Speaker biographies: Community Care Live Children and Families


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Camelia Borg, Care Leaver and Project Interviewer, CARE LEAVERS STORIES

Since leaving care at 17, Camelia has been involved in numerous community, youth and care related projects whilst also achieving a First Class BA Honours in Business, as a mature student. She is a freelancer and continues to work across various sectors, including: acting, teaching, social housing and on the National Citizen Service programme as a Team Leader. Camelia’s social enterprise which supports others who are care experienced will officially be launched soon.

Romi Bowen, Strategic Director of Children’s and Adults’ Services, Southwark Council
Romi qualified as a social worker in 1982. She entered the profession like many at the time as part of a joint commitment to social change. She practised as a frontline worker for many years in inner London in the voluntary and statutory sector and has been a senior manager for 15 years, mostly in Southwark where she is Strategic Director of Children’s and Adults services.

Jenny Brennan, Service Manager, Youth Offending Service, Southwark Council

Soon after Jenny started volunteering with young offenders, she quickly abandoned a career in scientific research for one in social work. After several years working in the voluntary sector, she joined Southwark to implement the On Track early intervention programme and has been there since. Jenny is currently Head of the Youth Offending Service.

Louise Casey, Director General of the Troubled Families Programme, DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITIES & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Louise Casey is Director General of the Troubled Families programme at the Department of Communities & Local Government. She is working to the Secretary of State on the Prime Minister’s commitment to turn around the lives of 120,000 of the country’s most troubled families. She took up post in November 2011.

Louise was formerly the first independent Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses, acting to promote the interests of victims and witnesses in Whitehall, the Criminal Justice System and beyond.

Previously Louise was Director General in the Home Office, heading up the Neighbourhood Crime and Justice Group. Prior to that, she carried out an independent review from the Cabinet Office which took a detailed look at the public’s view on crime and how to engage them in tackling it.

In 2005, Louise was appointed as the head of the cross-government Respect Task Force which worked to tackle anti-social behaviour by getting to its causes through programmes such as parenting and intervention and support for problematic families. Before that, she was the Director of the Home Office’s Anti-social Behaviour Unit.

Louise also led the successful strategy to reduce the number of people sleeping rough and established the Homelessness Directorate in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Between 1992 and 1999, Louise was Deputy Director of Homelessness Charity Shelter and, prior to that, held a number of posts in the social welfare sector. Louise was awarded the Companion of the Order of Bath (CB) in the Queen’s birthday honours list, 2008.

Roger Catchpole, Consultant and Trainer, YOUNGMINDS

Roger Catchpole is a Consultant and Trainer at YoungMinds, the UK’s leading children’s mental health charity. He currently leads Moving On, a 3 year national programme funded by Comic Relief, focused on the mental health needs of children. He was a member of the 2008 CAMHS Review, has published articles and a book chapter on CAMH and was a contributor to the Radio 4 series Bringing up Britain.

Lee Coupland, Co-Founding Director and Sentinel Chief Technology Officer (CTO), SENTINEL

Lee Coupland is a co-founding Director and Sentinel Chief Technology Officer (CTO). He is responsible for leading the Research and Development, Information Services and Technical Support Teams. After a fifteen-year career within the wider software industry he switched into local government in 2007 and specializes in the cleansing and matching of data. Outside of Sentinel, Lee is a keen Rubgy coach.

Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive, CAFCASS

Anthony Douglas CBE has been Chief Executive of Cafcass, the specialist national agency representing children and families in family courts throughout England, since 2004. Cafcass represents over 150,000 children annually. He has written 4 books on social policy and care and is writing a fifth on a contemporary model of survival and resilience. He has been a Visiting Fellow of the University of East Anglia since 2003, the University of Plymouth since 2011 and Chair of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) since 2004. He is a member of the Family Justice Board for England and Wales and the Social Work Reform Board for England. He was awarded a CBE in 2008 for services to family justice and adoption.

