View below the list of speakers from the 2021 Community Care Live. We will update this page with details of speakers for future events in due course. 

If you would like to keep up to date with the latest news and information please sign up to our e-newsletters here.
Morag Duff, independent specialist continuing healthcare consultant

Morag Duff is a former solicitor who currently works as a freelance specialist CHC consultant. She has worked within the field of NHS continuing healthcare for over 10 years providing specialist advice and training for both health and social care organisations Morag is passionate about ensuring the individual is always at the heart of the assessment and care delivery process. In order to achieve this, she believes that partner organisations across health and social care must develop and nurture long-lasting and trusting relationships. This can only be achieved through a shared understanding and acceptance of the principles that underpin the National Framework as well as the processes that are set out in that guidance. Morag has worked closely with ADASS, the Department of Health and NHS England over the years, and was recently involved in the current revision of the National Framework, due to be implemented in October 2018.

Alex Ruck Keene, barrister, 39 Essex Chambers

Alex Ruck Keene is an experienced barrister, writer and educator. His practice at 39 Essex Chambers in London is focused on mental capacity and mental health law, providing specialist advice and representation, as well as delivering expert training for front line professionals. He also writes extensively in the field, editing and contributing to leading textbooks and (amongst many other publications) the 39 Essex Chambers Mental Capacity Law Report, the ‘bible’ for solicitors (and others) working in the area. He is the creator of the website http://www.mentalcapacitylawandpolicy.org.uk/, providing resources and expert commentary on some of the most difficult mental capacity issues.

Alex is a Wellcome Research Fellow and Visiting Professor at King’s College London, a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London and a Research Affiliate at the Essex Autonomy Project, University of Essex. He spent 2016 on secondment to the Law Commission of England & Wales as a consultant to their Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty Project and throughout 2018 was legal adviser to the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983. In 2020-1, he was a special adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights for their inquiry into the human rights implications of the Government’s response to COVID-19.

Phil Watson, director of children's social care, Norfolk County Council

Phil Watson is the Director of Children’s Social Care at Norfolk County Council. Phil qualified as a social worker and manager at post graduate level and holds considerable senior management and leadership experience within Local Government Children’s Services and Children’s Social Care. He has a track record of delivering sustained improvement in performance and outcomes for children, young people and families. Phil is also co-chair of the Eastern Region sector led improvement network, associate member of ADCS and representative on ADCS Workforce Development Committee.

Hayley Griffin, assistant director, children's social care, Norfolk County Council

Bio coming soon!

William Dean, barrister, 9 Gough Chambers

William Dean’s family law practice almost exclusively comprises public law proceedings. He acts for local authorities, guardians and parents as well as separately-represented children and intervenors. He routinely represents parties from initial hearings through to multi-day final hearings.

He acts in applications for involving care and supervision orders, as well as adoptions, secure detention and/or the deprivation of liberty safeguards and more specialist work such as applications for FGM protection orders and the administration of medication.

William is often instructed for hearings with legal arguments on discrete issues, such as designation of public law orders, leave to oppose applications for adoption orders and placement abroad.

William often lectures and presents seminars on areas within his practice, including on legal and practical developments.

Elmari Bishop, adult safeguarding and legal intervention manager, Thurrock Council

Elmari Bishop is a consultant social worker and lecturer practitioner. Her specialist areas include the Mental Capacity Act (MCA), Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), Mental Health Act, Safeguarding and the Human Rights Act, as well as the interface between these areas. Elmari provides consultancy and training around these areas.

Elmari is currently the Safeguarding and Legal Intervention Lead for Thurrock Council and maintains links at national level as the MCA/DOLS Lead for the Mental Health Alliance. Elmari is also a member of the MCA/DoLS regional implementation network in the East of England and leads on BIA refresher training in this geographical area. She has many years of experience in the field of adult mental health as a qualified approved mental health practitioner and in working as the MCA/DoLS lead for a large NHS organisation. Elmari continues to practise as a BIA.

Paul Shallcross, head of service - quality assurance, and principal child and family social worker, Somerset County Council

Paul qualified as a social worker in 2000, following a formative experience working in residential care. Paul worked in Leeds and Bristol prior to joining Somerset in 2009, where he has held a number of roles within the county. A strong proponent of systemic, strengths based relational approaches, Paul has led on developing a Practice Framework which is based around these approaches, as well as a focus on the behaviours which support the development of high quality social work practice. Paul is passionate about giving families the tools and support they need to provide the best care they can for their own children, in their own communities.

Colum Conway, chief executive, Social Work England

Colum became chief executive of Social Work England in September 2018. He is a registered social worker and previously led the professional regulator for social work and social care in Northern Ireland from 2013 to 2018. Prior to this, Colum spent six years as chief executive of a large not-for-profit organisation providing care services in all programmes of care across both jurisdictions in Ireland. Colum has worked in statutory family and child care services, early years policy, funding and service provision, and family systems support services in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Sarah Blackmore, executive director of standards, Social Work England

Sarah is the executive director of standards and qualified as a social worker from Trinity College Dublin in 1997. Since then, she has worked in a variety of national and international contexts, from frontline practice in Dublin, to working with street children and ex-child soldiers in Sierra Leone during the civil war, to managing services for children and families in the UK. Sarah has worked across statutory, voluntary and regulatory services. Before joining Social Work England, she spent six years in Scotland, where she was deputy director of inspection with the Scottish social care regulator, and executive director of delivery and development for a large mental health charity.

