Sarah Wellard l Director of Policy & Research

Sarah Wellard is the Director of Policy, Research and Communications.  She has nine years’ experience in the voluntary sector working for a national disability charity and as Parliamentary Officer for Barnardos. 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.



Sacha Shabbir l Information Systems & Office Manager

Sacha Shabbir is the Information Systems and Office Manager and has previously worked with the Child Protection Reviewing Team, Hackney Children’s Services and has several years’ experience in both the voluntary and private sectors. She is a volunteer at her local community and education centre and is a member of their Unity within Communities’ advisory board.


david roth webDavid Roth l Kinship Service Development Manager

David Roth is the Kinship Development Manager. David is a qualified social worker, who first became a local authority social worker in 1981. After 25 years in various posts,  as a generic social worker and in specialist kinship care and fostering posts, David moved to the voluntary sector in 2006 when he became the Family and Friends Care Policy Adviser for Family Rights Group. David took up his current post with Grandparents Plus in December 2014, and is also studying for a Masters in Social Research Methodology at LSE.


Alison Blaxland l Support Network Manager

Alison Blaxland is the Support Network Manager. She has worked in the voluntary sector for almost 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 Support Network Co-ordinator & Parenting Project Manager

Susannah Cardy is the Co-ordinator of 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 3 sets of grandparents who were raising their grandchildren. Susannah has been a kinship carer for 8 years raising her 3 nephews and 1 niece, after the death of their father. She also has 2 younger children of her own.


Jo Raine l 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 webNicola Kerr l 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.


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.


Alana Genge

Alana Genge l Communications & Marketing Officer

Alana Genge is the Communications and Marketing Officer. She has recently completed a MSc in Political Communication, Advocacy and Campaigning from Kingston University. She volunteers for her local MP and has previously been our Campaign and Communications Intern.


YawB-webYaw Brobbey l Finance & Administration Officer

Yaw Brobbey is the Finance & Administration Officer. Yaw has worked with many organisations including Islington Voluntary Action Council, London Lighthouse, Centrepoint and Greenwich Action for Voluntary Service. He has also been a trustee of Islington African Project (Elthorne Learning Centre), a Committee member of Community Accountancy National Network and an Executive Committee member of the South East London Consortium. Yaw is married with children and a proud grandfather.


jess webJessica Satchell l Research Assistant

Jessica Satchell is a research assistant who joined the team in June 2015. In addition to her MSc in psychology and research methods, Jessica has experience in support work and providing rapid intervention to people found rough sleeping in London. She has also extensively volunteered as a peer supporter and worked on community development projects in Sri Lanka.

 Relative Experience Project Team

Cath HalseCath Halse l Project Manager, Relative Experience

Cath Halse is the Project Manager for the Relative Experience project based in the North East of England. Cath brings a wide range of experience in both statutory and voluntary sector settings. From starting out as a social worker in Newcastle she has moved to the Voluntary Sector in both development and management roles and has experience of working for five different charities, both local and national. She is married with two sons.


Yvonne BrownYvonne 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.


Dawn-webDawn Jenkins l Project Worker, Relative Experience

Dawn Jenkins is the Project Worker 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. She has three children.


Ray BlytheRay Blythe l Project Worker, Relative Experience

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.


mari for blogMari 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 of supporting 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 Boyd1Lyn 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.