Working directly with kinship carers across the country in their homes, communities and through our advice service, our team helps kinship families work through problems, understand their choices and make positive decisions for the whole family.
Meet our advice team
Our advice team delivers advice and guidance via phone, email and social media. They’re on hand daily to offer advice and support. They also research and develop information for our digital channels, including the website.
Kathy Wade, advice service manager
“I love working for Grandparents Plus, providing high-quality advice and support to our clients and getting to speak to our kinship carers who do such amazing things supporting their families.” read Kathy’s full bio
I’m the advice service manager and I’m based on the London office where I work with our small team of advisers, grants volunteers and admin volunteer.
I love working for Grandparents Plus, providing high-quality advice and support to our clients and getting to speak to our kinship carers who do such amazing things supporting their families. I love the passion and enthusiasm within the team and our commitment to campaigning for better rights for kinship carers.
I have worked in advice in the voluntary sector for more than 27 years and have a background in debt and money advice. I have managed advice services in London, heading an advice service in Tower Hamlets. I also work as a freelance trainer, providing training on a range of advice skills and issues.
I have a Humanities degree with English Literature and Philosophy with the Open University, I graduated as a mature student (studying while working full time) and loved the new skills and knowledge I developed while doing my degree.
In my spare time I love caring for my cats and pet tortoise and I also run a small retro sweets stall attending fayres and festivals at weekends.
Nicola Kerr, senior advice worker
“I’m extremely passionate about making sure our kinship carers are able to access free information and advice so they don’t suffer through lack of knowledge of their rights.” read Nicola’s full bio
I have 17 years’ experience of working in the advice sector. I started working for Grandparents Plus as an advice worker in 2015 and have been a senior advice worker since 2018.
I previously worked as a specialist welfare rights adviser for the Citizens Advice Bureau; representing service users in appealing many types of welfare benefit cases. Previous to that I was a generalist adviser providing general advice including, housing, debt, consumer, family, community care and benefits. I have also worked as a detached youth worker, befriending young people on the streets providing informal education to on a one to one basis and in group environments.
I’m extremely passionate about making sure our kinship carers are able to access free information and advice so they don’t suffer through lack of knowledge of their rights. I’m also passionate about making change through social policy so that kinship carers don’t have to suffer in the future.
I love to travel and be outdoors, preferably by the sea and I’m crazy about VW split screen campervans!
Heather Dubois, advice worker
“I am passionate about helping our Kinship Carers and providing them with independent advice so they can be fully informed on their rights.” read Heather’s full bio
I am so proud to be working for Grandparents Plus in a job that has real meaning. I am passionate about helping our kinship carers and providing them with independent advice so they can be fully informed on their rights.
I started working for Grandparents Plus in June 2020 as an Advice Worker, working remotely from home. I have worked in the advice industry for four years. My experience lays within general advice on benefits, housing, elderly care, consumer and welfare rights. I also work as a Volunteer Community Mediator in my hometown of Portsmouth on the south coast.
I was a kinship carer, when a close family member asked to come and live with us. I didn’t know that there was a term given to family and friends care. I wish I had known what support was available to me back then, as I think things would have been quite different. I am eager to share my knowledge and experiences with those that contact us for advice.
I love my English Springer Spaniel and I spend my free time taking him to new and interesting places for walks. I love art, philosophy, camping in the summer and have an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars.
Allison Low, advice worker
“I feel privileged to work for an organisation that I believe is a voice campaigning on behalf of the kinship care community to ensure their needs and rights are met.” read Allison’s full bio
I work within the advice team at Grandparents Plus offering independent and confidential help, support, and advice to kinship carers. I started working for Grandparents Plus in July 2020. I feel privileged to work for an organisation that I believe is a voice campaigning on behalf of the kinship care community to ensure their needs and rights are met.
I have worked within the advice sector for over 20 years as both a welfare benefits and money advice specialist having started my career as a general advice supervisor offering a wide range of advice and support. I have a keen interest in social policy and politics.
