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.  Angie took on the role of Executive Director in May 2021.

Ravinder Kaur

Trainer Consultant

Ravinder is a qualified social worker with over 27 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 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 and is a founding member of AFKA Scotland.

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 10 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.

Kate Richardson

Manager/Practitioner, Scotland’s Adoption Register

Kate has been the Manager/Practitioner of Scotland’s Adoption Register since 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.

Megan Sneddon

Administrative Communications Co-Ordinator, Scotland’s Adoption Register

Megan joined the team in the summer of 2022. After completing her BA with Honours in Marine Biology, she was appointed an internship with Stirling Council as an Open Data Publishing intern, after a year in this role she moved on to a business support role within the Adult Social Care team within Stirling and Clackmannanshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership. During her time in this role, she gained invaluable knowledge regarding social care/ social work procedures including “Adult Support and Protection” and the “Adults with Incapacity Act”. In her two years in the role, she minuted transition meetings for individuals who were moving on from Children and Families to Adult Services. When COVID-19 hit, the role changed and she also became part of the Business Matching Unit in Stirling Council and within this role, 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.

Elizabeth Ross

Trainer Consultant

Elizbeth joined the staff team on 1 November 2022.  She has over 30 years experience working as a social worker and Manager for a Local Authority within Children and Families. Since 2009 she managed Adoption, Fostering and Kinship teams and was a Panel Adviser.

Elizabeth is passionate about working in partnership with others to improve opportunities and outcomes for children and young people who are care experienced.

Andrew Burns

Lead Researcher

Andrew joined the team in February 2023 as Lead Researcher to support and develop the research activities AFKA Scotland undertakes across a range of projects.  He joined the team from The University of Stirling where he still works 2 days a week as a Research Fellow conducting research in residential childcare.  Previously, Andrew worked for the Local Authority in Glasgow for 20 years, predominantly in frontline drug and alcohol services including roles with a particular focus on children and families.  He left that service in 2015 and has worked in different research and teaching posts since then alongside completing his PhD in 2020.