Tim Spencer-Lane, lawyer specialising in mental capacity, mental health and social care law

Tim is a lawyer who specialises in mental capacity, mental health and social care law.

At the Law Commission, Tim was responsible for the review of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which formed the basis of the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019. Tim was also in charge of the Law Commission’s reviews of the regulation of health and social care professionals and adult social care (which led to the Care Act 2014).

He now works for the Government Legal Department (Department of Health and Social Care) where he advises on mental capacity and mental health law.

Tim is the author of the "Care Act Manual" (third edition 2019, Sweet and Maxwell), joint author of “the Approved Mental health Professional Practice Handbook” (2020, Policy Press), General Editor of the Encyclopedia of Social Services and Child Care Law, and contributes to Cross on Local Government Law.

He is the legal editor of Community Care Inform (Adults) and a senior lecturer at Kingston University where he teaches on the best interests assessor and adult safeguarding courses.

Pauline Morris, head of engagement, safeguarding and quality assurance, London Borough of Haringey

Sophie Gilbert, Practice Academy Manager and NAAS coordinator, Birmingham Children's Trust

Jan Williams, team manager - Essex Social Care Academy, Essex County Council

Delia Mann, head of service, family solutions plus (central), Oxfordshire County Council

I am a New Zealander by birth and travelled to the UK after completing an undergraduate degree in English, Anthropology and Sociology in 1994. I trained as a social worker in 1997 at Goldsmith College, University of London.

I have worked in a variety of settings including an inner London borough as a senior practitioner, within a child psychiatric inpatient unit , in management in the residential sector and led two Children’s Centres prior to returning to statutory social work in Oxfordshire. I am currently the Head of Service for Family Solutions Plus in central Oxford and the Head of Service for Early Help Services in Oxfordshire.

I am passionate about high quality social work and delivering effective services to children and their families.  I have strived throughout my career to develop effective interventions that make material difference to children’s lives and support practitioners to be creative and innovate in their practice.

Covid has been a truly testing time for all and to launch a new model in its midst has been one of the most challenging but inspiring parts of my career to date. I am looking forward to presenting our reflections on leadership during this turbulent period and how we remained close to our core social work values.

Annelies Henshall, principal social worker, children's social care, Oxfordshire County Council

I’ve worked for Oxfordshire County Council for over 20 years in a variety of roles across children’s services, after completing an undergraduate degree in psychology. I’ve worked with children with autism in schools, provided domiciliary care and behaviour support to disabled children and studied for a masters in special educational needs and inclusion.

Throughout the years Oxfordshire has supported my career development which led me into management within our early intervention service and subsequently onto qualifying as a social worker. From here I worked in our statutory family solutions service before moving onto my current role as principal social worker for children and families.

I love working for children’s services at Oxfordshire County Council. I work with fantastic people who share the same values, passion, innovation and motivation for our work with children and families. I am passionate about the importance of building relationships and providing the best environment for practitioners to thrive and to enable us all to provide the best for the children and families of Oxfordshire.

Laura Clements, head of service, family solutions plus (north & south), Oxfordshire County Council

I qualified as a social worker twenty five years ago after completing a post-graduate diploma in social work at Goldsmiths College, University of London. I have worked with children and families in need of help and protection throughout my career.

I started working as a social worker in London and worked in a range of settings, joining one of the first child and family assessment teams in the country after a few years of practice.

I quickly developed a keen interest in safeguarding, working with children who had suffered neglect or abuse, and spent some time working closely with mothers who had fabricated and induced illness in their children.

I am a Practice Educator and have enjoyed supporting and assessing student social workers preparing for practice; I have also worked as a Lecturer to adult students of social work, teaching modules on law, legislation and practice. I have led teams of newly qualified social workers undertaking their Assessed & Supported Year in Employment and developed an ASYE Academy in an east London children’s social care division. I really enjoy delivering training to newly qualified social workers at our ASYE Academy in my current role as a Head of Service in Oxfordshire.

I love learning and teaching and have worked as a trainer throughout my career, delivering training on safeguarding, assessing, domestic abuse and anti-oppressive & anti-discriminatory practice.

I have always been passionate about making statutory and legal processes meaningful to families and was directly involved in the development of pre-proceedings processes that were accessible and helpful to parents and carers when the Public Law Outline was introduced.

Having worked as a senior manager in children’s social care for several years, I have developed and led a range of frontline services including multi-agency safeguarding hubs, assessment services, long- term statutory safeguarding teams, children in care and care leaving services and independent assessment services

I am very excited about the changes we’re making in Oxfordshire by implementing our Family Solutions Plus model – this practice model promotes restorative, relationship-based work with children, young people and families, with motivational interviewing at its heart, and specialist adult workers in our teams to help parents make and sustain the changes they need to care for their children independently.    

Dr Kish Bhatti-Sinclair, reader in social policy and social work

Kish is known for shaping the debates on black perspectives and de-colonising social work practice.   Kish’s research includes the development of methodologies sensitive to the needs of black and minority ethnic populations, and theories, such as modern racism testing discriminatory attitudes and behaviours.  Kish has undertaken quantitative analysis of case data from the USA and produced evaluation reports for local authorities.  Her work on child sexual exploitation critiques hard to reach children and perpetrator profiles. Kish’s book projects include: Anti-Racist Practice in Social Work (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) which examines attitudes and behaviours in relation to law, policy and practice on race equality.  Diversity, Difference and Dilemmas (OUP/McGraw Hill, 2017) examines, for example, the disproportionate attention paid to immigrants and terrorists in populist policy and media reporting. 



