Helen Little, Training, Consultancy and Events Team ManagerHelen Little

Helen joined CoramBAAF in 2023. Latterly, she was Learning and Development Manager for almost 8 years at Langley House Trust. The learning and development function she developed for Langley now offers an extensive programme for staff and managers whether that be face to face, virtual, e-learning or coaching. Reflecting on her career to date, she can see that this new role for CoramBAAF draws on the many parts of it from the beginning in the hospitality and conferences industry to running her own learning and development consultancy for over 18 years, designing and delivering a range of programmes for clients across many sectors.

Louise Coombs, Senior Training Administrator Louise Coombs

Louise joined CoramBAAF in 2021 with fourteen years of administrative experience. Over the years she has worked as a senior administrator for an Independent Fostering Agency and as a care home administrator.  Louise manages the administration of our commissioned training, open courses and consultancy service and is an Advice Line Adviser twice a week. Louise graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a social work degree and is currently working towards registering with Social Work England. In addition to her roles at CoramBAAF, Louise is a Mental Health First Aider EDI Champion and attends monthly EDI forums and planning groups.

Liam Hoskins, Events OfficerLiam Hoskins

Liam joined CoramBAAF in 2023 after assisting with Coram's Christmas fundraising appeal that year. With professional experience as a copywriter and digital marketer within startups, as well as previous roles aimed at widening participation in the education sector, Liam brings valuable expertise to the organisation. As an events officer, he is deeply passionate about utilising our platform to advance equality, diversity, and inclusion within practice, while also shining a spotlight on current and future issues in the children and families sector. 

Jane Roberts, Administrative Assistant (Training and Events) Jane Roberts

Jane is our Administrative Assistant (Training and Events). Prior to working at CoramBAAF, she ran training events for another charitable organisation. Jane’s background is working with children, as a qualified nursery nurse working in a variety of nurseries and later as a qualified playworker in a variety of outdoor and indoor environments. Jane has also worked closely with social workers in Family Service Units to benefit children and families. Jane has delivered a variety of training from Introductory to Level 3 courses to Early Years Workers and Playworkers.

Abena Mpiani, Administrative Assistant (Training and Events) Abena Mpiani

Abena joined our Training and Events team in October 2023 with over fifteen years of experience as an administrator working across continents with government bodies, charities and within educational and social care settings. A graduate of Middlesex University Business School with a Master’s degree in Business Administration, her career has spanned a number of significant administrative and operational roles, including working as a PA for Ministers at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Climate Change conferences as an Event Planner. She helped to set up NGO in Ghana which is still going strong today. 

Abena has been a foster carer for four years. She cares for children with complex emotional and behavioural needs and is also mentor for 11-13 year olds who are placed in foster care. Abena finds this work rewarding and is a strong advocate for the children and young people are in care.

Associate trainers

We are privileged to have associate trainers with such a breadth of professional expertise and experience within adoption, fostering and kinship. Whether in person or online they deliver high quality consultancy and training, bringing a wealth of invaluable practical experience of the sector. 

Alison Davis 

Alison Davis is CQSW qualified and a registered social worker who holds anAlison Davis M.A in Management. Alison has been a social worker for over 30 years, including operating as a senior manager in a local authority. She has substantial experience in the field of childcare social work, specialising in fostering, adoption and safeguarding, including being the Agency Decision Maker. She also worked for many years as an adoption counsellor. 

 Alison undertakes independent social work, chairing reviews, disruption meetings, and child appreciation days, as well as doing complaint investigations, and is a strategic advisor for NHS Devon. Alison currently chairs two local authority fostering panels and has been a member of adoption panels. Whilst also being the author of our Good Practice Guide, The Role of the Supervising Social Worker. She is a mentor for Exeter University students who are considering careers in the field of social care. Alison is available to undertake training in the South West. 


Andrew Maynard Andrew Maynard

Andrew is a qualified social worker with many years practical experience. He has worked for many years as a principle lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University and London Metropolitan University, managing social work courses, the learning experience, the department and teaching modules across the curriculum. His area of specialism and expertise is predominantly in child care, but specialises in anti-racist, anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice, providing training courses right across the range of subjects in this area. Additionally, he has had works published in this area and in ethics and values.



