Our Team

Our multi-disciplinary team has a wealth of experience and up-to-date expertise in adoption, kinship and fostering practice and delivers a wide range of training, consultancy, workshops and conferences to assist professionals to develop the knowledge and skills they require when working in this specialist area.

Angie Gillies

Executive Director

Angie is a Social Worker who has practiced in family placement services for 25 years across local authority, voluntary and independent sectors. With experience in managing adoption, fostering and kinship care including intensive fostering services and developing specialist remand and treatment foster care services with multi agency partners, Angie has an interest in developing policy and working alongside Managers and Practitioners to improve practice across the sector.

Maggie Grant

Research Associate

Maggie leads AFKA’s varied range of research and knowledge exchange activities, including facilitating the Research Forum for researchers at universities and third sector organisations across Scotland. She has worked in research related to family-based care for 15 years, including studies on midlife outcomes for adopted people, adoption support, kinship care during the pandemic, maltreatment in foster care, support services for birth parents and services for unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children. She also works at the University of Stirling, where she is currently working on Permanently Progressing?, a longitudinal study following up all children who became looked after age 5 or under in Scotland in 2012-2013, led by Dr Helen Whincup.

Ravinder Kaur

Trainer Consultant

Ravinder is a qualified social worker with over 25 years’ childcare experience in local authorities and latterly in the voluntary sector as one of the founding members of AFKA Scotland. Ravinder is the course leader for two postgraduate courses: Securing Children’s Futures (all aspects of permanence) and Relative Matters (kinship care), both accredited by the University of Strathclyde. Ravinder has many years of experience delivering a range of training and workshops as well as chairing adoption and fostering panels for several agencies. Ravinder has also been an Agency Decision Maker. Additionally, she facilitates the Family Placement Forum, which promotes good practice for family placement social workers.

Rhona Pollock

Legal Consultant

Rhona provides legal input across AFKA Scotland’s services. She facilitates the Legal Adoption and Fostering Forum and organises an annual conference on current legal issues relevant to adoption, fostering and looked after children. Rhona co-convenes the family placement consortia in West of Scotland, North-East of Scotland and Pan-Scotland. She also delivers a range of training, consultations and workshops. Rhona regularly speaks at and chairs legal and social work conferences. She provides the legal notes for the Adoption and Fostering Journal published quarterly by CoramBAAF. Rhona qualified as a solicitor in Glasgow and practiced in private practice, commerce and the public sector in London and Scotland. She has lectured at various colleges and universities in Scotland on child protection and child welfare law. She was a Reporter to the Children’s Panel for 20 years,course tutor with West Lothian College, training children’s hearing panel members and a Panel Practice Advisor with the Fife Area Support Team for Children’s Hearings Scotland.

Brenda Reilly

Business Support and Finance Manager

Brenda is based in the office and manages all administrative and business aspects of AFKA Scotland’s work. She is responsible for all matters relating to finance, including reporting to the Board of Trustees and works closely in conjunction with the Executive Director. Brenda co-ordinates the membership services, delivers on-going marketing and communication about AFKA Scotland’s services, and also manages the postgraduate courses and consultancy projects. Brenda previously worked for BAAF for 12 years.

 

Polly Cowan

Trainer Consultant

Polly joined the staff team on 1 August 2022.  Polly is a social worker with over 17 years’ experience and has worked in local authority settings in London and Edinburgh and currently works as a part-time Practice Manager at Scottish Adoption. She will be teaching on the postgraduate courses, supporting the practitioner forums and providing training. She is in the process of completing her PhD at the University of Edinburgh, which has been funded via a scholarship from the School of Social and Political Science.  Her research has focussed on adoption breakdown across Scotland, and she is looking forward to disseminating these findings to assist practice. She sits as a tribunal member for the Additional Supports Need Tribunal and for the General Medical Council.

Jessica Cleary

Researcher

Jessica joined the team in September 2020 as a Researcher to support the research activities AFKA Scotland undertakes across a range of projects as well as providing research updates and support to our practice forums and.  She is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Stirling, funded by the ESRC, which you can read more about here.

