Lucy Peake l Chief Executive
Lucy joined Grandparents Plus in September 2015, after 11 years at The Fostering Network where she was Director of External Affairs and then Director of Development. Her experience includes policy and research, programme development, fundraising, business development, marketing and membership development. Her highlights include the development and delivery of London Fostering Achievement, the award winning programme to raise the educational attainment of children in care, as well as the successful Staying Put campaign to enable young people in foster care to stay with their former foster carers until 21. She has a PhD in Politics. Lucy has three young children who enjoy spending time with their grandparents.
Sarah Wellard l Director of Policy & Research
Sarah Wellard is the Director of Policy and Research. She has nine years’ experience in the voluntary sector working for a national disability charity and as Parliamentary Officer for Barnardo’s. Sarah has also worked as a freelance journalist and consultant, an advisor within the civil service and has an MSc in social policy from the LSE. She has three children and is a school governor.
Agnes Gautier l Policy Officer
Agnes Gautier is the Policy Officer. She has nine years of policy, project and campaigns experience in the voluntary sector. She’s worked for the United Nations International Labour Office and the National Union of Students. She has a MSc in European Social Policy from LSE and studied politics in France. Agnes has two young children.
Alana Genge l Communications & Marketing Officer
Alana Genge is the Communications and Marketing Officer. She has a MSc in Political Communication, Advocacy and Campaigning from Kingston University. She currently volunteers as a Wish Visitor with Make a Wish UK and has previously been our Campaign and Communications Intern.
Jo Raine l Family and Friends Advice Service Manager
Jo Raine is the Advice Service Manager. She previously worked as a Citizens Advice Bureau adviser for five years. She has also worked for many years in Supported Housing, after doing an MSc in Housing. Jo has two children, and their grandma plays a big role in their lives.
Nicola Kerr l Family and Friends Advice & Information Worker
Nicola Kerr is the Advice and Information Worker. Nicola previously worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau for 12 years, firstly as a Generalist Adviser and then as Specialist Welfare Rights Adviser. Most recently she worked for a charity providing information and advice to adults and carers around health and social care. She also worked as Detached Youth Worker for a year befriending young people on the streets, working with young people’s personal and social development by offering information support and advice.
Gill Perks l Family and Friends Advice & Information Worker &
Coordinator for the Grandparents Contact Helpline.
Gill works as an Advice and Information Worker on the Family and Friends Advice Line and as a Coordinator on the Grandparent Contact Helpline. Previously she worked for The Grandparents’ Association for 8 years, on various Government funded projects including, helping grandparents become part of an online community, and offering support for grandparents during divorce and separation. She has worked in the charity sector for over 27 years and has also helped to raise over one million pounds for a children cancer charity. She has three young grandchildren.
Alison Blaxland l Kinship Care Support Network Manager
Alison Blaxland is the Support Network Manager. She leads the development of our growing and influential Support Network of over 7,000 kinship carers, ensuring that they are connected with each other and able to take part in our events and campaigning work. She has worked in the voluntary sector for over 20 years in media and communications roles and previously worked for the children’s charity Barnardo’s as an Editor. Alison has one son.
Susannah Cardy l Project Manager
Susannah Cardy is the Project Manager. She leads the development of our new parenting programme, designed exclusively to meet the needs of kinship carers, and co-ordinates the Support Network. Susannah has 15 years’ experience as a television director, working on a range of documentaries, and as a freelance writer. She directed A Grandparents’ Tale for Channel 4, which followed three sets of grandparents who were raising their grandchildren. Susannah has been a kinship carer for eight years raising her three nephews and one niece, after the death of their father. She also has two younger children of her own.
Judith Howells l Family Support Manager
Judith Howells is the Family Support Manager. She supports and advises grandparents about setting up new support groups and oversees the groups providing guidance and assisting with issues. Judith previously worked as a teacher for over twenty years, becoming a Deputy Head Teacher, specialising in special needs and working with children in the care system. She was a SENCO, (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) in several schools, a SAT’s moderator, and a Consultant Deputy Head working in failing schools. She also lectured to Nursery Nurses, Teaching Assistants and young people who found themselves outside of the school system. Judith worked for The Grandparents’ Association for over eight years. She is married with three grown up children and four young grandchildren.