Karla Finikin, Head of Clinical Services, The TCES Group

Karla is the Head of Clinical Services at the TCES Group, leading our Inclusion and Therapeutic services. Karla is a Qualified Social Worker and has a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Issues. She has 18 years’ experience working with complex children, young people and their families/carers in social care, education and mental health settings. For the past 13 years she has specialised in child and adolescent mental health, giving her a wealth of knowledge regarding complex children who present with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Pete Fleischmann, Head of Co-Production, SOCIAL CARE INSTITUTE FOR EXELLENCE (SCIE)
Pete Fleischmann has worked as Head of Co-Production at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) for 9 years. This role includes ensuring that users and carers are at the heart of everything SCIE does as well as producing good practice guidance for the sector on co-production and participation. Pete has experience of using mental health services and has been active in the mental health user movement. Pete was development worker and then co-ordinator of Brent Mental Health User Group (BUG). Until 2004, Pete worked as an independent consultant. His contracts included working with the Service User Research Enterprise (SURE) at the Institute of Psychiatry, developing user involvement at Revolving Doors Agency and working in Eastern Europe to build the capacity of non-governmental organisations.

Jeremy Fletcher, Strategic Policy Manager/ LADO, Wiltshire Council

Jeremy Fletcher has worked for over 30 years in a number of Voluntary and Social Care settings – as a practitioner and within Management. This has been with a wide spectrum of service users. Jeremy is currently the Local Authority Designated Officer and is responsible for Allegations Management – Safeguarding matters, in relation to adults in a Position of Trust.

Donald Forrester, Lead Academic for the FRONTLINE ACADEMY,  Director of the TILDA GOLDBERG CENTRE
Professor Forrester is the Lead Academic for the Frontline Academy and Director of the Tilda Goldberg Centre. He was appointed Professor of Social Work Research at the University of Bedfordshire in 2010, and is one of the leading evaluative researchers in social work in the UK. Professor Forrester practised as a child and family social worker for 10 years before moving into research in 2000.

James Foyle, Recruitment and Retention Consultant, The Fostering Network

Using experience of foster care recruitment gained at a London borough authority, James Foyle provides support to fellow fostering service recruitment professionals and facilitates workshops and regional forums. As well as providing a key role in developing and delivering the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight campaign in 2013, he is also involved in delivering the Department for Education’s tender to support fostering services to recruit more foster carers.

Perdeep Gill, Social Care Consultant, ADITI Consultancy and Training

Perdeep qualified as a social worker over twenty years ago. She has worked in child protection in Local Authorities and the voluntary sector: as a social worker, child protection advisor and in managerial roles. She also worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital on the child sexual abuse team and took on consultation work from the Tavistock Clinic. Perdeep also ran a non-governmental organisation providing services to women and children survivors of child sexual abuse. Perdeep has also worked as a child protection consultant throughout the UK in regard to complex child protection cases involving ethnic minority families. She also facilitates training courses and critical reflection groups. Perdeep has also been employed as a consultant to undertake tasks such as service evaluation audits, service and strategy development.

In addition, Perdeep devised the model for the Community Partnership Project which the Metropolitan Police Service commissioned her to run. She has since undertaken a number of qualitative research studies pertaining to safeguarding and worked as a consultant parenting expert. Recently, Perdeep worked as a consultant BME theme lead for NSPCC and shaped the national strategy and operational plan for that organisation. She has also given evidence to a United Nations working group in regard to modern day forms of slavery and children. She has also written about organised abuse and specialist child protection manuals for Community Care Inform and is a Board member of Community Care Inform. Perdeep is an independent safeguarding advisor to a number of organisations voluntary and Faith organisations and was an advisor to the Metropolitan Police.

