Meet the Team
The Capstone team in the South West is led by Elaine Leitch.
I’m the Regional Director for Capstone Foster care South West. I took up post on the 1st April 2017, but have been working for Capstone since September 2015 as Registered Manager. The first 18 months have been amazing, having the opportunity to meet carers and young people, seeing the difference excellent foster care can make to the lives and experiences of young people, and working with enthusiastic, motivated teams of professionals.
I’ve been a social worker for 35 years having qualified in 1982 from Keele University. I spent most of my career working in Devon and Torbay, but have also worked in the Midlands. I’ve worked for a variety of Local Authorities, as well as in the independent and voluntary sectors, working for national as well as smaller local agencies.
In my career I’ve had a variety of roles from front line child protection to Head of Commissioning. I also had the opportunity to join the NHS for five years managing integrated mental health services across Torbay and South Devon, which included inpatient services. I’ve enjoyed almost every minute and despite my experience still appreciate how much there is to learn to make our service the best it can be.
I live in Bristol, moving from Devon a few years ago and I love it. When I’m not working I have lots of interests to keep me busy. I’m a fanatical gardener, love live music and the theatre. I am also trying to learn to speak Spanish and play the Saxophone, but don’t practice as much as I should to be good at either! Best of all I love my holidays and am never too far away from planning the next one.
Hello, my name is Scott Wickers. I arrived at Capstone in June 2017 having worked with Cafcass as a Family Court Adviser and Children’s Guardian for six years. Prior to working with Cafcass I practised as a Social Worker and Service Manager for the Local Authority successfully holding several posts including child protection, children in care and fostering and adoption. My social work career has been incredibly interesting with it beginning in Barnsley in 1999 as a mental health social worker, working with adult’s subject to formal treatment plans and those requiring support in the community.
My passion lays with improving the lives of children in care. These children require skilled reparative parenting. I consider foster carers to be extra special members of the community. They have a relentless task which requires access to support and assistance by a skilled team of social work experts. Improving children’s lives and providing them with a positive experience of being a child demands a dedicated team approach. Being part of such a team with Capstone is a privilege. I’m looking forward to writing my next social work chapter with Capstone.
After qualifying in 1994, I spent the early part of my career in Mental Health working within a disability team. I later transferred into the field of Education Social Work and was involved with statutory work around disaffection and non-school attendance.
In the late 1990’s I worked as a frontline Social Worker for a busy Duty and Intake team conducting S47 Investigations with Police Child Protection colleagues. After a short period as a Duty Team Manager, I took on a role of Trust Manager within the Not For Profit Sector where I was responsible for a team of Psychologists and Counsellors delivering therapeutic support to vulnerable children and adults under 25. The service worked very closely with Local Authorities and NHS Commissioning Groups and gave me a unique opportunity to develop first-hand knowledge and understanding of children who were ‘Looked After’.
Since gaining this valuable experience, I returned to the Local Authority to manage a large multi-disciplinary team including Social Workers, Youth Workers, Teachers, Counsellors and Peripatetic Intervention Staff. The team initially delivered a range of mainly statutory support services in conjunction with colleagues from the SEN Department, however in response to fiscal austerity post 2008, I was tasked with developing a range of Traded Services to specific groups including Looked After Children who were deemed to be ‘disaffected’. This sparked my interest in fostering and, over the past 5 years, I have undertaken a number of roles including Panel Advisor /Member / Chair and, more recently Registered Manager.
Having been born and brought up in Dorset and with a passion for Leading, developing and managing teams, the role of Area Manager in Ringwood was a natural fit for me and I very much look forward to meeting and working with colleagues and Foster Carers across Capstone South West in the future.
Hi my name is Karen I’m the Area Manager (Wiltshire, Somerset, Bristol and Gloucestershire), I have been involved in fostering for more than 25 years overall. I enjoyed the experience of being a foster carer for over 7 years, and having grown up in a fostering family (parents were also foster carers) it seemed a natural progression for me to undertake social work in the field of fostering. I have worked for Independent Fostering Agencies for 17 years, much of this time spent working in the Midlands, but 6 years ago I decided to return to my ‘roots’ as I grew up in the South West and this is when I joined Capstone Foster Care. I work alongside very child centered social workers and foster carers, and embrace the whole team around the child approach taken by this agency.
