MacKay Hannah

ONLINE CONFERENCE Tackling poverty and attainment in Scotland: The challenge beyond pandemic


Jim McCormick

Chief Executive, Robertson Trust

Jim McCormick is Chief Executive of The Robertson Trust.

Previously he was Associate Director Scotland with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2017-20), ran an independent research consultancy and was Director of the Scottish Council Foundation think-tank (2002-07).

He is Chair of the independent Disability and Carers Benefits Advisory Group reporting to the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and a member of the Scottish Government’s Social Renewal Advisory Board. He was Chair of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission (2018-20) and a member of the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC, 2014-20) scrutinizing DWP regulations. He was also an Advisory Board member of Business in the Community Scotland.

In 2018 he was a travelling Churchill Fellow looking at the impact of mentoring programmes for children and young people facing disadvantage in the USA, Canada and New Zealand. 

Interests include music, languages and Greenock Morton FC.


Dr Laura Robertson

Researcher, The Poverty Alliance

Laura joined the Poverty Alliance in 2019 as a Research Officer.

Her areas of interest include participatory and peer-led research and she has worked on a range of projects including an evaluation of Universal Credit in Glasgow, research on lived experience of poverty in Edinburgh and supporting community organisations to develop their own evidence to make change through the Knowledge is Power project.

She has a PhD in criminology from the University of Glasgow.

Outside of work, she enjoys planning day trips and adventures and visiting new places.


Sara Spencer

Cost of the School Day Project Manager, CPAG in Scotland

Sara manages Cost of the School Day, a Glasgow Poverty Leadership Panel project based with Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland and working in partnership with Glasgow City Council Education Services.

Sara is working in eight Glasgow schools to learn more about where problems lie throughout the school day for children and young people from low income households. Children and young people's experiences and ideas will inform the development of practical policy and practice solutions in each school, designed to reduce or remove poverty related stigma and exclusion and ensure that all children and young people can make the most of the school day. Learning and transferable solutions will be shared for wider use.  

Sara has previously held research, evaluation and development posts in various youth and equalities organisations. In a previous role at LGBT Youth Scotland she worked with Education Scotland to develop a toolkit resource which support school staff in dealing with homophobia and homophobic bullying. Most recently she worked at Save the Children, carrying out research and evaluation of the youth leadership and reading help elements of their child poverty programme portfolio.


SallyAnn Kelly

Chief Executive, Aberlour

SallyAnn has over 30 years of experience working in Children’s Services, having qualified as a social worker in 1990. She was promoted to her first management post in 1996 and has worked in several Scottish local authorities in middle and senior management positions until 2008.

Prior to joining Aberlour as CEO in 2014, SallyAnn worked for Barnardo’s Scotland, first as Head of Operations, then as Acting Director of Barnardo’s Scotland.

SallyAnn has a keen interest in strengthening and improving practice with an emphasis on taking rights based approaches. She has a particular interest in improving the experiences of children and young people who have experience of the wider care system in Scotland.  She has enabled Aberlour to put in place ambitious plans for improvement in how the organisation works alongside children and families – not being afraid to be led by the views of children and young people and their families.

She is a member of the Scottish Government Leadership Group on Child Protection and the Perinatal Programme Board.

SallyAnn has a commitment to challenging and reducing poverty and inequality and she has worked with colleagues within Aberlour and across Scotland over a number of years to ensure that reducing child poverty is at the heart of the political agenda.

SallyAnn has supported colleagues in Aberlour to focus on digital transformation and the organisation is currently involved in a number of initiatives to take change forward.

SallyAnn is currently the Chair of STAF (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum).


Martin Dorchester

Chief Executive, includem

Martin Dorchester became Chief Executive of includem in March 2018. Previously Martin was the Group Chief Executive of the David MacBrayne Group, including CALMAC Ferries, Argyll Ferries Ltd and Solent Gateway.