Ruth Gardner, Adviser on child neglect, NSPCC

Ruth Gardner is an Advisor on child neglect at NSPCC. From 2010-13 she was Head of Strategy & Development for neglect which developed a programme of services for children and families now being implemented and under evaluation, alongside a number of research and development projects; for example with UEA on neglect in Serious Case Reviews ; with the Institute of Child Health on GP responses to neglect and abuse and with Kids Company on involving and listening to young people. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia. She has combined practice, research and writing throughout her career.

Damian Haasjes, Strategic Policy Manager/ LADO, Wiltshire Council

Damian has worked for over 20 years in mainstream and special needs education, residential social care and the voluntary sector. Currently he manages the Voice and Influence Team which runs a range of programmes and develops structures to ensure the voice of children and young people are listened to. He leads real change that impacts services and every aspect of the commissioning cycle.

Kym is a Senior Practitioner working with women who have had at least one child removed from their care. This is a pilot project based in Ipswich, and offers intense support to vulnerable mothers at risk of continuing the cycle of having more children caught in the care system.

Annie Hudson, Chief Executive, THE COLLEGE OF SOCIAL WORK

Annie Hudson is Chief Executive of The College of Social Work, having taken up the post in August this year. Previously she was Strategic Director, Children, Young People and Skills, for Bristol City Council.

Annie trained and practised as a social worker in Brighton and Newcastle upon Tyne. She was then a lecturer in social work at Manchester University where she researched and published on child protection and young women’s experiences of care. In 1989 Annie returned to local authority work as a child care team manager in central Bristol.

Annie has held a number of senior local authority posts; previously she was Head of Children’s Services in Wiltshire and then Bristol, before becoming Bristol’s Director of Social Services and Director of Adult Community Care 2006-2009. She is also a member of the Research in Practice Board.


Harriet has over 27 years’ experience as a children’s social worker with 20 years in a management role.  Her initial work was with the Youth Justice Service and she has worked as a children’s guardian for 9 years.

In December 2011 she was appointed as Head of Community Social Work in Redbridge and is the lead officer on the Domestic Abuse Forum which resulted in Social Workers delivering the Caring Dads Programme as a joint initiative with the Probation Service.  She is also the lead officer in raising awareness of the Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children and Young People in Redbridge.

She has spent her career working for a number of local authorities taking the lead in preparing her service for Ofsted inspections. All inspections, including in Redbridge in 2012, were rated as Good.

Brian Johnson, Programme Coordinator, RESILIENCE FOSTERING

Brian has been the Programme Coordinator for Staffordshire County Council’s innovative Resilience Fostering Project since its inception in 2008. As a registered Social Worker, he has worked in Staffordshire’s Fostering Service since 2002. Prior to this he worked extensively in the childcare arena across a range of disciplines including both safeguarding and residential sectors. He is an active member of Staffordshire’s County Council’s Fostering Panel.

Debbie Jones, Regional Director (RD) London and National Director Social Care, OFSTED

Debbie joined Ofsted on 16 September 2013, taking up her role as the Regional Director London and National Director Social Care.

Previously Debbie was Executive Director of Lambeth Council’s Children and Young People’s Service since August 2010 managing the department through extensive changes in the face of severe budget cuts, while still ensuring that children, young people and families get the services they need, delivered to the highest of standards. This was reflected in Ofsted outcomes in both children’s services and around the pace of school improvement. Debbie is a qualified social worker with an extensive career in children’s services.

Debbie served as President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) from 2012-2013.

Debbie’s hallmark is her experience in tackling difficult and challenging issues spanning borough, city and county council’s across the country, making improvements to services, facilitating and making partnerships work and taking tough decisions that have improved the services for children, young people and families. Her ambition is to continuously drive up excellence with the needs of children and young people firmly at the centre of services provided and decisions made.

