Maria Bloom, Legal Team Member

As part of IPSEA's legal team Maria works with IPSEA's volunteers delivering training to them whether they are new or existing.  She also provides them with legal support and is responsible for monitoring and supervising their work and assisting them by providing legal updates. Maria also delivers IPSEA's programme of external training to parents, SEN experts, schools and local authorities as well as creating legally based written resources. When Maria isn't working she can be found whooping at her local Zumba class, walking her elderly neighbour's naughty dogs and searching out mid-century crockery at vintage fairs to add to her growing collection.


Emma Brock, Communications Officer

Emma is responsible for building the IPSEA brand and promoting and marketing IPSEA’s services to multiple audiences. She manages and implements IPSEA's marketing campaigns, and coordinates our PR, events, website and social media. Before joining IPSEA, Emma worked for the University of Cambridge as a Project Coordinator looking after the delivery and organisation of a wide range of executive education programmes for some of the largest companies in the world. When not working, Emma is kept busy at home by her toddler, and if she gets a spare moment, can be found reading a good book. 


Robert Chapman, Communications Officer (maternity cover)

Robert is responsible for building the IPSEA brand and promoting and marketing IPSEA’s services to multiple audiences. He manages and implements IPSEA's marketing campaigns, and coordinates our PR, events, website and social media. Before joining IPSEA he worked in events, social media and administration with several small charities. In his spare time Robert loves exploring with his dogs, making exciting new travel plans, and most importantly lounging on the sofa.


Georgina Downard, Legal Team Member

Georgina is a qualified solicitor. As a member of IPSEA’s legal team she shares responsibility for delivering IPSEA’s training programme to volunteers and to various external audiences including parents, schools and SEN professionals. Georgina also monitors and provides legal support to IPSEA volunteers and contributes to IPSEA’s work to improve SEN policy. Outside of work, Georgina enjoys live music, yoga and good old quality time with her friends and family (especially when this involves food!)


Jessica Duke, Personal Assistant to the CEO

Jessica is responsible for helping the Chief Executive manage her workload. Her duties are mainly administrative, however she often has to help other managers with additional tasks. She has recently been responsible for a fundraising campaign dealing with all communications and correspondence. Jessica takes the minutes at the trustee meetings and files any important documentation. When Jessica isn’t working she is very busy looking after her young family. She is a keen tennis player and plays competitively for her local team.


Hannah Ferguson, Tribunal Support Service Coordinator

Hannah’s role involves the monitoring and assessment of referrals coming through our busy Tribunal Helpline and matching those families with a volunteer caseworker. As part of her work, she supports our Tribunal Support Service volunteers and members of IPSEA’s Legal team. In her spare time Hannah likes to go to festivals, walk her dogs and participate in sport. 


Pippa Green, Fundraising Officer

Pippa works on grants and trust fundraising at IPSEA. She researches trusts across the UK, identifies IPSEA’s eligibility and works with the rest of the team to scope new and existing projects to put forward for funding. When not at work, Pippa is busy raising her young family and loves to travel – although is still getting used to the differences that exploring the world with a toddler brings!


Gaynor Middleton, Fundraising Officer

Gaynor supports IPSEA’s Development and Communications Manager in implementing IPSEA’s fundraising plan. Her job involves researching and identifying grant giving organisations to assist IPSEA in determining where the annual fundraising programme should be targeted. Her role includes other support and administrative duties to ensure the efficient operation of the IPSEA office. In her spare time, Gaynor is a keen gardener and enjoys country walks. 


Alex Stafford, Legal Team Member

Alex is a member of IPSEA's legal team. She is responsible for delivering training to new volunteers but also ongoing training to existing volunteers and delivering IPSEA's programme of external training to parents, schools, SEN specialists and local authorities. As well as the training, Alex also provides legal support to the IPSEA volunteers and monitors and supervises the volunteers' work as well as providing them with any legal updates.  Alex also creates legally based written resources. When not being a taxi driver for her children, Alex can be found in the kitchen making jam. Her preserves, cassis and sloe gin all give Mary Berry a run for her money!


Nicola Stevenson, Finance Administrator              

Nicola's role is to keep the office running smoothly. Her focus is predominantly HR, dealing with contracts, invoices, leases, health and safety and carrying out general administration.  When not at work Nicola is busy looking after her family and volunteering in her local community.


Melanie Wells, Triage and Advice Line Coordinator

Melanie has responsibility for the co-ordination of the Advice Line volunteer timetable, dealing with technical queries regarding online training and managing the content for both the public and volunteer website. Melanie answers queries on the Information Service and manages the waiting lists for both the Advice Line and the Tribunal Helpline. Melanie also assists with the general day to day admin of the office. On the weekend, you can find Melanie searching for a bargain in charity shops and antique fairs. She is also partial to a family camping trip. 


Melanie White, Legal Team Member

Mel is a qualified solicitor and SEN mediator. She spent many years in private practice as a family lawyer before a change to teaching Law and Business Studies in a sixth form college. After a period as an Independent Supporter Mel focused on education law, advising and representing parents of children with special educational needs. As a member of IPSEA's legal team, Mel shares responsibility for the ongoing programme of legal training, support and monitoring of IPSEA volunteers. Mel also contributes to IPSEA written resources and legal updates and delivers IPSEA training courses to various interested audiences. Mel continues to work with parents supporting them with their Tribunal appeals and representing them at hearings. Outside of work she attempts to keep fit and read for pleasure but typically spends most of her time being a taxi service for her two children.