Hi my name is Anna I’m the Family Support Worker (PCA)/Intervention Worker Fostering) with the South West Team. Following completion of my degree in Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies at Staffordshire University in 1997, I completed a year of a Midwifery course at Keele University and then moved on to work at Corve Dale Care in Shropshire working at a Crisis Intervention Centre for children experiencing severe difficulties in their lives and who were displaying challenging behaviour. From there my career progressed to co-ordinating a project at Stoke-on-Trent College for children in the city who had been excluded from school – working as a link supporting them in receiving their education through college courses. During this time I completed my Certificate in Person Centred Counselling at Staffordshire University. In 2003 I moved to Devon and took up a position at a High School where my roles included delivering a life skills course, teaching some Health and Social Care classes, supporting students at risk of exclusion, co-ordinating whole school work experience, covering for absent staff and I was part of the school welfare team in child protection. I joined Capstone Foster Care in September 2014 to work as a Family Support Worker (Parent and Child Arrangements) / Intervention Worker Fostering.
Meet Karen W
Hi my name is Karen I’m the Marketing Co-ordinator, I have worked for Capstone since July 2010 and I am based in the Capstone Devon Office which is located in a town called Kingsteignton. I started my journey with Capstone as an Administrator, the role was to support Carers, social workers and colleagues with administration tasks and projects. In June 2016 I took on a new role, I am now a Marketing Co-ordinator for the South West Region. I have always had a passion for marketing and now thanks to Capstone seeing my potential I am able to put all my enthusiasm and energy into developing my marketing skills. This role enables me to interact with local communities and talk to people who are interested in becoming foster carers. I explain how Capstone can help and support them with this journey. Across the South West Region, we have 4 offices, we hold open events and supporting many local charities and causes. I enjoy sharing with people our vision of building brighter futures for everyone at Capstone Foster Care.
Hi, my name is Laura Gill and I’m a Supervising Social Worker in the Devon office.
I qualified with a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work from the University of Plymouth in 2012 and then spent a year as a Family Support Worker with Capstone before moving on to my current role in 2013. Prior to studying Social Work I spent 7 years working in adult mental health services, supporting individuals as they moved back into the community.
I thoroughly enjoy my role at Capstone and working in such a child-focussed environment. It is so rewarding witnessing our carers carrying out the reparative parenting which enables our Young People to progress and thrive.
Outside of work I enjoy camping, live music, travelling and spending time with my husband, young daughter and our five cats!
Hi, I’m Tamsin, I am a supervising Social Worker in the Devon Team.
Since qualifying as a Social Worker I have worked for 5 years in statutory social work, primarily in child protection and care proceedings, before joining Capstone.
I am passionate about childhood as the foundation of the people we become, and passionate too about foster care as an opportunity to achieve positive and amazing outcomes for children who have had very difficult childhood experiences. I am an energetic and enthusiastic advocate for foster carers who, through their commitment and compassion, can have such a powerful impact in transforming young people’s lives.
I am also a Social Work Practice Educator and enjoy supporting and promoting others’ learning and understanding in the field of children’s social work, as well as continuing to develop my own knowledge, particularly in child development and attachment.
Outside of work I enjoy camping, exploring new places, activities and outings with my family and friends, and Pilates.
My name is Nicoleta, I joined the Devon team in March 2018. Originally, I come from Romania where I qualified as a social worker in 1998. My experience is in the voluntary sector in Romania for nearly 5 years, working in a residential centre, with disadvantaged children and communities and foster carers and adopters.
I moved to Plymouth in 2003 and worked in the statutory sector until 2016, mainly with children in care and foster carers. I was a supervising social worker, advanced practitioner and team manager in the fostering service in Plymouth for 9 years.
I am really pleased to be part of Capstone Foster Care now and promote the therapeutic care they are very committed to provide for children in care. I have a great admiration for foster carers who are fulfilling an extraordinary role as ‘parents’ and ‘professionals’ at the same time. I am totally committed to supporting carers and their foster children and have a positive impact on their lives.
Outside work, I enjoy singing, playing guitar and spending time with my husband and my two young children.
Hi my name is Debbie (Debs) and I’ve joined the Capstone team here in Bristol as a Referrals Coordinator. You could say that I ‘ve moved about a bit Devon, Lincolnshire, Cyprus, Surrey, but I am originally from Gloucestershire, so I have come back to my roots so to speak. I have had quite a variable career, from being a sole charge groom for 5 very large fit horses and the farm manager to being a PA/Office Manager. I’ve had links to foster care before, I was the Foster Care Course Commissioner for Surrey County Council, so I feel really quite passionate about trying to make children and young people’s lives better by finding them some stability in their lives in the form of a new home/family to provide the nurturing that many of them need. Outside of work I love nothing more than spending time with my family, playing hockey, riding horses, and socialising.