Debbie started her professional career in South London as a practitioner majoring nationally and locally in fostering and adoption, as well as services for disabled children. She has worked across a number of Local Authorities in both unitary and Shire Counties, as well as a spell in Further Education. With a Masters in Public Sector Management, Debbie has held a variety of senior leadership roles including: Assistant Director in Slough, Corporate Director Children and Learning at Luton Council, Interim Director of Children’s services at Stoke on Trent City Council and Acting Director of Social Care and Health for Durham County Council.

Ray Jones, Professor of Social Work, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, KINGSTON UNIVERSITY & ST GEORGE’S UNIVERSITY, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON

Ray Jones is Professor of Social Work at Kingston University and St George’s University, University of London, and is a registered social worker.

From 1992 to 2006 he was Director of Social Service in Wiltshire. He was the first Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, and has been Deputy Chair and Chair of the British Association of Social Workers.
He has led inquiries following the deaths of children and adults, been Chair of Bristol’s Safeguarding Children Board and of Salford’s Safeguarding Children Improvement Board, and is now Chair of the Children’s Improvement Boards in Torbay, the Isle of Wight, Sandwell and Devon.
He has just completed a book on how the ‘Baby P’ story was told and its impact and is preparing a book on ‘The History of the Personal Social Services’.

Sophie Kershaw, Service Manager, FAMILY DRUG AND ALCOHOL COURT

Sophie Kershaw became the Service Manager of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court in January 2008. She qualified as a Social Worker in 1999. Prior to qualification, Sophie worked in a children’s residential unit for 11 to 18 year olds, a Romanian orphanage, and working in direct access hostels and day centres for the homeless. Sophie started work as a child protection Social Worker in 1999 for Camden and has worked in different roles within Children Services until January 2008. This included a year as a Practitioner Lecturer at Brunel University, Strategy and Development Manager, working on the Emergency Duty Team until she became a Team Manager for a Child Protection team in Islington in 2007. Sophie is also trained in Social Behavioural Network therapy, as a Family Group Conference coordinator, a Mellow Parenting trainer, and Video Interaction Guidance practitioner (Phase3).

Josh MacAlister, Chief Executive, Frontline
Josh is a former Teacher and ambassador of Teach First. He taught in secondary schools across Greater Manchester and was a Head of Department before leaving the profession to set up Frontline. In 2010 he first wrote an article outlining the case for a new route into children’s social work. He is also an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), where he developed the case for Frontline.

Carrie McKenzie, Head, Organisational Change, Medway Council

Carrie McKenzie has worked for Medway Council for two years as Head of Organisational Change. Carrie is passionate about the benefits that can be achieved through both an engaged workforce and creating an innovative learning culture. This passion has seen the previous  organisations she has worked for consecutively listed in the top five of The Times Best Council To  Work  For  Awards and leading the first council to achieve IiP Gold.

Graham McCusker, Co-Founding Director, SENTINEL
Graham McCusker is a co-founding Director of Sentinel, responsible for solutions design and commercial relationships. He is passionate about delivering true transformational change quickly and efficiently, and exceeding expectations. With a long and successful IT career with the biggest international consultancies and clients, he believes Sentinel matters the most in supporting the protection of vulnerable of people. It must be right!

Carrie McKenzie has worked for Medway Council for two years as Head of Organisational Change. Carrie is passionate about the benefits that can be achieved through both an engaged workforce and  creating an  innovative learning culture . This passion has seen the  previous  organisations she has worked for consecutively listed in the top  five of  The Times Best Council To  Work  For  Awards and leading the first council to achieve IiP Gold.

David Norgrove, Chairman, PENSIONS FIRST

David Norgrove is currently Chairman of Pensions First, the Low Pay Commission and the Amnesty International Charitable Trust. He was the first Chairman of the Pensions Regulator. He has been a trustee and Deputy Chairman of the British Museum. He chaired a review of the Family Justice System in 2010-11. His earlier career included work in HM Treasury, at First National Bank of Chicago, as Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, and as an Executive Director of Marks and Spencer.