I am currently studying as a mature student with the Open University with business, health, and social care as my subject areas. I find this to be both challenging and rewarding as it broadens my knowledge and skillset.
In my spare time I love to visit our local beach and woods with my three-year-old granddaughter and together at home we enjoy baking, messy play and reading.
Meet our programmes team
Our programmes teams currently work across England. They manage all project workers and work alongside other professionals in the community, including the local authority.
Kelly McDonagh, programmes manager for the South of England
“Having been an informal kinship carer throughout my late twenties I bring my own lived experience to the challenges faced by the individuals and families Grandparents Plus supports.” read Kelly’s full bio
Hello my name is Kelly, I’m the Programmes Manager for the South of England. My primary role is supporting a team of dedicated and experienced project workers to deliver some of our core service delivery programmes; Kinship Connected and Kinship Ready.
Having spent 17 years within the criminal justice sector I was keen to take up this role at Grandparents Plus as it provided an opportunity where my professional and personal experiences could be merged together. Having been an informal kinship carer throughout my late twenties I bring my own lived experience to the challenges faced by the individuals and families Grandparents Plus supports.
I have worked in both statutory and non-statutory organisations within the criminal justice field and bring safeguarding knowledge to Grandparents Plus where I’m also the safeguarding lead. Within my previous experience I have managed resettlement units for British citizens detained abroad and deported back to the UK.
I have also specialised within providing gender specific services, public protection teams, substance misuse teams and worked on secondment to the Ministry of Justice completing projects on the management of recalled prisoners.
I hold a BA in Community Justice and Diploma in Probation Studies and a Certificate in Training in the Lifelong Learning sector which has supported my previous roles designing, delivering and evaluating a range of programmes.
Sue Martin, regional programmes manager
“I am proud to be part of the fantastic Grandparents Plus charity. Together we can support and empower Kinship families and create a positive difference to their lives.” read Sue’s full bio
I am Sue. I live in Manchester and my role is to co-ordinate the Kinship Response programme, supporting Kinship families across England with specific challenges.
Most of my working career has been within the charity sector working to give children and families the best life chances despite difficult circumstances. I worked at Women’s Aid for many years, to support individuals and families affected by domestic abuse and to campaign for change. Latterly I was head of service for the National Deaf Children’s Society and worked with local authorities and Government departments to improve access to education, welfare benefits and health care.
I am proud to be part of the fantastic Grandparents Plus charity. Together we can support and empower Kinship families and create a positive difference to their lives.
I have a BSc in nursing, am a trustee with my local Age UK and in my spare time you will find me either selling programmes, taking tickets or manning the ice cream stand at the Lowry theatre as a volunteer usher; or trying to hit a little white ball as I take my first tentative steps in the sport of golf!
Meet our project workers
Our project workers are integral to delivering support groups and advice and guidance to kinship carers in the community. With a collective wealth of knowledge they work tirelessly to improve the lives of the families they support.
Sue Wadwell, senior project worker for Redcar and Cleveland
“It’s a fantastic role as I get to support the families with fun activities. I was so pleased to come across Grandparents Plus on my search for carers as they dedicate support to any kinship carer in need through so many support routes.” read Sue’s full bio
I’m the senior project worker with kinship active in Redcar and Cleveland. This is a pilot project to help kinship carers and their children to improve fitness and their health and wellbeing.
It’s a fantastic role as I get to support the families with fun activities. After working for a local carers charity, I realised that kinship carers can have complex needs with very little support in place for them. I was so pleased to come across Grandparents plus on my search for carers as they dedicate support to any kinship carer in need through so many support routes.
I have worked for many years with people with long term conditions and disabilities and so with this knowledge and previous carer support makes this role both enjoyable and rewarding. I’m also a bit of a DIY wannabe and love a challenge!
Darren McGlen, senior project worker for the North East
“I love my job because it’s great to be able to provide support and advice to kinship carers who have very unfairly not received any or at most very little since taking on their caring role.” read Darren’s full bio
My name is Darren McGlen and I work providing support to kinship carers as well as creating new support groups and supporting existing ones. No matter how much support people need, it’s amazing to be able to bring any kind of additional enjoyment to their lives. To be able to do it with Grandparents Plus, which is such a supportive working environment with amazing values, makes it even better.
