Dorset Youth


At our headquarters in Lubbecke Way, and across the county of Dorset, our team is working tirelessly to bolster our local communities, highlight the work of local organisations and support our incredible young people.

Meet our wonderful staff and trustees below...


Meet The Team

  • Mike Bennett
    Mike Bennett
    Ceo

    I am very honoured to be the new CEO of DYA and be part of an organisation that supports young people, families and other Voluntary organisations within Dorset.
    Dorset has a strong history of volunteers and organisations that strive to improve the lives of others in their community and I am glad to be a small part of that working for DYA.
    I moved to Dorset in 2008 as the Area Youth Worker based in Sturminster Newton and ran clubs in the surrounding North Dorset area. We established open access provision, school and project based work within the local community. We established a strong DofE programme as well as working with young people on employability programmes as well as tackling local need for young people within North Dorset. Establishing provision such as a climbing wall, moped and off road motorbike projects, outdoor activities, first aid training, babysitting courses, holiday provision, peer mentoring and the senior member programme.
    All this was only possible through the partnership working with volunteers and the Voluntary Sector.
    In 2015 I left the Youth Service to run a CIC company running projects within schools and other Local Authorities in the UK. This then lead to designing and developing the Global Youth Ambassador Programme focusing on Global Citizenship and linking mainstream schools with international schools. A project that in 3 years provided training to 2000+ 8-18 year olds and opportunities for teachers and 750+ students, many of which were Pupil Premium to travel to another school in different country for free.
    I am very much looking forward to working with so many fantastic young people, families, volunteers and professionals again within Dorset.

  • Lindsey Halford
    Lindsey Halford
    Operations Manager

    I have been working for Dorset Youth Association since 2008, and in 2012 took on the role of Infrastructure Manager based at our Lubbecke Way Headquarters, and am a member of the Senior Management Team.

    Since leaving my management position in the public sector, I have worked in the Voluntary Sector in Dorset for over 15 years and have a wide knowledge of how the sector works and a wide network of colleagues, locally and regionally, to refer to when necessary. Since joining Dorset Youth Association I have been facilitating the 0-25 Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS) Forum, and enjoy bringing people together to be part of a collective voice in Dorset. I have excellent working relationships with statutory colleagues, and use my communication skills to empower the VCS to inform them of the voluntary sectors views and help influence their thinking.

    I am fortunate to work with other professionals who feel passionate about the children, young people and families we work with, and the sector we work in, and it is empowering for me to see the successes they have achieved and the changes they have made through this passion.

  • Debbie Shaw
    Debbie Shaw
    Finance Officer

    I am the Finance Officer for Dorset Youth Association working full time from our Headquarters in Lubbecke Way, Dorchester. I started in 2001 on a part time basis and I manage the Associations finance and human resources together with ensuring the smooth running of the office and managing the venue hire.

    Leaving extended education with a BEC National Diploma (Distinction) in Business Studies my career has been finance based having spent the early 10 years with Nat West Bank, working through all the clerical grades and gaining ‘Institute of Bankers’ qualifications. I then decided to focus on accountancy and gained Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification prior to my returning to the workplace after raising a family.

    I have supported the Associations financial journey as it moved from hand written ledgers to excel workbooks and through to the dedicated finance software programmes we currently use. As a mum of 4 children I have used my skills to support their activities through a variety of voluntary roles - committee member for local playgroup, treasurer for the school PTFA and as a Scout Leader.

    I believe young people are the key to the success and happiness of our local communities and am privileged to work for an organisation that endeavours to give young people the best opportunities in life.

  • Lynne Rockey
    Lynne Rockey
    0-25 VCS Forum Project Officer

    I have worked at DYA for over 14 years, starting as Administrator for the organisation and then facilitating the Strengthening Families Programme from 2012-2020. Having developed and delivered the Strengthening Families Programme, I have further developed my organisational and communication skills which helped to bring this project together and, through building excellent working relationships with other agencies, successfully delivered this project right across rural Dorset to many families. Sadly, due to a lack of continuation funding and then the pandemic, delivery of the programme was no longer possible.

    So, in March 2020, I took on the role of facilitating the 0-25 VCS Forum just days before lockdown hit…going from planning a face-to-face conference for over 100 people to moving everything online and into a virtual world. Quite some challenge, but it was achieved and we continue to offer both virtual and face to face events, training, and meetings, to work successfully in this changed world.

    Having worked with Dorset Youth now for over 14 years, I have built a good knowledge of the VCS sector and made many positive links with statutory and health partners which greatly helps support my current role.

    I recognise the power in organisations coming together and sharing information and resources to build a stronger VCS for those working with and for children, young people and families in Dorset. By working together we can only increase the positive changes we can make for those we work to support and each other.