Previous to her role at AFKA Scotland, Jessica gained invaluable experience during a research internship with the Independent Care Review, in partnership with Evaluate Support Scotland, where she worked within the Data and Evidence Team tasked with evaluating and evidencing the methodology used to conduct the national review of Scotland’s ‘care system’. Jessica has also recently completed a research fellowship funded by the British Association of Social Work reviewing the role of social workers during disasters in light of the pandemic.

Cristina Costanza

Administrative Assistant

Cristina provides administrative support to the Business Support and Finance Manager on a day-to-day basis and supports the overall work of the organisation. She has a previous background in graphic design, in 2005 worked as Social Care Worker for few years for the City of Edinburgh Council, and since then she has been working in the voluntary sector with different organisations.

Mark Hardy

Researcher

Mark started with AFKA Scotland in September 2021 as a Researcher, supporting AFKA’s research capacity across a range of projects and providing research updates and support to practice forums.  He has previously published research on recording practice in residential childcare and was part of the Social Work Scotland-funded research project Exploring the changing nature of adoption work: Reflections on the 1968 Act.  Mark is currently undertaking a PhD on poverty and social work assessment and decision-making, supported through an Alice Brown Scholarship from the University of Edinburgh.

Before joining AFKA, Mark spent ten years as a local authority social worker in a children and families practice team in Edinburgh, and five years working in residential childcare, predominantly secure care.  He was seconded to Edinburgh Napier University as a Lecturer-Practitioner from 2015 to 2018, teaching child and adult protection.  Mark is a qualified Practice Teacher, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, tutors and lectures on social work qualifying courses, and has been a board member of Canongate Youth for over 15 years.

Anne Thom

Kinship Care Consultant

Anne Thom is the Kinship Care Consultant for AFKA Scotland and Kinship Care Advice Service for Scotland. Anne joined the team in Oct 2020 and has 15 years experience as a social worker and manager in fostering, adoption and kinship care; most recently managing a kinship care service in Renfrewshire Council.

Anne is committed to the promise and is looking forward to her role in supporting the workforce by sharing good practice in kinship care through forums, consultations, meetings and training workshops with the aim of improving outcomes for kinship families.

Kate Richardson

Manager/Practitioner, Scotland’s Adoption Register

Kate has been the Manager/Practitioner of Scotland’s Adoption Register since in 2020. She qualified as a Social Worker in 2009 following many years working in residential child care and adult mental health. She spent time as a Children and Families practice team social worker for City of Edinburgh Council before moving to the council’s Family Based Care Department to focus on adoption and permanent fostering. Prior to moving to Scotland’s Adoption Register, Kate was the Lead Practitioner for managing the transitions of children from interim placements to their adoptive and permanent fostering homes.

Carol Laird

Staying Connected Project Co-ordinator

Carol has worked in local authority social work for 22 years. Initially, this included residential childcare and different roles in addiction services, before becoming a qualified social worker in 2008. Since then, Carol has primarily worked in children’s services, including a Children and Families post, a specialist parenting assessment role, and for the last 5 years she has worked in a Fostering and Adoption service. Carol is passionate about supporting children’s transitions to all forms of permanence; to ensure the children, and adults, involved feel safe, valued and heard during these crucial events.

Megan Sneddon

Administrative Communications Co-Ordinator, Scotland’s Adoption Register

I joined the team in the summer of 2022. After completing my BA with Honours in Marine Biology, I was appointed an internship with Stirling council as an Open Data Publishing intern, after a year in this role I moved on to a business support role within the Adult Social Care team within Stirling and Clackmannanshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership. During my time in this role, I gained invaluable knowledge regarding social care/ social work procedures including “Adult Support and Protection” and the “Adults with Incapacity Act”. In my two years in the role I minuted transition meetings for individuals who were moving on from Children and Families to Adult Services. When covid-19 hit my role changed and I also became part of the Business Matching Unit in Stirling Council and within the role I developed a new procedure for resourcing respite for young people and adults and helped to resource care at home packages for older adults, individuals with mental illness and those who had a learning disability.