I originally qualified in Business Management, (postgraduate), and worked in a variety of posts within the NHS for around 11 years. I eventually found my real passion for community development, in which I have worked for a variety of charities for around 16 years.
Having been a foster carer for around 7 years I found this post that really fitted in with my interests; which was to support carers to carry out their roles without also having to worry about isolation or so many other financial, legal or social complications.
I spend most of my spare time traveling around the UK exploring new places with my family and fishing around the coastline.
Rachael Sherrington, project worker for Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees
“I love my role as I know that every day I do something that makes a difference to someone. The kinship carers that I meet and work with know they can contact me whenever they need to.” read Rachael’s full bio
Hello, my name is Rachael Sherrington and I’m a project worker at Grandparents Plus. I live in Huddersfield in Kirklees, and I’m the project worker for Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees. I offer support to kinship carers and run support groups in the community. I’m an advisor, an advocate and an ear.
I love my role as I know that every day I do something that makes a difference to someone. The kinship carers that I meet and work with know they can contact me whenever they need to.
I like working for Grandparents Plus as they are really passionate about what they do. They don’t just talk the talk – they walk the walk too. They are also a supportive employer – the care and compassion towards kinship carers you read about is what they give their employees too.
My background is in child protection and working in schools. I enjoy meeting new people every day and making links in the communities I work in. I have two young children who keep me busy, and we love to go on walks and explore the area we live. I enjoy adult colouring books and I find them so relaxing. I also love to make bread and treats, but they don’t last long at this house!
Kelly Taylor, project worker for Bradford and Calderdale
“I love my role as a project worker, because I too am a kinship carer and through my experiences over the years, I hope to be able to put into good practice and support others in their roles.” read Kelly’s full bio
Hello my name is Kelly Taylor, I am a project worker for Grandparents Plus. I live in Bradford and I am a project worker in Bradford and Calderdale. I offer support to kinship carers, and help them to feel connected within the community.
I love my role as a project worker, because I too am a kinship carer, I have an SGO for my nephew, through my experiences over the years of learning & gaining support for our family, I hope to be able to put into good practice and support others in their roles.
When im not ferrying the children back and forth from stage school, I enjoy growing fruit and veg at our allotment, and road trips with the family.
Samantha Campbell, project worker for North and South London
“I’m adopted and an adopter of three children who are now adults. I’m also a special guardian to my grandson who is 9. I use my experience when providing support for others.” read Samantha’s full bio
My name is Samantha Campbell and I’m a Project worker for Grandparents Plus in North and South London, covering Haringey, Hackney and Southwark. I work with kinship carers offering one to one support as well as running support groups in those areas.
I’m adopted and an adopter of three children who are now adults. I’m also a special guardian to my grandson who is 9. All of them have diagnosed disabilities and have encountered various challenges growing up. Through my experiences of learning how to gain support for them over the years and the challenges I have faced, I hope I can now put that to good use in providing support for others. I took on the challenge of university recently and qualified as a social worker. Having placements in the local authority on my course gave me an insight into the statutory sector and provided me with skills and understanding of how to work with Local Authorities.
I was then lucky to be offered this position with Grandparents Plus. It is a really supportive organisation and I’m really enjoying being able to support kinship carers in many different ways. In any free time I have I enjoy cinema, reading and spending time with my family and friends.
Julie Normington, project worker for Milton Keynes
“It is a privilege to work within an organisation that genuinely reflects the aspirations, needs and concerns of kinship carers.” read Julie’s full bio
My name is Julie; I’m the Kinship Connected project worker in Milton Keynes.