Professor Kish Bhatti-Sinclair

Head of Social Work and Social Care




Bhatti-Sinclair, K. (2021) Unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young refugees – children and young people alone in the UK in a pandemic in Turner, D. (Editor), Social Work and Covid-19: lessons for education and practice, Critical Publishing, ISBN: 9781913453619, pp. 23-33.


Bhatti-Sinclair, K. and Sutcliffe, C. (2020) Group Localised Child Sexual Exploitation Offender,Who and Why, Seen and Heard, the Journal of the National Association for Children’s Guardians, Family Court Advisers and Independent Social Workers, Vol. 30, Issue 4, pp 51-68..


Bhatti-Sinclair, K. and Sutcliffe, C. (2019), Normative and Positive Social Work in the Context of the Placement Decision: A Defence of Social Workers, Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 20(2), pp 77-94, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1921/swssr.v20i2.1260.


Bhatti-Sinclair, K. and Smethurst, C. (2018) Understanding Group Localised Child Sexual Exploitation, Seen and Heard, the Journal of the National Association for Children’s Guardians, Family Court Advisers and Independent Social Workers, Vol. 28, Issue 4, October 2018, ISSN 1744-1072.


Bhatti-Sinclair, K. and Smethurst, C. (Eds.) (2017), Diversity, Difference and Professional Dilemmas: Developing Skills in Challenging Times, Open University Press/McGraw Hill, ISBN: 9780335261826.


Bhatti-Sinclair, K. (2011), Anti-Racist Practice in Social Work, Palgrave/Macmillan, ISBN: 978-0-230-01307-0.


Vanessa Hodge, principal social worker for adults, Somerset County Council

Vanessa Hodge is the principal social worker for adults at Somerset County Council.

Prior to working in local government, she worked in a women's refuge, a supported living project for people with enduring mental health needs and a mother and baby unit.

Since qualifying as a social worker, she has worked in community adult social care, an acute hospital and adult safeguarding. She can be found on Twitter @VanessaHodge

Lori Goossen, principal children and families social worker, Medway Council

Lori has been a social worker for 25+ years and has practised social work in Canada, the US and the UK. She is currently the principal child and families social worker for Medway Council and has been delivering workshops on secondary trauma for more than eight years.

Paul McGee, principal child and family social worker, head, Essex Social Care Academy and qualified yoga instructor, Essex County Council

Maria Wright, senior legal adviser, Children and Families Across Borders

Maria Wright is a senior legal advisor to CFAB. She is a solicitor with a particular expertise in children’s law with an international element. She is also a doctoral researcher with the University of Bristol, currently completing research into care proceedings with an international element.

Maria has also published widely on children’s law with an international element. She is the co-author of a leading practitioner’s text, ‘International Issues in Family Law The 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Brussels IIa’ (2015 Jordans). Maria has also published extensively on the use of Special Guardianship in care proceedings with an international element, transfers of jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of orders and the protection of children where jurisdiction is in issue. She regularly delivers training and lectures on care proceedings with an international dimension to a wide variety of professionals.

Laura Hanbury, clinician and PhD research student, Royal Holloway University

Laura Hanbury is a clinician and PhD research student at Royal Holloway University. Her current PhD research focuses on the behaviours of adolescents who are looked after, alongside the attachment organisation of foster carers and how it affects the way they may perceive and respond to the children that they care for. Having worked in the field of family support and child protection for over 15 years, she also works as an independent lecturer, author and trainer, specialising in the analysis of family dynamics and behavioural responses through the lens of attachment theory and research. Laura’s overall work is centred around the study of how behaviour develops in the context of experienced attachment trauma.

Claire Bates, honorary research associate, Tizard Centre

Dr Claire Bates is the leader of Supported Loving, a national network that believes people with learning disabilities and/or autism should be able to enjoy the same sexual and romantic freedoms as everyone else. Claire is also a researcher at the Tizard Centre, conducting research into sexuality and relationships.

Rachael Wardell, incoming executive director of children, families and lifelong learning, Surrey County Council

Rachael will take up post as executive director of children, families and lifelong learning at Surrey County Council in early December. She is currently director of children, schools and families at the London Borough of Merton and was previously director of children's and adults' services at West Berkshire Council.

Caroline Lynch, principal legal adviser, Family Rights Group

Caroline is the Principal Legal Adviser at Family Rights Group (FRG) and has specialised in children’s public law for over 15 years. She takes a leading role in FRG’s work in influencing child welfare law, policy and the family justice system. Caroline is responsible for FRG’s strategic litigation activity and oversees the development of legal briefings and materials for the charity’s advice & advocacy service including those concerning kinship care. Caroline brings legal and social research experience to FRG’s project work, contributing to the design and delivery of action research, inquiries and reviews including the 2018 Care Crisis Review. Caroline has been a member of the President’s Public Law Working Group since 2018.

Caroline was called to the Bar in 2003. She practised for several years from chambers representing families, children and local authorities in public law proceedings. Caroline also spent four years working as an in-house advocate within a busy children’s legal team in a local authority. She has a keen interest in childhood, family and children’s rights and has a background in conducting research in those fields. She is a lay member of the Research Ethics and Integrity Committee at the University of Sussex.