Vijay Patel, Professional Standards Lead, The College of Social Work

Vijay Patel has recently started at the College, having moved from teaching on the MASW at Warwick. Prior to that he worked with children and families in both statutory and voluntary settings before moving to BAAF and then onto the civil service. His interests are in supporting Looked after children and the use of IT with service users.

Mark Proctor – Services Director, Ormiston Children and Families Trust
Mark manages our team of Area Managers and makes sure that our regional services provide the very best quality support for children, young people and their families, whatever challenges they may face.


Dr Jane Reeves has a background in social work with young people in care, particularly young parents who were in care themselves. Since joining the University of Kent in 2011, Dr Reeves has founded the Centre for Child Protection with Co-Director Professor David Shemmings. Dr Reeves has led innovative research into many aspects of child protection, in particular the use of eye tracker technology to identify and analyse ‘compassion fatigue’ and ‘secondary trauma’ in child protection practitioners. Dr Reeves is committed to utilising technology to produce training products to raise professional and organisational standards in child protection practice.

Kellie Reichard, Executive Deputy Head Teacher, The TCES Group

Kellie Reichard is the Executive Deputy Head Teacher of the TCES Group. She is a qualified teacher and has spent the last nine years focusing on inner city education at various institutions. Her previous roles have included school leadership, behaviour management, pastoral care, curriculum development, post-school preparation for pupils, EAL and SEN provisions and community work. Kellie is also creator of Telling Schools™, an anti-bullying website helping students report bullying incidents safely and securely.

Heather Sexton, Social Worker  (North and East CYPDT), Wiltshire Council

Heather has spent over 30 years working in social care. She career started working with adults with learning disabilities in various settings before managing a joint health and social care team. Heather then decided to return to practice and moved to work with disabled children. During this time she became an accredited trainer in person centred approaches and ran regular courses.

Councillor David Simmonds, Chairman, Children and Young People Board, Local Government Association

Councellor David Simmonds has a professional background is in finance, where he worked for two high street banks after qualifying with the Chartered Institute of Insurers in 1997. Hillingdon’s Deputy Leader since 2002, he was the youngest councillor in London when elected at 22 and served as a committee chairman and cabinet member covering planning, housing, social services, and education and children’s services. Chairing the LGA Children’s Board, he has developed a high media profile, appearing regularly on the Today programme and Newsnight. He serves as a magistrate in Brent and previously as a non-executive director in his local NHS while at European level, he chairs the education employers’ organization for Europe and is a member of the Education Commission of the Committee of the Regions in the EU.

John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development, BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR ADOPTION AND FOSTERING

John Simmonds is Director of Policy, Research and Development at the British Association for Adoption and Fostering. Before beginning at BAAF in 2000 he was head of the social work programmes at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is a qualified social worker and has substantial experience in child protection, family placement and residential care settings. He is currently responsible for BAAF’s contribution to the development of policy and practice in social work, health, the law and research.

John has published widely including editing with Gillian Schofield the Child Placement Handbook and Good Practice Guidance on Special Guardianship. In 2012 he completed a research project on unaccompanied asylum seeking children in foster care with the Universities of York and Bedfordshire and recently a study of 100 women adopted from Hong Kong into the UK in the 1960s in partnership with the Institute of Psychiatry. He is currently involved in a Department for Education funded study on Special Guardianship. He is the adoptive father of two children, now adults.

Isabelle Trowler, Chief (Children & Families) Social Worker for England

Isabelle Trowler qualified as a social worker from the London School of Economics & Political Science in 1996 and has worked within the voluntary and statutory sectors both in education and social care settings, and in a variety of practice and management roles. Over the last 7 years initially as the Assistant Director of Children’s Social Care in Hackney and later as Director of Morning Lane Associates, Isabelle has been heavily immersed in the design, development and implementation of the innovative model of service delivery –  Reclaiming Social Work – also known across the UK and internationally as the ‘Hackney model’. In 2011 Isabelle was seconded to the Department for Education as an adviser to the Munro Review of Child Protection. In September 2013 she took up the post of Chief (Children & Families) Social Worker for England.

