IT'S not just any donation.

It's a donation that will help a local charity with its work supporting parents with learning disabilities to cope with court proceedings and parenting assessments.

The Dorchester branch of Marks & Spencer has shown its support for Dorset Advocacy with a donation of £833.

An advocate is a trained professional, who is there to support parents whose ability to look after their children is being questioned by social services. The charity says children are the top priority, but this can leave parents bewildered and unsupported, with many appointments, assessments and many professional people in their lives, sometimes very suddenly.

Some parents do not know why their ability is being challenged, for example if they do not understand what ‘neglect’ actually is. In order to build their skills and look after their children differently they need support.

Dorset Advocacy’s team works with parents, sometimes for many weeks, helping them to take part in parenting assessments and long, stressful court hearings.

One advocate said: "I often go to see the solicitor with parents, and then the solicitor will send the court papers to me, sometimes there is a massive bundle.

"Many of the parents who I work with cannot read, so I will talk through the papers with them, make sure that important dates are in their diary, and that they can get to their appointments and hearings."

Dorset Advocacy says it is very committed to continuing with this important and essential work as there are very few other services helping vulnerable parents through these very stressful and potentially life-changing situations.

The charity says it would like to thank the staff and customers of Marks and Spencers for their fundraising efforts, which will help to ensure that its advocacy services will continue to help vulnerable people across Dorset.

For more information about Dorset Advocacy visit