Arianna Kelly, barrister, 39 Essex Chambers

Arianna Kelly is a barrister at 39 Essex Chambers with a specialist practice in mental capacity, community care and mental health law and inquests. She is ranked as a leading junior in the Court of Protection by Chambers and Partners, and as a ‘Rising Star’ in Administrative and Public Law in the Legal 500, which described her as having: ‘Outstanding knowledge of the Care Act.’

Arianna works extensively in the field of community care. She frequently advises in and undertakes judicial review work in relation to eligibility and care planning decisions, community care charging and debt recovery, safeguarding investigations, ordinary residence determinations and decisions to de-register approved providers, age assessments and allowances to special guardians. She also advises public authorities on policies relating to health and social care.  Arianna acts in a range Court of Protection matters including welfare, property and affairs, serious medical treatment. Arianna also regularly acts and advises in matters relating to the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. Arianna is on both the Attorney General’s Regional Panel and the Equality and Human Rights Commission Panel of counsel. Arianna is a member of the National Committee for the Court of Protection Practitioners Association.


Nadine Wesslowski, inter-country social worker, Children and Families Across Borders

Nadine Wesslowski is an inter-country social worker at CFAB originally having qualified as a social worker in Germany.

She manages complex cases concerning the assessment of kinship carers and the possible overseas placement of children with their family members overseas as well as safeguarding children when they move between countries. She provides expert advice to queries to the CFAB Advice line requiring international social work intervention. Nadine has been project manager for the London Children’s Project with the aim of raising awareness of international elements within social work and which identified the need for further training within the profession to better understand the complexities involved. She currently delivers regular “International Child Protections and Kinship Care Training.

Nadine has a background of working with unaccompanied asylum seeking children as well as working in the field of child protection, children in care and community work.

Millie Kerr, anti-racist lead practitioner, Brighton & Hove City Council

Millie has 27 years’ experience as a registered social worker, qualifying in 1994 at Ruskin college, Oxford and more recently, completing her MA in advanced professional practice in February 2021.

Developing anti-racist social work practice is an area of particular interest within her present
role and career objectives.

She has a wealth of experience in local authority statutory, health and voluntary sector settings, in London and South East England, addressing issues such as trafficking, CSE, forced marriage, honour-based abuse, physical abuse, and neglect.

She has additional experience in working with asylum seekers, families from Black African, Caribbean, and Asian diasporas and diverse communities living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Her work has highlighted the need for partnership working with voluntary sector organisations, health, education, police, and immigration professionals. As a team manager, Millie has led child asylum teams and leaving care teams; and in her role as children's services manager for the specialist FGM Centre at Barnardo’s, her role addressed harmful practices such as: FGM, child abuse linked to faith and belief, and breast ironing/flattening. 

She was managing director for an asylum seeker supported housing project, where she remains a trustee, before moving into her present role as anti-racist lead practitioner for Brighton and Hove Council.

Shantel Thomas, anti-racist lead, British Association of Social Workers

Shantel is one of BASW’s Anti-Racism Leads, a qualified social worker and Senior Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire (UH).  She also co-chairs the Black, Asian and Minoritised Staff Network and the Awarding Gap Strategy sub-group for the school of Health and Social Work (HSK) at UH. Her areas of research interest include student progression and attainment, diversifying the curriculum and racial equity across the profession. She also co-founded and successfully runs UH’s first Black Student Empowerment Group (BSEG) in Social Work. Shantel spent over 10 years in practice and focused on exploring and understanding the impact of adverse childhood experiences on vulnerable children from marginalised communities and reframing the way we work with them. She uses her position, passion, personal and professional ‘living’ experience of racism and oppression to be the voice for the ‘unheard’ and to represent the needs of her community using a strength-based lens.  She published a chapter with Prof. Claudia Bernard entitled ‘Risk and Safety: a strength-based perspective in working with black families when there are safeguarding concerns’ in Social Work in a Diverse Society: Transformative practice with black and ethnic minority individual and communities edited by Charlotte Williams and Mekeda Graham and contributed her practice knowledge to Safeguarding Black Children edited by Claudia Bernard and Perlita Harris.  Follow her on twitter @ShantelThomas77 and Instagram @basw_anti_racism_lead.

Ahmina Akhtar, head of equality, diversity and inclusion, Social Work England

Ahmina qualified as a social worker in 2008, completed an MA in Integrated Practice in 2017 and is a qualified trainer and coach. She joined Social Work England in 2019 as the regional engagement lead for Yorkshire and the Humber. She previously worked as a senior practitioner at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Prior to this she worked for Changing Faces and was pivotal in setting up the first localised support centre outside of London in Sheffield. She established various support clinics throughout Yorkshire and the Humber to offer tailored support to individuals affected by disfigurement. She has worked in a range of educational, community, voluntary and health settings and is also on several boards.

Farrah Khan, co-chair, Principal Children and Families Social Worker Network

Lyn Romeo, chief social worker for adults, Department of Health and Social Care

Lyn Romeo took up her post as Chief Social Worker for Adults in September 2013.

Previously, Lyn worked as the Assistant Director for Adult Social Care in the London Borough of Camden. She has also worked as an inspector with the Social Services Inspectorate, as well as working in Yorkshire for over 20 years as both a field social worker and in a variety of management roles across children and adults.