Dr Carolyn Sampeys

Dr Carolyn Sampeys is a Community Paediatrician and Designated Doctor forDr Carolyn Sampneys Safeguarding with the National Safeguarding Team, Public Health Wales NHS Trust. She has a professional leadership role across Wales for NHS staff working in adoption and with Looked after children (LAC). She has 22 years’ experience as Named Doctor for adoption, fostering and LAC in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and as Medical Adviser in adoption and fostering to two local authorities and a Regional Adoption Collaborative in South Wales. Carolyn was chair of CoramBAAF UK Health Group for 8 years and is co- editor of the CoramBAAF publication: Promoting the Health of Children in Public Care. She represents the NHS on the Wales National Adoption Service Advisory Group, the National Fostering Framework Steering Group and the Ministerial Advisory Group; Improving Outcomes for Children.


Elaine Dibben Elaine Dibben

Elaine has worked in adoption and fostering for over 30 years having qualified as a social worker in 1988. Elaine has worked as a practitioner and a manager for Local Authorities and a Voluntary Adoption Agency. She joined BAAF in 2004 and set up and managed the Independent Review Mechanism for 5 years before moving across into a Consultant role in the Policy, Research and Development Team for CoramBAAF.  

She currently chairs two fostering panels and until recently a Local Authority adoption panel. She has authored or co-authored several Good Practice guides for CoramBAAF including Undertaking an Adoption Assessment, Completing a child's permanence report, The Role of Fostering for Adoption in Achieving Early Permanence for Children, Adoption by foster carers and Parent and Child Fostering. She is responsible for designing and revising the core CoramBAAF templates for adoption reports. She has also undertaken case reviews with a focus on early permanence and chaired adoption disruption meetings. 

Fareena Shaheed Fareena Shaheed

Fareena began her social work career in 1992 with a voluntary organisation supporting adults to live independently. Since qualifying in 1996 she has worked in the field of Children & Families, encompassing Local Authority practice and a long period in Cafcass. She became an Independent Practitioner in 2009. Fareena has always been a strong advocate for children’s rights and the rights of disadvantaged groups in society. She has previously held the position of Vice-Chair of the management committee for SAHARA, a refuge for Asian women fleeing domestic abuse, and undertook the role of a trustee for Platform51, an organisation working with disadvantaged young women. Her areas of expertise include assessment, child protection, court work, care planning, quality assurance, practice development, Action Learning Set facilitation, training design and delivery. Fareena holds a BA (Hons) in Social Policy & Administration, an MSc in Social Work Studies, and a Professional Certificate in Management (Health & Social Care).


Dr Gemma North Gemma North

Dr Gemma North is a researcher, training consultant and coach. She has extensive experience in working with individuals and groups as a social worker and educator in a range of settings such as universities, charities, social enterprises and local authorities. Gemma’s expertise lies in emotions and trauma, gender, neurodiversity and organisational culture. She has published on a range of issues including her doctoral research about working with emotional abuse in child protection settings, autistic women, well-being and mental health. Most recently Gemma has worked with CoramBAAF and the University of Stirling on the research project ‘Helping Separated Children to Thrive during Covid-19’. Gemma is committed to meaningful inclusion; enabling people to fulfil their potential and improve their outcomes.


Hedwig Verhagen Hedwig Verhagen

Hedwig is a therapeutic social worker who has worked in adoption and special guardianship support services in LA and VAA environments since qualifying as a social worker in 2010. She was part of the small team who set up a Centre of Excellence in Adoption Support partnership service in 2013, which later became the Centre for Adoption Support at Adoption Matters. Hedwig’s therapeutic work is informed by Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP), as well as body-based approaches. Her areas of special interest are Child to Parent Violence and Aggression and the experiences of adopted young people and adults. She is currently undertaking research into birth parents’ experiences of trauma.

Jacqui Lawrence Jacqui Lawrence

Jacqui has worked within social care sector for over 30 years and as Social Worker in the children and families sector for over 20 years. She currently works as an independent Social Worker and within the education setting as a senior leader and safeguarding lead, bridging the gap between education and social care, a role she is very passionate about. She has been a community school governor for over 12 years. Jacqui worked for CoramBAAF as a Trainer and Consultant for over 10 years; specialising in fostering and has contributed to various CoramBAAF forms, publications and innovative projects. She is interested in managing team restructures and exploring diversity within social care. Jacqui sits on fostering panels including the IRM panel and is a member of the stakeholders panel for the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care and bridging the gap of research and evidenced based practice. She covers the Birmingham area, London, South and South East areas. 