I have been working for Grandparents Plus for nearly a year now and what a challenging yet fulfilling year it has been. Each working day is different. Having past experience of working with both statutory and voluntary organisations has really helped me in establishing the Kinship Connected service in MK. It is a privilege to work within an organisation that genuinely reflects the aspirations, needs and concerns of kinship carers. I’m genuinely moved by the support that the kinship carers offer each other and how the peer-to-peer support network is building in Milton Keynes. There is still more to be done though and much needs to change.
As well as a busy family life I have for many years volunteered in schools, libraries and local community groups. My favourite building would be any library, my favourite pastime is a siting with a cuppa and a book. Somehow I find time to belong to three book groups (and yes we do read books!)
Maxine Campbell, project worker for North London
“As someone who hates injustice, I have a passion to see through change for all kinship carers.” read Julie’s full bio
I am Maxine, I have worked for Grandparents Plus for three years, firstly working on our lottery-funded pilot Relative Experience and now I am a Kinship Connected project worker in North London.
I am a special guardian who has been involved in championing change for kinship carers through focus groups and contributing to research and media work. As someone who hates injustice, I have a passion to see through change for all kinship carers.
Karen Davis, project worker for Kinship Ready
“I was a foster carer for over 16 years caring for children and young people and went through the process of obtaining a residence order for one of my long-term foster children.” read Karen’s full bio
My Name is Karen Davis I’m a project worker with Grandparents Plus and run Kinship Ready training and 1:1 support, as well as support groups.
I’m quite new to the organization and am looking forward to supporting and sharing my experience with kinship carers.
I was a foster carer for over 16 years with Birmingham local authority caring for children and young people aged 5 – 16 years and went through the process of obtaining a residence order for one of my long-term foster children. I then went on to work for a scheme called Teenage & Remand Fostering as a specialist foster carer for over 6 years fostering teenagers who were or about to be on tag and remand. I also cared for a number of young people experiencing adoption breakdowns.
After my fostering career I went on to work in private fostering agencies in various roles such as family resource worker, Training and recruitment coordinator, and Therapeutic support worker. I have previously lived and worked in Milton Keynes as an advocacy and independent visitor coordinator for looked after children with Spurgeons charity organisation.
I’m currently working with St Basils as a ‘supported living host’ caring for young people aged 16-19 years in my home who are homeless and Asylum seekers/Refugees, I have been doing this for last 5 years.
And just to keep me busy I have eight grandchildren (2 of whom are my daughters’ long term fostered children) One of whom lives with me, and he has recently completed his Masters in psychology. He is also my live in IT support person too!
Jane Harmer, project worker for Kinship Active, Middlesborough
“I have a deep admiration for kinship carers and am delighted to be working for Grandparents Plus, an organisation whose purpose and heart is to support kinship families to stay together.” read Jane’s full bio
I’m a project worker for Kinship Active working in Middlesbrough. Kinship Active is an exciting pilot programme which supports kinship families to take part in a range of low-cost activities, spending time together as a family and with other families, having fun and getting fit together.
From my previous experience working in the drug and alcohol field, I saw firsthand how the patience and strength of kinship carers brought much-needed stability and love to their families in times of family strain. I have a deep admiration for kinship carers and am delighted to be working for Grandparents Plus, an organisation whose purpose and heart is to support kinship families to stay together.
As a mum of four and grannie of four, I’m always busy but love to find time to nordic walk and knit – endlessly!
Karen O’Connor, project worker for Leeds and Wakefield
“Being a Project worker is both challenging and very rewarding. The kinship carers I work with are all dealing with multiple demands in their roles and being able to help, in any small way, is a privilege.” read Karen’s full bio
Hello, my name is Karen O’ Connor and I’m a project worker at Grandparents Plus. I work in West Yorkshire, across Leeds and Wakefield. I offer support to kinship carers, run support groups in the community and help to connect kinship carers across West Yorkshire.
Being a project worker is both challenging and very rewarding. The kinship carers I work with are all dealing with multiple demands in their roles and being able to help, in any small way, is a privilege.
I enjoy working for Grandparents Plus. Each day is different and I I like the way that my role continues to grow and adapt to the changing needs of carers. Grandparents Plus support not only their carers, but their employees too, and it’s fair to say that there’s a lovely bunch of people who work at the charity.