Chief Social Worker for adults

The Chief Social Worker for Adults works collaboratively with the Chief Social Worker for Children and Families. Together they work from the Office of the Chief Social Worker to:

  • support and challenge the profession to ensure that children and adults get the best possible help from social workers
  • provide independent expert advice to ministers on social work reform, and the contribution of social work and social workers to policy implementation more generally
  • provide leadership and work with key leaders in the profession and wider sector to drive forward the improvement and reform programme for social work
  • challenge weak practice to achieve decisive improvements in the quality of social work
  • provide leadership to the network of principal social workers

Isabelle Trowler, chief social worker for children and families, Department for Education

Since qualifying as a social worker in 1996 from the London School of Economics, Isabelle has worked within the voluntary, statutory and private sectors both in education and social care settings, in a variety of practice and senior leadership roles. She is well known for co-designing a new practice model for delivering child and family social work, which has had an enduring influence on the children's social care practice system across the UK. Isabelle took up the role as the government's first Chief Social Worker for England (Children & Families) in 2013. Since then, she has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the government's strategy for the reform for Children's Social Care. She a member of the National Panel for Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews and the National Stability Forum. She also sits on the Ministerial led Family Justice Board and the Partners in Practice Governance Board. 

Ruth Allen, chief executive, British Association of Social Workers

Dr Ruth Allen has been Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) since April 2016.  She is registered social worker, qualifying in 1994. Previous roles include Director of Social Work at South West London & St Georges' Mental Health NHS Trust, researcher with St George’s University of London fon mental health and domestic violence and Head of Social Care Hertfordshire Mental Health Trust. She started her social work career in East London in health, social care and homelessness services.

She has experience in organisational consultancy, professional and leadership development particularly in social work, integration and mental health.
Dr Allen also has a particular interest and experience in personalisation and co-production with people using services, family members and carers. She is currently providing social work expertise in the new healthcare  Personalised Care Institute.

Dr Allen holds a BA (Hons) Degree in Geography, a CQSW and Master's degree in Social Work and a Professional Doctorate in Education, from the University of Sussex. 


Luke Rodgers, director of strategy, The Care Leaders

As a lived experience leader, Luke has a passion for and expertise in creating projects that benefit the lives of care experienced people, ensuring their experience is at the heart of all projects and training facilitated by The Care Leaders.

By understanding and giving a voice to lived experience, we gain the knowledge to develop our services to best serve young people. This is a translation process, where stories are turned into strategies, ensuring children’s social care is developed from the lives of the people who have experienced it.

As founder of The Care Leaders, Luke has led work in the USA, Europe and nationally in the UK, working with leading organisations in the children’s sector including The Fostering Network, University of Oxford’s Rees Centre, a wide range of Local Authorities, Fostering Agencies and The Department for Education.

Luke has won recognition for his work that includes ‘Entrepreneur of Excellence’ in 2015 from the National Diversity Awards, the ’Young Social Entrepreneur Award’ in 2014 from Unltd and ‘Children’s Achievement Award’ in 2013 from Children and Young People Now.

Luke’s commitment to improving outcomes for young people and families was recognised through the award of the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List and in 2020 he was invited to be a Fellow at the Saïd Business School, Skoll Centre for Social Enterprise at the University of Oxford.

Dr Natasha Sabin, practice improvement advisor, Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse

Natasha is a Forensic Psychologist with professional experience in child sexual abuse. She has worked within Youth Justice as a practitioner and manager specialising in harmful sexual behaviour. Natasha has also had roles within secure hospitals and custodial environments where she has predominantly worked with adult males who have committed sexual offences. Natasha is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Birmingham, facilitating teaching sessions to Forensic and Clinical Psychologists in training.

Marie Price, senior lecturer in social work, University of Chichester

Qualified in social work, counselling and supervision I have spent most of my career working with, researching or writing about loss, death and bereavement.

When I first qualified as a social worker and worked with children, especially through fostering and adoption, I realised that loss was something that accompanied every area of life. Even when the situation appeared joyful or longed for. None more so than when working in various hospices in England and Wales and supporting people facing the ultimate loss – the loss of their own lives. Following that I was then continuing to provide care for their loved ones, after their death, and witnessing the very different approaches to dealing with bereavement.

More recently, and through the pandemic, I have worked on a project with my local hospice on supporting teachers and other school staff to support the children they teach. Helping them to manage their losses and bereavements while also managing their own feelings of uncertainty and loss. Alongside this I wrote a chapter for Social Work and Covid 19 where I talk about the support that we all need when dealing with loss and bereavement especially through the provision of supervision.

Dr Andrea Warman, social care research, policy & development consultant

Dr Andrea Warman trained as a children’s social worker, specialising in work with haemophiliacs and their families, and later helping to establish the first multi-disciplinary service offering confidential pre and post HIV counselling in England.

She returned to study social anthropology at LSE, and completed a PhD using ethnographic research in Havana, Cuba to explore the relationship between the State and family life through women’s experiences as mothers, workers and revolutionaries and their life stories.

On return to the UK, she taught social policy and social work in universities before spending 6 years as the Fostering Development Consultant for the British Association of Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) where her interest in fostering grew. Project work there led to a focus on the therapeutic role food can play in fostering households, and she has written and published on this theme, using carers’ stories from the UK and beyond. She also had opportunities to become involved in international work, and she visited Fostering Services and took part in conferences and events in Spain and Sweden. She presented at IFCO in Eire and New Zealand, and she worked with Japanese foster carers to produce a publication ahead of the Osaka conference in 2013.