Natalie Valios

Natalie spent 16 years as a journalist on Community Care magazine; her last role as deputy content editor for the magazine and www.community.care.co.uk. She has been freelancing for the last four years, writing for The Guardian, YoungMinds magazine, The College of Social Work’s e-magazine Social Work Matters, Mental Health Today, Learning Disability Today, and Sussex Life. She also worked part-time in the media team for the charity Pilotlight. Natalie has recently come back to the Community Care fold, filling a maternity cover role as deputy content and technology manager on Community Care Inform.

Dr FA Watson (BA, M. Crim, MA-CQSW, PhD), Safeguarding Team Manager, NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Dr FA Watson (BA, M. Crim, MA-CQSW, PhD) has been a professionally qualified probation officer and social worker in Canada and the UK for over 30 years, and previously taught on a BA (Hons) SW. She currently works as a Team Manager for a Safeguarding Children Team in Norfolk.

Phil Watson, Assistant Director, Children’s Social Care, Medway Council

Phil Watson is the new Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care in Medway Council. Prior to this Phil has worked in Children’s Social Care teams and services in and around London since the late 90’s, leaving the London Borough of Islington as Head of Disabled Children’s Services to join Medway in July this year. Phil has a post-graduate diploma in SW and currently studying for a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) at London South Bank University.

Andrew Webb, President, Association of Directors of Children’s Service and Corporate Director for Services to People, Stockport Council

Andrew Webb is a qualified teacher and social worker. He has been employed in a number of local authority posts since 1976, working predominantly with children and families. Before joining Stockport Council as a Director, Andrew was responsible for children and families services in both Knowsley Council and Cheshire County Council. Andrew was Deputy Chair of the Government’s Social Work Task Force in 2009/10, a member of The Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Antisocial Behaviour established by the Police Foundation, and is currently chair of the Research in Practice partnership board and a member of the Family Justice Board. Andrew’s contribution to national policy has included a secondment as an adviser to the DfES.

He has helped develop the change programme supporting Every Child Matters and the Children Act 2004 and membership of a number of Government inter-departmental steering groups that produced guidance on safeguarding children, services to children in need and reducing delay in family proceedings. He was a member of the NSPCC working party that published ‘Which of You Did It?’ in 2002 and in 2004 was part of a working group chaired by Baroness Kennedy and sponsored by the Royal Colleges of Paediatrics and Pathology which produced a national protocol for the investigation of Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy.

David Westlake, Research Fellow, Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care, University of Bedfordshire

David Westlake has a background in child and family social work research, and has been involved in a number of major studies in this area. He was part of the research team who carried out a recent evaluation of the Systemic Unit Model, and has undertaken research in many local authorities across the UK.


Catherine Worboyes, Head of Division, LONDON BOROUGH OF REDBRIDGE

Catherine is an expert in the field of Child Protection. As Head of Division Catherine has led front-line Child Protection Services at the London Borough of Redbridge for over 7 years. Prior to that Catherine managed services for Children in Need, Looked after Children, Children with Child Protection Plans, Adoptions and Children Act Cases.

Catherine is currently leading on establishing a 4 borough Emergency Duty Services for children, and has recently set up Redbridge MASH and multi-agency panel for children at risk of sexual exploitation.

Catherine is a qualified social worker and counsellor with additional experience in Mental Health. She has survived 4 Ofsted inspections and lived to tell the tale.


Andrew Wyatt, Senior Operational Manager Assistant Director, Multi-Agency Assessment, Family Support and Child Protection, Specialist Division, Children and Young People’s Services, London Borough of Lambeth

Andrew is an experienced Social Worker (qualified in 1987) and is a Senior Operational Manager with some experience of leading on Workforce Development across the Children’s Partnership.

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