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.
Prior to qualifying, I was employed as an Assistant Manager working with adults with learning disabilities across two respite units in Plymouth. My work meant that I could take on a managerial role whilst simultaneously maintaining some direct work with the adults who came to stay for short breaks. I had formerly completed 2.5 years of State Registered Nursing, but didn’t enjoy the medical approach to working with people. My passion and interest has lead me to a very rewarding career in Social Care.
After graduating, I worked in a Children & Family team in Plymouth and went on to work with Asylum Seeking and Refugee families. I heard about Capstone through a mutual colleague, and decided to work initially as an external assessor, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was impressed by both the ethos and the high standards of care afforded to foster carers and their children, something which could not be achieved to the same level within the Local Authority.
During my time at Capstone, I have enjoyed the challenges and the complexities of supporting, training and managing fostering households, including parent and child placements. I have been privileged to observe and support some very positive outcomes for children placed with our foster carers, which could not have been achieved without Foster carers providing attuned re-parenting, which allows the child to re-visit and process their early trauma, whilst being held and contained in a safe environment.
Away from work, I am a parent in my own right to four children who are now aged 32, 30, 25 and 13, and as an added bonus, I have three delightful grandchildren ranging in ages from 7 down to 18 months.
In my spare time, I enjoy running, cycling, cooking and gardening. I also look after my youngest granddaughter 1 day a week. More recently I have project managed the renovation of our family home, which is nearing completion. I’m looking forward to enjoying and relaxing in it now!!
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.
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 Sarah Farquharson and have been a childrens’ Social Worker since 2012. Before re-training I worked as a solicitor specialising in Family Law both in Bristol where I’m originally from, and then in Devon when my partner and I relocated in 2003.
On qualifying as a social worker I worked for Devon Local Authority in their South Devon Child Protection team for 2 years which was a very steep learning curve! Since moving to Capstone Fostercare in 2014 I have very much enjoyed specialising in fostering and have found my previous roles and experience have served me well in this role, giving me a much broader understanding and foundation from which to support and advice my foster carers in relation to their placements and individual situations.
I feel passionately that foster carers are carrying out one of the most important roles in our society and continue to learn a lot myself from the extremely high standard of care our carers provide to their foster children. I very much prescribe to the approach Capstone takes that we are a team around the child and over the years have witnessed some fantastic outcomes for some of the most vulnerable and needy children in our community.
In my non-working hours I’m a mum of a very energetic 11 year old and love spending family time outdoors and enjoying holidays as much as we can. I enjoy going to my local small gym which gives some pay back for my other love of food and cooking!
My husband and I have travelled extensively before becoming parents, including a round the world trip over a year and many shorter trips to different countries and cultures since. As my husband runs his own building company we have also built our last two houses from scratch which also keeps me very busy and occupied with designing and decorating in the evenings and weekends!
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.
Hi my name is Ros I’m the Education Coordinator for Capstone South West, and I support carers and Capstone staff with all matters to do with education. This can involve supporting carers at school meetings, and liaising with schools and Local Authorities in support of our young people, as well as providing training for carers and staff and also for schools. I also monitor the educational progress of our young people across the south west, and many of them are doing very well! I have worked in education for thirty years, firstly as a secondary school teacher, and then in various roles as an Adviser specialising in Behaviour and attendance, working with schools and Local Authorities across southern England. Outside work I enjoy walking with my dog and photography, trips away with my husband in our motorhome, and keeping up with our two grown up children. We know that a stable, caring home environment is vital for our young people to achieve success both in and out of school, so if you think you would like to take on this challenge, give us a call.
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.