She is now an independent consultant who was a member of the Adoption Diagnostics team, was Key Link Adviser for the ‘Southern’ local authorities piloting the DfE’s Adoption Support Fund and is now a NAAS assessor. Andrea Chairs Fostering Panels across the sector, and she has a special interest in adopter and foster carer wellbeing,  introducing yoga with practitioner Liz Lark to support carers’ emotional health. Their ideas were presented in Caring with Vitality, published by JKP in 2016. Most recently she has led a team of Assessors completing Form F and Special Guardianship reports. She will draw upon all of this experience, as well as her background in Social Anthropology to argue that we need a new approach to the assessment of foster carers.

Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales

Since her appointment to the role of designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales in September 2019, Nicole has begun energetically putting her 20 plus years of experience in domestic abuse policy and intervention to work, driving improvements to transform the response to domestic abuse in England and Wales. She is committed to championing victims and survivors of all ages, status, and backgrounds, and to shining a light on practises that fail them.  

Nicole began her career at the Alabama State Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the United States. In 1999, she came to London as an early worker at ADVANCE, one of the first advocacy (now DVA service) services in the UK. In 2000, she began working at Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, expanding the coordinated community response efforts into health settings. Before becoming CEO of Standing Together in 2013, she held a number of senior leadership positions at highly respected organizations, including Special Projects Director at SafeLives, and Senior Operations Manager at Refuge.

Alison Duguid, lead for pre-birth-19, Essex County Council

I have worked as a manager in the public sector for the past 18 years, for both Southend Borough Council and Essex County Council, always in early intervention and prevention within children and families' directorates. I have been fortunate to have experiences of both commissioning and delivery of early intervention services and am currently in my third stint of working as part of the management team of the Essex Children & Families Hub. I am currently undertaking a research project regarding the barriers to early help with Anglia Ruskin University as part of a management degree, and in my spare time volunteer at a local soup kitchen in Southend where I live.

Becky Lowes, Children & Families Hub team manager, Essex County Council

I qualified as a Social Worker in 2009 and have worked within Children’s Social Care Services since 2004. Throughout my Social Work career I have worked both in the Statutory Sector across both Suffolk and Essex and within the Charity Sector. Within statutory services I have practiced in variety of teams across the whole of the child’s journey, including Initial Assessment and Intervention, Children In Care and Adoption and Fostering. I became a Tea Manger in 2015 and have managed a range of teams including front line Child Protection teams, Adoption teams  and Fostering Recruitment. In 2018 I moved to Essex Children’s Social Care Services and I am currently a Team Manager within the Children and Families Hub, the front door to Essex Children’s Social Care,   as part of the Matrix Management Team.

Kelly Hierons, operational mental health team manager, Essex County Council

Catherine Harrison, service manager, mental health, Essex County Council

Peter Devlin, interim director for adult mental health services, Essex County Council

I am a qualified Social Worker, Approved Mental Health Professional with a post graduate Diploma in Psycho-Social Interventions and a degree in Mental Health. 

My professional history includes holding various positions across the local authority and in integrated multi-disciplinary mental health services. I started my career in 1998 as a frontline social worker and later progressed into managerial roles and, over the last four years, have held director level positions responsible for the delivery of mental health social care services as well as the commissioning of services. Throughout my career, I have continued to practise as an AMHP to help maintain a grounded perspective of the health and care systems.

I hold a deep passion and determination to contribute to the transformation agenda in mental health in a way that seeks to address inequalities, injustice, and places mental wellbeing on an equal standing with physical health. Central to this is collaboration and co-production with people with lived experience and their families to achieve real change.



Anna Littlewood, deputy director, adult and health operations, Somerset County Council

Anna Littlewood is an experienced leader across health and care joining Somerset County Council as the deputy director of adults and health operations in September 2020. Anna moved into this role after working as a management consultant specialising in health and adult social care transformation. She is also an experienced acute hospital senior manager having been the deputy director of diagnostics and therapies for a large acute NHS trust. Anna brings a unique background and skill set into adult social care operations at a time of unprecedented demand across health and care systems.

Cassy Harrison, deputy lead safeguarding officer, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Cassy Harrison joined the Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) as the Deputy Lead Safeguarding Officer. She qualified as a Social Worker in 2002 and prior to working at the inquiry has undertaken a number of safeguarding roles both within the Statutory and Voluntary sectors, including working as an Independent Reviewing Officer, Child Protection Conference Chair and Local Authority Designated Officer. Laterly Cassy worked for the NSPCC as a Consultant Social Worker advising on safeguarding practice, quality assurance and inspection work. 

Cassy is passionate about the work of the Inquiry and how her role can support IICSA to meets it purpose to ensure that children get the care and protection from sexual abuse that they need and deserve, now and in the future.

Justine Skeats, lead safeguarding officer, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Justine Skeats is the Lead Safeguarding Officer for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. She qualified as a Social Worker in 1994 and prior to working at the inquiry has undertaken many safeguarding roles both within the Statutory and Voluntary sectors, including working as a social worker specialising in Child Protection and with Looked After Children. Justine worked for the NSPCC as a Service Manager managing a variety of therapeutic and advocacy services for children and families. Justine also volunteered for Voluntary Services Overseas and worked in East Africa for two years. 

Justine is passionate about the work of the Inquiry and how her role can support IICSA to meets it purpose to ensure that children get the care and protection from sexual abuse that they need and deserve, now and in the future.