My background is in primary teaching and I enjoy walking in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside that we’re lucky to have, as well as attempting to grow plants and vegetables in the garden, as well as aiming to perfect my ‘downward dog’ with yoga.
Johanna Bernard, project worker for Islington
“My role as a Project Worker, makes me very happy, as I have the opportunity to use my experience to support others facing similar situations, offering support, guidance and sharing experience of similar challenges I’ve faced.” read Johanna’s full bio
Hi I’m Johanna. I’ve been a project worker with Grandparents Plus for two years now, I’m also a Kinship Carer, having had my Grandson from the age of four. He’ll soon be 14.
I joined Grandparents Plus as a volunteer supporting families in our befriending service, supporting Kinship carers. This was a wonderful opportunity to bond and meet other carers like myself. My background has been mostly in Education carrying out a variety of teaching roles in various sectors, colleges, community organisations, and schools.
My role as a project worker, makes me very happy, as I have the opportunity to use my experience to support others facing similar situations, offering support, guidance and sharing experience of similar challenges I’ve faced. Seeing the progress of families and their ability to improve situations and life chances is extremely rewarding.
Chris Weekes, project worker for kinship response
“Having seen the ‘highs and lows’ of kinship care I felt compelled to work for an organisation supports kinship carers and their families.” read Chris’s full bio
My name is Chris Weekes project worker for kinship response. I’m home-based and live in Gorleston, East Anglia.
I can only say what a privilege it is to work for Grandparents Plus. I semi-retired in December 2019 after being employed in a kinship team for many years. Having seen the ‘highs and lows’ of kinship care I felt compelled to work for an organisation that supports kinship carers and their families. I had always advocated for Grandparents Plus in my previous role and was delighted to hear of the new response service. Thank you to Grandparents Plus for the long-standing commitment and dedication to kinship care, oh, and my wonderful job!
Helen Hird, project worker for kinship response
“I really love my job because I am able to give some time to listen to the most pressing issues a kinship carer has, and then link them into our great range of services and support.” read Helen’s full bio
I’m really proud to be working for Grandparents Plus in my role as a kinship response project worker. I know that I’m making a difference to every kinship carer I speak to.
I receive referrals from all over England, which is exciting as I could be speaking to a grandparent in Norfolk one day to an aunt in Blackpool the next day.
I really love my job because I am able to give some time to listen to the most pressing issues a kinship carer has, and then link them into our great range of services and support. Things like advice, grants and Someone Like Me and our fantastic virtual support groups.
I especially enjoy meeting the kinship care families at our Zoom meetings as it’s a great way to connect and see each other, as well as the carers being able to meet up with people in similar situations.
I’m lucky enough to live in the middle of the beautiful Pennines and to be able to step out from my door for long walks in the woods or to practice my yoga outside… but only when it’s warm enough.
Monica Fox, project worker for kinship response
“Not only does my work allow me to speak with and support kinship carers all over England, but our services are focused on providing carers with the tools to feel empowered within their lives.” read Monica’s full bio
My name is Monica Fox, and I am a Kinship Response project worker for Grandparents Plus. Originally from Canada, I immigrated, with my cat Bijou, to England in 2011. Then in 2012, I married a lovely Scotsman and became step-mum to his then three-year-old daughter. I joined the Kinship Response team in July of 2020. My role involves registering new Grandparents Plus kinship carers and providing them with three follow up calls. Within these calls, I provide emotional support, advice, in and out of house referrals, signposting, resources, and advocacy.
Another aspect of my role is facilitating our Midlands Virtual Support Groups, also known as the Marvellous Midlands! I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed working for a charity more than I have enjoyed working for Grandparents Plus.
Not only does my work allow me to speak with and support kinship carers all over England, but our services are focused on providing carers with the tools to feel empowered within their lives. Grandparents Plus, as an employer is incredibly supportive, and I have always been blown away by the level of community and compassion management and staff have shown. I love most things sci-fi, especially the Star Trek franchise!