Our board of trustees

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Our trustees come from all walks of life and all parts of the UK. Elected by our members, they have a wide range of skills and talents, enabling them to manage The Fostering Network effectively. They are all passionate about improving foster care for children and young people in the UK, and about the role of The Fostering Network in achieving this.

Trustees are custodians of an organisation and govern its strategic direction. Our elected trustees are passionate about making a difference and improving foster care for children and young people in the UK, and they bring skills and experience which enable them to govern a successful charity and democratic membership organisation like The Fostering Network. With a turnover of more than £7 million per year, more than 100 staff and tens of thousands of members, the organisation needs business brains and strategic thinkers on its board.

2016 trustee elections

As there were four eligible nominations for four vacancies this year, all nominees will automatically become trustees, and there will be no election. These new members to the trustee board will be confirmed at The Fostering Network's Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday 12 December in London, and their details will appear on this page shortly after.

What is expected of trustees

Trustees are elected for a five-year term, and are expected to attend four board meetings in London each year. In addition, each trustee sits on one of two sub-committees of the board, which each meet quarterly in London. Board-related expenses are paid. Trustees also support staff by attending a range of other events.

In addition to using their skills and experience to help guide and shape the direction of the organisation, being a trustee can also bring personal and professional benefits. These include learning about the management and strategic decision making of a charity, working with a diverse group of people with the same common goal, enhanced employability and the satisfaction of ensuring that The Fostering Network is making the biggest possible difference for foster carers and fostered children.

Our current trustees

Susanna Daus (chair)

Susanna has specialised in fostering and adoption since the 1980s, and is now a senior manager in a local authority. Susanna was elected chair of the board of trustees in December 2015.

Helen Holgate (vice chair)

Helen and her family have been fostering since 2006. Helen is a counsellor and trainer with experience in research and has been a practitioner and manager. She was involved in strategy while working in the NHS, and governance as a school governor.​

Mervyn Erskine (treasurer)​

Mervyn has been a foster carer since 2001, and recently retired as director of a large computing services company. He and his wife have fostered more than 50 children.

Julie Barclay-Clark 

Julie has fostered since 2009 with her family specialising in working with children with special needs. She has previously been a trustee for Children 1st - West Berkshire and holds a first class honours degree in Business Management and Marketing.

Gregory De Smidt

Gregory is registered manager for a small independent fostering agency with a good knowledge of service delivery in the UK. 
Gregory has delivering The Skills to Foster training for a number of years and has experience of providing respite care.

Ian Dixon

Ian is an independent fostering consultant. He has more than 31 years of social work experience, in both the public and private sector.

Richard Field

Richard has worked with children in care as a teacher and as an educational psychologist since 1999. Alongside this, Richard is a supported lodgings carer for the Albert Kennedy Trust and a foster carer for the London borough of Southwark.

Daisy-May James

Daisy-May is a social worker who fostered for many years. She brings valuable insight, knowledge and understanding from her role as a social worker and foster carer.

Nigel McCartney

Nigel fosters with his wife and two children. The family has experience of autism and cerebral palsy in school aged children.
Nigel has run his own technology company since 1991 and has 15 years’ experience as a school governor.

Janet Smith

Janet was brought up in a fostering family and worked as a social worker for a number of different Scottish local authorities and a voluntary adoption agency from 1974 until 2015. Janet took up the role of chair of the Scottish advisory committee in October 2015.

Stanley Byrne (co-opted trustee)

Stanley was elected in October 2009 and has been fostering for many years. He is serving as liaison officer for Harrow Foster Care Association. He has won the Who Cares Trust award for Fostering, 2005, and Harrow Mayor's Special Award for fostering.

Gary Pickles (co-opted trustee)Gary is an experienced social worker who is currently director of Raising Aspirations which campaigns to raise the profile of the foster carer. He has been a supported lodging provider and was a member of The Fostering Network Mockingbird Family Model project board.