Kim Sunley, national officer, health and safety unit , UNISON

Kim has worked in the field of occupational health and safety for over 30 years including work in the NHS, police, and retail sectors.  Since the late 90s she has held national roles in trade unions including the GMB, Society of Radiographers and the Royal College of Nursing. 

Her current role is National Officer for Health and Safety at UNISON, the UK’s largest union, serving more than 1.3 million members who provide public services.  

Kim represents UNISON on a number of national health and safety forums and is the staff side chair of the NHS Staff Council’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Partnership Group.

Kim is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Management.  She has a particular interest in improving the health and safety of women workers and in encouraging women and those from underrepresented groups to take up trade union safety representative roles.    

Kelly Hannah-Rogers, national officer, professional services unit, UNISON

Kelly has worked in the Trade Union movement for over 20 years, 12 years with public service trade union UNISON. She works in a specialised team in UNISON which provides advice, support and advocacy for UNISON members across a number of regulators including social worker members who are registered with Social Work England (SWE). A Social Worker who is referred or is considering self-referral to the regulator is fully supported by UNISON through what can be a stressful process. From representing social workers Kelly has gained first-hand insight into some of the many pressures they face such as increasing workloads, redundancy, restructures, shared service and outsourcing.

Kelly also work directly with SWE influencing policy and process on behalf of UNISON social worker members. Her enthusiasm for her role derives from empowering working people to take control of their working lives.

Amy Harries, social worker, DBIT, Essex County Council

I have five years’ experience working in the DBIT Connecting & Uniting Families team in Essex County Council where I have supported young people in the care system to rebuild stronger relationships with their families and, where possible, to be reunified home. I enjoy working with the whole family and finding ways to help them achieve their hopes, better communicate with one another, deal with challenges and have fun together.

I have also worked in a child protection team with children and young people on child in need and child protection plans. I trained to be a social worker through the Frontline programme, which introduced me to systemic practice and I am passionate about using this approach in my work with families. I have recently completed a diploma in solution-focused Practice.

I’m a wife and mum of two little ones.

Sian Tokeley, social worker, DBIT, Essex County Council

I have worked as a social worker for five years, during this time I have had the opportunity to work within several different teams and develop my skills.  I initially started working in a family support and protection Team, which provided me with good insight into the experiences of children within our local authority. I was also able to undertake therapeutic work with children within this team and completed several assessments.

I then started to work within DBIT connecting and uniting families team. I was keen to join this team due to the therapeutic approach taken and the opportunities for growth and development this team offered. Within this team we would practise systemically, while remaining solution-focused and trauma-informed.

Following this I worked as a senior practitioner in the adoption assessment team, which increased my knowledge of therapeutic support and therapeutic parenting, alongside different assessment models. Finally, I returned to my old team, DBIT connecting and uniting families, as the team allows me to work therapeutically with families, which I enjoy, and gives me the space and time to look at a situation from many different lenses to promote a positive outcome for families and young people.

Zoe Houchin, senior practitioner, DBIT, Essex County Council

I have worked in the DBIT Connecting and Uniting Team since it first started in Essex, back five years ago. During this early stage we spent time talking through how we could best work with families who had been disconnected from one another, sometimes for significant periods. The young people we with work, will have come into the care of the local authority for any number of reasons. Where appropriate, we support to reform, rebuild, or sometimes create completely new relationships between these young people and their birth families. Since these early days, my passion and our way of working has continued to grow, with every family we work with we learn something new. I enjoy working with the whole family, the sessions we have not only provide a safe space to build on communication, discuss hopes and challenges but it also feels a privilege to be a part of.

Prior to working in this this team, I spent two years working in a Child Protection Team covering some of the most deprived areas of the country including Jaywick, Clacton and Harwich. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity and the experiences and lessons it provided me with.

Jessica Knight, social worker, DBIT, Essex County Council

I qualified as a social worker in 2017 and I currently work within the DBIT connecting & uniting families team (under 10s). I have been in this role since the team started back in October 2018. Prior to this I worked for the children in care team. I am passionate about supporting children and young people returning home from care, I particularly enjoy carrying out direct work – the more playful and messier the better.

Calum Whiter, social worker, DBIT, Essex County Council

I am a social worker working for Essex County Council and have worked for Essex since I qualified with my BA honours in Social Work in 2015. I have worked for Essex for nearly 6 years across several different teams and services. Currently, I am working in the DBIT Connecting and Uniting Families Team supporting reunification plans and connecting work (supporting to build and improve significant relationships for children and their families). Prior to this I worked in a Children in Care Team, and Adult Social Care services.  I was inspired to become a social worker through the experiences of being in a family that fosters and wanting to be part of making meaningful change for people, particularly children.

Amber James, head of resource and partnerships, Hampshire County Council

Having joined Hampshire County Council as a disabled children’s social worker in 2001, Amber James has undertaken a number of roles for children’s services during her 20-year employment with the authority.

Before qualifying as a social worker in 2000, she spent six years working as a support worker with young adults with learning disabilities in a hospital environment and then in a residential community home. Before joining Hampshire County Council, and after qualifying, Amber was a disabled children’s social worker for West Sussex County Council.   

