Ruth Allen, chief executive, British Association of Social Workers

Dr Ruth Allen became chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) in April 2016. Previously to that she was director of social work at South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust and also had a research role with St George’s University of London.

She has a particular interest and experience in leadership development in social work and in developing social work’s role within mental health.

Dr Allen holds a master's degree in social work and a professional doctorate in education, both awarded by the University of Sussex.

Paul Angeli, assistant director of children’s social care & youth inclusion, London Borough of Merton

Carol Baxter, quality practice manager and strengths-based practice coach – adults and communities, London Borough of Barnet

Anna Bouch, professional education consultant, South Coast Regional Centre for Social Work Education

Steve Broach, barrister, Monckton Chambers

Steve practices across a broad spectrum of public law, advising and representing individuals, charities, companies and public authorities. He has particular interest and expertise in health, education and social care, with a focus on disability and children’s rights cases. He has appeared in many of the Supreme Court cases on disability issues, either acting alone or as junior counsel. Before coming to the Bar, he worked extensively in the voluntary sector on behalf of disabled children and adults.

Steve is co-author of Disabled Children: A Legal Handbook (Legal Action Group, Second Edition, 2016) and Children in Need: Local Authority Support for Children and Families (Legal Action Group, Second Edition, 2013).

Gillian Buchannan, principal social worker, West Sussex County Council

James Bullion, director of adult social services, Norfolk County Council

Stephen Chandler, director of adult social services, Somerset County Council

Sue Cook, lecturer in social work, Plymouth University

Judy Cooper, editor, Community Care

Elaine Dibben, adoption development consultant, CoramBAAF

Elaine Dibben started her social work career in residential social work and qualified in 1988. She has 30 years’ experience of working in adoption and fostering in local authority and voluntary adoption agency settings. She joined BAAF in 2004 to become manager of the Independent Review Mechanism, which she set up and ran until 2009, when she moved to take on a wider role in BAAF as a trainer/consultant.

She is currently an adoption development consultant for CoramBAAF, alongside acting as a panel chair for both adoption and fostering panels. She currently sits on the National Recruitment and Matching Forum, a sub-group of the Adoption Leadership Board, and the Early Permanence Working Group established by the Department for Education in 2016. She has written several books and good practice guides published by BAAF/ CoramBAAF: The Role of Fostering for Adoption in Achieving Early Permanence for Children (2017) and Adoption by Foster Carers (2016) with Viv Howorth, Completing a Child’s Permanence Report (2014), Devising a Placement Plan (2012), Parent and Child Fostering, with Paul Adams (2011), Preparing to Adopt (2014), with Eileen Fursland and Nicky Probert and Undertaking an Adoption Assessment in England (2010) (third edition 2017).

Dr Karen Dodd, associate director, services for people with learning disabilities, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Morag Duff, independent specialist continuing healthcare consultant

Morag Duff previously worked as a solicitor in the social care sector. She is now an independent specialist continuing healthcare (CHC) consultant providing training and advice to local authorities and health authorities. She has been an active member of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services national reference group on CHC since 2008 and has been involved in Department of Health consultations on the CHC national framework and the Care Act.

Peter Feldon, independent social work trainer

Peter is a freelance Care Act consultant and trainer. He has a background of working in many sectors of social care as a social worker, trainer, manager and policy developer. He was a member of the team that developed learning materials on the Care Act for Skills for Care, and has provided Care Act training for local authorities and for the British Association of Social Workers. He is an active member of BASW and was previously a member of the board of Skills for Care (November 2012 - November 2014). He is the author of the Social Worker’s Guide to the Care Act 2014 (Critical Publishing).

Dr Jo Finch, reader in social work and deputy director, Centre for Social Work Research, University of East London

Anna Glinski, practice improvement advisor (social work), Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse

Sarah Goff, development manager – safeguarding disabled children services, Ann Craft Trust

Louise Grant, senior lecturer in social work, University of Bedfordshire

Sarah Hatton, social worker, West Sussex County Council

Sara Kirkpatrick, services development manager, Respect

Dr Gail Kinman, professor of occupational health psychology, University of Bedfordshire

Nageena Khalique QC, barrister, No 5 Chambers

Dr Barbara McKay, director, the Institute of Family Therapy

Barbara has been the director of the Institute of Family Therapy since 2006. Prior to this she was head of training for a national voluntary sector organization where she developed a new national family counselling service. Barbara qualified as a social worker in 1982 and has worked in both adults’ and children’s services, including in mental health fields. She worked briefly in the probation service.

Barbara qualified as a systemic psychotherapist in 1997 and a systemic supervisor in 2001. She completed her professional doctorate in 2014.

Her current interest lies in the application of systemic practices in organisational change and development and to this end has created a range of courses relevant to strategic teams. She continues to work in private practice offering therapy, consultation and supervision services.

Emilie Martin, operations manager for anti-trafficking and modern slavery operations service, The Salvation Army

Oliver Millington, barrister, 9 Gough Square chambers

The focus of Oliver's family practice is on public law proceedings in which he represents local authorities, parents, extended family members, prospective adopters and children via their guardians. He is regularly instructed in cases concerning serious non-accidental injury, sexual abuse and complex mental health issues, as well as general neglect cases Oliver is ranked as a leading junior for children law in both The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. He is a contributing author to The PLO Explained, a practitioners’ handbook to the Public Law Outline published by 9 Gough Square and regularly gives seminars as well as practical court training to lawyers and social workers. In 2018, he was appointed as a Recorder of the Family Court on the Wales Circuit.

JJ Nadicksbernd, national lead facilitator, Difficult Conversations

Neil Revely, co-chair, ADASS Housing Policy Network

Roana Roach, training manager, CoramBAAF

Jackie Ryan, professional education consultant, South Coast Regional Centre for Social Work Education

Alex Ruck Keene, barrister, 39 Essex Street

Alex is a barrister at 39 Essex Chambers in London, and recommended as a ‘star junior’ in Chambers & Partners for his Court of Protection work. He has been in cases involving the MCA 2005 at all levels up to and including the Supreme Court. He also writes extensively, has numerous academic affiliations, including as Wellcome Research Fellow at King’s College London, and has his own website www.mentalcapacitylawandpolicy.org.uk on which he publishes news and blogs on MCA law and policy.

Shefali Shah, director and lead trainer, Kingsley Knight Training

Kingsley Knight offers specialist legal training for social workers, foster carers, adoption and fostering panel members and multi-agency professionals across the UK. Shefali Shah has over 21 years’ experience in children’s social care law, including 17 as a solicitor and manager in various local authorities. Shefali was formerly legal adviser to Adoption UK and to the Independent Review Mechanism. Shefali also has experience teaching children’s law academically on social service degree, undergraduate law and postgraduate legal practice courses.

Shefali is author of Key Changes of Family Justice, published by CoramBAAF.

Dr Jenifer Wakelyn, lead child and adolescent psychotherapist and deputy manager, First Step

Andy Watson, artistic director/CEO, Geese Theatre Company

Martina Weilandt, clinical social worker, First Step

Miriam Williams, social worker, West Sussex County Council

Nadine Tilbury, policy office and senior research associate, University of Bristol