Bernie Huxley l Project worker
Bernie Huxley is the Project Worker for the Kinship Care Support Network. She joined the team in November 2015 after relocating to London from Lancashire. Bernie has worked as a qualified social worker in the North West for over 20 years in various posts across adult and children’s services. During that time she also managed a Barnardo’s Young Carers project and has worked within Health as a Palliative Care social worker. For the last five years she worked within fostering, supporting foster carers and young people in their care. Bernie has three adult children and has one granddaughter who she loves to spend time with.
Dawn Jenkins l Project Manager, Relative Experience
Dawn Jenkins is the Project Manager for the Relative Experience project based in the North East of England. Dawn is a qualified social worker and has 14 years’ experience in education, voluntary and statutory sectors, with a particular focus on children, young people and their families. Dawn has three children.
Ray Blythe l Project Worker, Relative Experience
(currently on maternity leave)
Ray Blythe is the Project Worker for the Relative Experience project based in the North East of England. Ray has worked within both statutory and voluntary sectors, with families and children for over 10 years. She has worked in a number of roles including mentor, advocate and mediator for three different charities and in two different local authorities. Ray is a school governor with three children.
Darren McGlen is the Project Worker for the Relative Experience project based in the North East of England. Darren has worked in the community sector for the past 12 years having previously worked in various roles within the NHS. He has a vast experience working with young people and their families, those with disabilities, behavioural problems as well as those involved in the criminal justice system. Darren is a parent of two as well as a qualified foster carer.
Ancha Stoodley l Project Worker, Relative Experience
Ancha Stoodley is the Project Worker for The Relative Experience Project based in the North East of England. Ancha previously spent five years as a Parenting Worker for Northumberland Youth Offending Service, supporting families where a young person had committed an offence. She also has extensive experience in the drug and alcohol field, spending six years as part of the Therapeutic Care team at Phoenix House residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in South Shields, and a further three years experience working in drug and alcohol services in Worcestershire and Birmingham. Ancha holds a BA (Hons) in Sociology and is passionate about volunteering and working with families. She has two children.
Mari Dilworth l Project Worker, Relative Experience
Mari Dilworth is the Project Worker for the Relative Experience project based in the North East of England (Middlesbrough area). Mari has 16 years’ experience as a Youth and Community Worker and 26 years’ experience in the Further Education Sector as a Lecturer in Counseling, Health and Social Care and as a Manager of Foundation Learning. She has a wealth of experience of working to support adults and young people promoting self-esteem and self-advocacy in the Teesside Area. She has two adult children and three grandchildren and plays an active part in their lives.
Lyn Boyd l Project Worker, Relative Experience
Lyn Boyd is the Project Worker for the Relative Experience project based in the North East of England (Durham area). Lyn has had an impressive leadership career within the voluntary sector across the North East, including managing a Citizen’s Advice Bureau, leading a European funded project as well as being Deputy Director of Durham Rural Community Council and latterly Chief Executive of Mental Health North East. She is passionate about effecting change for local communities and fighting for individuals who have faced discrimination. She has been a kinship carer, supporting her daughter and her grandchild during difficult family circumstances.
Yvonne Brown l Project Administrator, Relative Experience
Yvonne Brown is the Project Administrator for the Relative Experience project based in the North East of England. She brings to the project over 30 years’ experience of PA and administrative positions within Newcastle Social Services, including management roles. Yvonne has experience of fostering and has one daughter.
Administration and Support Staff
Louise Baker l PA to the Chief Executive
Louise Baker is PA to the Chief Executive. She worked for The Grandparents’ Association for nine years, looking after memberships and publications before taking over the finance and office management in the Harlow office and providing support to the Chief Executive. She has held a number of roles in sales, procurement and service management. Louise is married with three children who enjoy spending time with their grandparents.
Sacha Shabbir l Information Systems & Office Manager
Sacha Shabbir is the Information Systems and Office Manager. She has previously worked with the Child Protection Unit’s Reviewing Team, Hackney Children’s Services and has several years’ experience in both the voluntary and private sectors. She was a Board member of Advisory Group for The London Links Project run by the Ormiston Children and Families Trust, working with families of prisoners. Sacha is a member of the advisory board and also volunteer’s for the Unity within Communities project run by Emaan Foundation Community & Education Centre. This is an ongoing project working with BME communities, local community groups, youth groups and inter-faith relations.