Emma Lewell-Buck is the Labour Member of Parliament for South Shields. Before entering the House of Commons, Emma worked as a child protection social worker. She also served as Councillor for the Primrose Ward in South Tyneside, and was the lead member for adult social care. Emma is the first woman, and the first person to have been born within South Shields, to represent her constituency. She has been a member of the House of Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and the Work and Pensions Select Committee, until January she was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Home Secretary. Emma is now a Shadow Minister in the Communities and Local Government team.
I am a social worker who has worked with children and their families for over forty years. Initially I worked for a Local Authority (Sefton MBC) as social worker, Senior Social Worker and then Area Manager leading a fieldwork team covering everything to do with Children and Families social work. Before leaving the Local Authority, after 27 years, I had become Service Manager for Looked After Children managing everything from Children’s homes to Adoption with Fostering, Leaving Care and a team working to avoid children coming into care as part of my brief.
I then transferred across to the ‘Dark Side’ – as the Group Operations Manager and subsequently CEO for an independent provider where we eventually delivered residential child care, fostering, education and therapeutic services to children with a whole spectrum of needs. Everything was judged to be ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Good’ by Ofsted and not yet ‘Good Enough’ by me and my colleagues. I was made redundant in 2015 after a change of ownership and I would say (well I would wouldn’t I?) of ethos too.
Since then I have worked independently supporting residential and fostering providers and undertaking commissions from (variously) the Independent Children’s Homes Association, the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care and ‘Action for Children’.
I have been involved in ECLCM since day 1 and plan to be there on whatever day it is that we achieve the right for all children in residential care to ‘Stay Put’ if they so choose.
Rob has worked within social care services for over 30 years, predominantly supporting children and adults who have autism and learning disabilities and their families. Rob is a qualified social worker and has worked within the public and independent sector and has a real sense of justice, he is also very passionate that all young people have equal rights and we support their development rather than hinder them. Rob has been a Board member of ECLCM since May 2015 but a consistent supporter of the campaign since it started.
Nikki Ledingham has previously worked throughout the UK within social care, education and military welfare settings before becoming a registered social worker. Nikki is currently working in the Children and Young Peoples Service on the Duty and Assessment team in Rotherham . Nikki is a care experienced member of the ECLCM board having spent time in foster care as a young child.
Denise (Dee) Smalley
Denise qualified as a social worker in 2004 and for most of this time has worked with teenagers in care and supported foster carers in their important role. Prior to this Denise worked for a number of years for the NHS supporting adults with learning and physical disabilities and with older people. In 2014 Denise was awarded a BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care Practice (Child & Adolescent Mental Health) and since then has developed her experience and skills in the therapeutic support of young people and adults.
More recently Denise has been working with an adoption charity supporting adults affected by adoption, largely supporting adopted adults and birth mums. Over her time working with young people in care Denise has seen the positive difference that meaningful relationships and careful support into independence can make to young people transitioning into adulthood. She has also seen up close the consequences of service cuts and lack of resources that face growing numbers of young people in, and leaving care. Like all on the ECLCM board Denise would like to see the Government commit to ensuring that young people leaving care have the support they need, when they need it.
It seems common sense to afford young people in residential care, equal opportunities to those in foster care. Often young people in residential care will have experienced more frequent moves and as result greater instability through their childhood and adolescence. It does not make sense to offer less support and stability to these young people, knowing what we do about the impact of adverse childhood experiences on longer term outcomes. We must get it right for this small but important group of young people. Denise has supported the ECLCMs team since 2013 and is proud to have recently been asked to join the board.
Delyth Edwards – information to be added
Jane worked for Sefton Local Authority Children’s Services department for over 25 years in various supporting roles to the social work teams. Jane is the Board’s administrator