Her roles at Hampshire have included an appointment as a senior practitioner and then team manager before being seconded to the post of social care IT service manager, working on developing the requirements of a new social care IT system. After this, Amber took responsibility, as a senior manager, for integrated placements - managing the in-house fostering service (for both Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Council), the placement commissioning team and the secure welfare coordination unit (for England and more recently Wales too). In January 2017, Amber moved to be head of resource and partnerships, responsible for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’s adoption, fostering, youth offending, residential children’s homes, disabled children’s homes, secure children’s home and the Secure Welfare Co-ordination Unit commissioned by the Department for Education. Since November 2019 she has been seconded from this role to lead on the Modernising Placements Programme, part of Hampshire Children’s Services’ transformational journey.

Richard Sprott, operations manager in assessment and safeguarding, Somerset County Council

Richard qualified as a social worker in 2006 following a previous life in Apple Mac sales. Since qualifying he has worked in both mental health and child protection. Formative experience in the charitable sector gave Richard a strong foundation and passion for a person-centred approach to social work. This aligns well with Somerset’s passion for strengths and relationship based working. Reflecting Somerset’s focus on workforce development, Richard was recently promoted to Operations Manager in Assessment and Safeguarding, following four years practice as a team manager in the Child Looked After team. Permanence and systemic practice were key themes during this period.

Kerie Anne, vice-chair, social care forum, UNISON

Stephany Carolan, principal consultant, Hampshire County Council

Dr Stephany Carolan is a Principal Consultant working in HCC children’s services. She led on the development of the Business Case for our Modernising Placements Programme. Stephany has over 20 years of experience working at a senior level with organisations in the health, social care and community sectors. She has a PhD in psychology and a research interest in digital health.

Paul Finon, head of intensive and specialist support services, Norfolk County Council

Paul Finon is the Head of Service for the Intensive and Specialist Support Service in Norfolk which is part of Norfolk Children’s Services call-in model of practice.  Paul was responsible for launching the service in March 2020 and has been developing the service offer over the last 18 months to include Domestic Abuse, Intensive parenting, Home-based, Substance Misuse, therapeutically informed and Dads Matter support. Prior to joining Norfolk Children’s Services Paul was an early help service manager and social work manager with a background in systemic family practice.


Fejiro Emasiobi, actor, CHIVA

Jack James Ryan, actor, CHIVA

Danny Schneinmann, director, CHIVA

Aga Serugo Lugo, musician, CHIVA

Sarah Sutcliffe, director, CHIVA

Maia Watkins, actor, CHIVA

Dr Alice Loving, independent parenting assessment and intervention practitioner and trainer and MA lecturer, Centre for Child Protection, University of Kent

Alice has worked within the field of child protection for 11 years and currently works independently providing parental assessments and intervention work for local authorities. She completed her PhD within the social care department at Royal Holloway University, which focused on exploring influencing factors on the outcomes of intervention, with a particular interest in the impact of childhood trauma on parenting capacity. Alice delivers attachment and relationship-based practice training to social care practitioners within the UK and Ireland. Alice is an honorary lecturer for the Centre for Child Protection at Kent University and has published work in the Child and Family Social Work and Children England journals. Her most recent publication is a chapter titled ‘Working with cases of neglect and emotional abuse’, featured in ‘Child Protection and the Care Continuum’. She has previously worked with Community Care, providing social workers with effective direct work techniques and producing guidance on understanding attachment relationships and writing about this in court.

Lauraine Portwood, service manager, children and families hub/practice leads, Essex County Council

Lauraine Portwood has held management roles in Essex since 2009, with her current role as Service Manager for the Children and Families Hub/Practice Leads starting in 2019. This role has supported Lauraine to build on her interests which include multi-agency working, early help, domestic abuse, and exploitation. Prior to holding a senior management role, Lauraine managed various teams supporting the child through their involvement with Children's Social Care, and spent a year seconded to Essex Police developing their MARAC response to high-risk domestic abuse. Lauraine is a Firstline fellow and has an active role supporting Firstiline graduates in Essex.

Gill Archer, developing policy and campaigns, UNISON

Gill has worked for UNISON and its predecessor union for over 30 years. Since the 90s she has held several national roles in UNISON’s local government section and has specialised in job evaluation and pay and grading.

She has also been a UNISON negotiator and Assistant Trade Union Side Secretary for national pay and conditions negotiations for staff employed on National Joint Council terms and conditions – the Green Book.

In her current role Gill is responsible for developing policy and campaigns on workplace issues raised by our social worker members and represents UNISON on various forums. UNISON is the biggest trade union for social workers and the wider social care workforce, with over 40,000 social workers in membership working across the whole range of social work employers including local authorities, NHS Trusts, the voluntary sector, agencies, Cafcass, and the care regulators. UNISON is the principal trade union recognised for social workers in the UK, negotiating on pay and conditions of service at national and local level and providing individual advice and representation to social workers.

Amanda Powell, workforce development officer, West Berkshire Council

Kristina Eves, workforce development lead, Essex Social Care Academy, Essex County Council

Angela Rowe, workforce development strategy officer, Kent County Council

Gemma Durrant, head of workforce development, Hampshire County Council

Isaac Williams, expert by experience

Craig Chalmers, director of community social work, Norfolk County Council

Craig is the director of community social work at Norfolk County Council. His prior roles include assistant director in a number of local authorities and assistant director within Health and Social Care integrated services.

As a registered social worker and approved social worker before entering management, Craig has an ongoing belief that social work is the key profession to ensure individuals are connected to their communities and a wider range of life-enhancing opportunities.

Andrew Smith, adult principal social worker, Norfolk County Council

Faye Gower-Smith, principal occupational therapist, Norfolk County Council

Robin Donaldson, Essex County Council