A charity offering independent support and guidance to disabled and vulnerable people across Shropshire has a new chairperson.

Ben Payne was appointed to lead the trustees of the Shropshire Peer Counselling and Advocacy Service at the recent annual meeting. He takes over from Peter Quinn who has been chairperson for a year and before that headed the charity’s financial team.

Ben joined PCAS in early 2023. He explained that he was keen to get involved after hearing how PCAS provided a voice for people, particularly those who were vulnerable.

“I’m extremely proud to have been appointed as chairperson of a charity that does such an amazing job in Shropshire every single day,” he said.

The Peer Counselling and Advocacy Service, which is based in Oswestry, provides one-to-one support and guidance for any adult with a disability who needs an independent advocate.

The charity’s advocates support clients to speak up for themselves, get the information they need and make choices about their circumstances often at the most difficult times in their lives.

“Very often people with a disability are overlooked. They often struggle to get their voices heard or can struggle with things that many of us take for granted. But PCAS can offer a shoulder to lean on and a vital lifeline to some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Ben.

He added that in its 28 year history the charity had supported more than 10.800 people and in the past year alone had helped clients to access more than 2,000 new services.

Ben is a former journalist and PR professional who has worked for national organisations such as the National Lottery Community Fund. He is now operations director for 7video, a Shrewsbury-based company making films and animations.

He is also a volunteer for the Teenage Cancer Trust and a mentor with The Prince’s Trust. He is currently training to be a counsellor specialising in person centred therapy.  He is married with one son.

Ben takes over from Peter Quinn who has been a trustee with the charity for more than ten years. He had worked with mental health clients within the NHS and when he retired and moved to Shropshire, he was keen to get involved in an advocacy charity.

He said he was proud of overseeing the development of the charity into an organisation that offered security and stability for all of those involved.

“But I have received much more from PCAS than PCAS has received from me. It has been an honour to be chairperson,” he said.

Further information on the Shropshire PCAS and its services are available at https://shropshirepcas.co.uk/ or by emailing the charity’s manager, Simon Arthur at simon@shropshirepcas.co.uk

Retiring chairperson Peter Quinn (left) with Ben Payne.