  • Lilly Markwell
    Lilly Markwell
    Youth Employment Team Leader

    I have been in post as the Youth Employment Team Leader at Dorset Youth since December 2021. My role is to help provide opportunities for young people to give them the skills and experience for the world of work. This includes helping young people in Youth Club settings and providing Young Leader training and looking at employability programmes or volunteering opportunities to help young people flourish. I also help run the Voice project, which is about capturing the voices of young people in Dorset and finding out how they would like services and activities improved in their local area.

    I have been working with young people for 8 years and have recently gained my L5 Diploma in Education & Teaching. My youth work journey started at a NCS leader for the summer programmes and progressed into a Prince’s Trust Team Leader before starting work at Dorset Youth. I have a lot of experience working with young people especially those who are NEET (not in education, employment or training). I also have a BA Hons degree in Sport, Health and Fitness and several Outdoor Adventure qualifications, and where possible I like to work with young people in the great outdoors as it has so many benefits.

    I have a strong passion for working in the youth industry and believe that every young person deserves the opportunities to thrive. I am enthusiastic about increasing these opportunities for young people especially in our more rural areas of Dorset.

  • Jess Ledbury
    Jess Ledbury
    Family Link Worker

    I joined the team at Dorset Youth Association in June 2013 as a Family Link Worker. My role within the organisation is to work with families who need practical, direct support with a range of issues.

    Previously I have worked in mental health and with young offenders around substance misuse. Although I enjoyed both these roles, I wanted to work more directly with families as a whole, using a holistic approach. This way of working was encouraged during my social work training. I have completed various training and development courses during my time at DYA, including Strengthening Families, Intense Support to Families with Complex Needs Level 4, and Group Teen Triple P. Continuing to develop my knowledge and skills in this way has enabled me to understand some of the problems families face, and provide strategies to support them in moving forward and sustaining this.

    As a Family Link Worker, I have been able to work with a variety of different people and it is inspiring to see the changes some families can make when they have the right support and motivation. I feel that in order to achieve change the needs of the family should be addressed alongside each other, and not just individually.

  • Amanda Hewitt
    Amanda Hewitt
    Family Link Worker

    I have lived in Dorset all my life; through my own family I became interested in working with children and families. I joined Dorset Youth Association, as a Family Link Worker in September 2016, having gained experience of working with children and families from a wide range of settings. From managing Dorset’s first Neighbourhood nursery for 0- 9 year olds in Bovington, working in schools, Children’s Centres, early year’s settings, homes and on Traveller sites. This gave me an opportunity to work with a wide range of professionals including those in health, education, housing, the prison service, youth services, social care and many voluntary organisations. Many of the families I have worked with are reluctant to engage with services. Building trusting relationships has been essential and I have found that being willing to be flexible, meeting parents and their children in their own home and making sure that I address their concerns have been key to establishing positive changes for the child and families. My NVQ 4 in Child Care and Education, training in Mental Health, Autism, ‘The Incredible Years program‘, ‘Working with Resistant Families’ have enabled me to apply my understanding of parenting issues in order to empower parents, helping them to engage with other services. Having such experience gives me an opportunity to offer advice and support on child development, the importance of play and healthy lifestyles, to achieve the best possible outcomes for their children.

  • Tara Gool
    Tara Gool
    Family Link Worker

    Bio Coming Soon

  • Emma Lucas
    Emma Lucas
    Family Link Worker

    Bio Coming Soon

  • Lewis Coward
    Lewis Coward
    Website Administrator

    I am the Website Administrator for Dorset Youth and I have been in the position since August 2022. After completing my undergraduate degree, I wanted a pause from the world of academia and subsequently took on the role based at our Lubbecke Way Headquarters.

    My main role has been helping develop this very website. This has been a challenging yet thoroughly enjoyable task. I have enjoyed learning about the voluntary and community sector a world that I was mostly unaware of before this role. This role has been very rewarding and has given me a chance to give something back to the local community I grew up in.

    I hope you all enjoy using our website and I look forward to seeing how much further the website will continue to grow long after I have left my role!

  • Matt Hodgett
    Matt Hodgett
    Caretaker

    I have worked at DYA since 2014. My role is the cleaning and maintenance of the Routes and Headquarter premises and grounds. As we hire out both the Main Hall and Seaton Room at the Headquarters I am aware of the need to keeping the building and grounds in good order, ensuring a safe and pleasant environment for everyone using our facilities. Through other similar roles I have experience and am appropriately qualified in food hygiene and health and safety

    My background is in engineering and having gained an Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Portsmouth University. I have worked as a Civil Engineer and in Facilities Management, and enjoy the practical work of rebuilding a car, giving me many skills which I have been able to apply at DYA.

    I enjoy working as part of such a friendly and passionate team and like the variety of jobs associated with the position.