Hi – my name is Tina. I have worked for Capstone since April 2009 and I am based in the Capstone Somerset Office which is located in a small village on the outskirts of Frome. Although my role within Capstone is very varied, I have two key roles, both of which I am passionate about! Firstly, I am the Panel Administrator for the Somerset office. This is a role which brings me into contact with many of the applicants who apply to become foster carers, particularly those in the Somerset and Wiltshire areas. I offer admin support to your assessor, with whom I am in regular contact with and I am always on the end of a phone if you have any queries. Secondly, I am the Training Coordinator for the South West region. Training and personal development is something that Capstone has at the heart of its agency values, providing newly approved foster carers and experienced carers opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge by offering a wide range of essential training subjects and current, relevant and informative learning to enable carers to support the children and young people they care for. I will keep in regular contact with you so that you are informed of any training events which you might be interested in attending in your area. Outside of Capstone, I enjoy spending time with my husband and family and of course, my two dogs!
My name is Sonja, I am a Supervising Social Worker in the Somerset team. Throughout my career I have always worked with children and young people and initially trained as a primary school teacher, but from this I went on to work in residential childcare. Since qualifying as a social worker I have had a role in schools and colleges supporting children and young people at risk of disengaging from education and then worked for seven years in a North Somerset Children and Families team mainly in the area of child protection and court proceedings. I joined Capstone in 2011 and have thoroughly enjoyed working with foster carers and seeing the great outcomes that can be achieved for young people when they are in a stable, supportive home.
Out of work I love country walks, swimming, travelling as much as possible and spending time with my family and friends.
Hi, I’m Charlotte, I am the Referrals Manager for Capstone South West and although I am based in the Bristol office, I cover the referrals for all 4 of the offices across the South West. My role in a nutshell is to find you, the carers, a placement – sounds simple, but matching is everything and I endeavour to find the very best possible match for you, your family and of course the right family for the young person.
I have been with the company since January 2004 so have many years’ experience and I am always inspired and motivated to find a caring, nurturing home for each young person, it is very rewarding to be able to make decisions which can lead to children having positive outcomes.
I have been with Capstone for many years now as I really enjoy building strong working relationships with colleagues, local authorities and carers alike. Outside of work I love to spend time with friends & family, my partner & I have 2 boys who are normally up to some sort of mischief, together we like to travel, go to concerts and socialise.
Before coming to the Capstone Hampshire Team, I worked for Wiltshire Council in the Children in Care Team for 18 months and prior to that I worked for two years in Safeguarding in Plymouth and Wiltshire so this is a new adventure for me! One that I am looking forward to.
So enough about the work stuff! I live in Wilton which is a lovely little quaint village just outside of Salisbury. I am keen runner and Ceroq dancer. I have just entered myself for the 10 mile Salisbury race in April. I thought I would start my new job with a new personal challenge!. I also love Yoga, meditation and cooking healthy vegan meals. God I sound really healthy don’t I? Don’t worry I balance this out with a quirky sense of humour.
My name is Jon Hopley, and I joined Capstone in August 2017, having previously worked as a Supervising Social Worker with another Independent Fostering Agency.
I qualified with a Master’s Degree in Social work in 2015, but have been working within the fostering sector since 2014. Prior to working in foster care, I worked in children’s residential units for several years, and with adults living with physical impairments and mental health issues.
I am Alan and I have joined the Ringwood Office as the Office Administrator.
My career background started way back in the 90’s as a YTS apprentice mechanic. I left mechanics behind once computers got involved in cars as felt I was more of a fitter than a diagnostic mechanic.
In 1997 was the start of my illustrious admin career working for the Dept. of Work & Pension, working in various departments and Jobcentres over a 10-year stint before Government cut backs and Jobcentre closures. Then in 2007 I moved to work for Borough of Poole – Adult Social Care and then Children Social Care as Admin Officer working with 75-80 Social Workers & Occupational Therapists.
Outside of work I have 7-year-old (going on 17) daughter who keeps me grounded and up to date with all the latest crazes and things she wants daddy to buy.I like to play darts – I am no Phil Taylor but good stress reliever if your day has not gone to plan! I can also be found most weekends at my local Rugby club, either pulling a few pints behind the bar to putting the white lines on the pitches for the weekend games.
Hello, my name is Emily Harding and I am the Recruitment Coordinator for South West Region. I joined Capstone Foster Care in February 2018 after quickly realising that being in the foster care sector was something I wanted to be a part of. My role is to contact and greet you at the initial enquiry stage, and then to ask questions to determine whether your background and current situation is well suited to becoming a foster carer with Capstone. Our initial conversation also gives you the enquirer the opportunity to ask questions relating to fostering and our agency to ensure that you and your family are well equipped for the journey ahead.
My initial background has been in the animal sector, having worked in a local veterinary surgery for 4 years as a Hospital Assistant and then progressing to becoming a Senior Animal Care Assistant at a brand new RSPCA centre. As well as starting a new role at Capstone I’m also organising my wedding, planning a honeymoon, renovating my new home and arranging a motorbike tour of Scotland with my partner!