Joan HuntJoan Hunt

Joan has provided training and consultancy for a range of Independent Agencies and Local Authorities and within this capacity facilitated training on a number of child care, fostering and adoption focused subjects to professionals, family members, foster carers and adoptive parents. These have covered a diverse range of subjects; separation and loss, attachments, the Secure Base model, therapeutic re-parenting, behaviour management, life story work,  managing food issues, assessing sibling groups, parenting teens, parenting siblings, direct work with children, panel training, cultural diversity, internet safety, supervising social workers, fostering reviews, disruption training, child development, caring for children who have been sexually abused, supporting children in education, and parent and child Arrangements. Joan also undertaken consultancy work including chairing disruptions, life story literature review, and parent to parent peer mentoring. 


Jo Woolf Jo Woolf

Jo has been working with children and families for over 25 years, in Local Authority and community nurseries, as a Social Worker, as a Psychotherapist, and as a trainer and consultant. She delivers training around the country and internationally to staff in Local Authorities, voluntary organisations, governments and for foster carers and adopters. Training topics Jo delivers include: all aspects of safeguarding; attachment and secure base; trauma and addictions; children's rights; equality, diversity and identity and the needs of the child in care. 


Laura PayneLaura Payne

Laura Payne is a qualified Social Worker and Social Work Manager with over 25 years experience in Family Placement. Laura worked for Nottingham City Council from 1992 until 2012 as a Social Worker, Panel Advisor and latterly as Principal Manager. Between 2012 and 2021 Laura had Management and Senior Mangement roles in two different Voluntary Adoption Agencies in the East Midlands. Laura now works as an independent social worker, trainer, mentor and consultant specialising in adoption and fostering. Laura has a keen interest in the development of evidence-based assessment skills, assessing and supporting sibling placements, and post adoption contact. She has been involved in Adoption Support pre and post placement for many years and has worked extensively with adopted adults. She especially enjoys delivering in person training and is happy to travel. 

Lindy WoottonLindy Wootton

Lindy Wootton possesses over 35 years of valuable experience working with people in the voluntary and public sectors, serving as a trainer, practitioner, manager, project leader, mediator, and restorative justice practitioner. After qualifying as a social worker, she initially worked in child protection before transitioning to adoption. In 2013, she joined CCS Adoption, where she took on diverse roles, including managing early permanence projects and the life story work service – Sharing Stories, as well as handling assessment, training, post-adoption support, and agency decision maker. In 2022, Lindy left CCS Adoption to become an independent social work consultant, undertaking work for the National Adoption Strategy Team and delivering training as an associate trainer for CoramBAAF. Lindy holds a BSc in Social Administration, MSc in Criminal Justice Policy, MSc in Social Work, and is a qualified mediator. 

Mandeep Sahejpal 

Mandeep works as an Independent Social Work consultant. She has extensive experience of working in fostering, adoption, and children and families services. Her work experience includes working alongside foster carers and prospective adopters, from the pre-approval stage and through to assessment and post approval. She investigates complaints on behalf of Local Authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies. Mandeep also has experience chairing fostering and adoption panels, carrying out the role of agency decision maker. In addition, she chairs complex foster carer reviews and supports agencies to prepare for inspections. Mandeep has also worked as a Quality Assurance and Safeguarding Manager for a fostering agency, which has involved developing and reviewing policies, procedures and practice guidance that underpins the work of the agency, and has supported agencies with the preparation of inspections She has delivered training, to social work students, staff, foster carers and adopters and is also a qualified practice educators supporting final year social work students in local authority placements. 

Marrianne Palin

Marrianne qualified as a social worker in 2002, and with a wealth of experience in child protection and family placement social work. She holds a degree in social work, along with a PGCE. Since 2016, she has been working as a trainer while simultaneously practicing in the field. Apart from her role at CoramBAAF, Marianne serves as an associate trainer for AFKA Cymru and works part-time in adoption. During her tenure with AFKA Cymru, she contributed to a number of National Adoption Service Wales' good practice guides. Marianne's primary areas of expertise encompass fostering, adoption, permanency planning, and life story work. 

Sandra RussellSandra Russell

Sandra Russell has 30 years expertise in fostering and adoption as a Social Worker. She has been a Children’s Guardian and Reporting Officer in care and adoption cases and is an adoptive parent. She is an experienced manager who enjoys the training and development of staff and teams with particular skills in team building, motivation, change management and working with diversity. Sandra has taught social work and practice teaching as well as Counselling and Psychotherapy to MA level. She has also been a Practice Teaching Award assessor for the Open University. She also undertakes face to face therapeutic work with individuals, couples, families and groups in private practice.