In a career spanning 30 years Martin has operated nationally and internationally with organisations covering logistics, technology and finance. As CEO of Dixon's B2B operation Martin built up the largest Apple reseller business in the UK as well as developing a £100m public sector business. Martin was part of the team that brought the 5 radio authorities together to create Ofcom and worked with the London Borough of Hackney on developing its infrastructure for the 2012 Olympics. Martin is also a keen lecturer and academic and has written a number of papers covering areas as diverse as CSR and Emotional Intelligence in Management Development and more recently on children and young people.

Martin is a Co-chair of the Independent Care Review and a Non-executive Director of CCPS. He has held a number of non-executive roles including: Non-executive Director of Traveline Scotland, The Sailors' Orphan Society of Scotland and most recently Transport for Wales. He is a supporter of Social and Community Business and Chaired Firstport Ltd, a start-up funding organisation for social enterprises.
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Claire Barton

Head of Services, includem

Claire has been with includem for 18 years, working her way up from a Mentor to her current role as Head of Services. Previously, she volunteered for Richmond Fellowship Scotland and with experience working for the NHS. She is passionate in ensuring children and young people get the support that is right and makes a difference for them, understanding that children and young people are the experts in their own life. She is registered as a manager with SSSC and a qualified SVQ Assessor.

Away from work, Claire has a genuine interest in mindfulness and wellbeing – finding time to meditate every day. She can also be found with a cup of tea, a good book or a new lego set.


Meg Thomas

Head of Research, Policy & Participation, includem

Meg is head of Research, Policy & Participation with includem. Meg is a qualified Social Worker with 30 years of experience working with children, young people and families in a wide range of settings in both her homeland of Australia and her adopted home of Scotland.

Meg joined includem seven years ago as a Services Manager. She now uses her professional experience to influence includem’s policy and practice to ensure that the experiences and voices of those we support are at the heart of all we do and are amplified with policy makers and implementers.

When she is not at work, Meg likes to run and knit – thankfully not at the same time as is not that co-ordinated.


Tam Baillie

Speaker, Trainer and Consultant in the field of children's rights; & former Children and Young People’s Commissioner (Scotland)

Tam has over 35 years experience working on children and young people’s issues.

In the initial stages of his career, Tam spent more than 20 years as a practitioner working with our most vulnerable children and young people. This practice provides a solid base for all of his future influencing work.  Later, he influenced service delivery through the development of good practice and the re-provisioning of services.  For the past 15 years he has been operating in positions where he is able to influence national and local policy, with progressively increased opportunities to engage in international activities.  As a consequence, he has been involved in influencing activities through UN structures reporting on the UNCRC and has had the opportunity to influence children’s rights policies at European level through the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

He has been a manager and leader of staff and budgets for over 30 years, including raising necessary finances for developing services in various settings.  He is experienced in dealing with national and local politicians and senior civil servants.  He has extensive experience of public speaking and engaging with the press, radio and television media.

Tam was the Children and Young People’s Commissioner (Scotland) between May 2009 and May 2017.  

With his role as the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Tam had a duty to promote and safeguard the rights of children and young people in Scotland under the age of 18, or those under 21 if they have ever been in the care of a local authority.

The Commissioner had duties of:

  • Raising awareness of rights
  • Involving children and young people in our work
  • Considering law, policy and practice that concerns rights
  • Communicating best practice about rights

Tam’s current activities include:

  • Chair the Shetland Public Protection Committee
  • Chair of the Western Isles Child Protection Committee
  • Vice-Chair of the Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Board member of the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA)
  • Chair of the Campaign to End Youth Homelessness in Scotland
  • Board member of the International Play Association, Scotland
  • Board member of the International Play Association, World
  • Board member of Upstart Scotland
  • Ambassador for Cyrenians, Edinburgh
  • Ambassador for Lickity Spit Children Theatre Company

Tam also works a speaker, trainer and consultant in the field of children’s rights.


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The annual conference and awards event for secretaries and PAs is a must-attend for anyone in a PA or admin role. I can't even begin to explain how this event has changed the way I think and I will definitely be asking to attend the 2012 event.

Joanne Mullan, Fife Council,
Delegate at ACES