Our board of trustees

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.

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

Mervyn Erskine (Chair) 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 around 100 children.
Chris Pope

Chris is a foster carer for twin boys with complex needs. Previously a training development manager and adviser in the RAF and in local government, he has also been a local authority foster panel member.

He has more than 30 years of experience as a governor in schools, academies and colleges. As a trustee, Chris aims to represent the views and opinions of foster families, carers and children, and to support and promote the objectives of The Fostering Network.

Jonathan Walsh

Jonathan grew up as one of nine children and together with his wife became a foster carer in 2012. As a foster carer, he enjoys giving children a home and providing them with some of the support he took for granted when growing up.

Jonathan works as a property solicitor and has been a charity trustee for Bagbooks since 2007. As a trustee for The Fostering Network, Jonathan wants to ensure that the wonderful, unsung work of foster carers, as he says, is well supported.

Nigel McCartney

Nigel fosters silbling groups with his wife and his two children who are at university. As a family they have experience of a wide range of age groups and levels of trauma. They undertook a six month course in therapeutic fostering which they found fantastically helpful.

Currently, Nigel is an education champion for children in care within Suffolk and has been a school governor/chair of governors for more than 15 years. He also sits on the Suffolk foster carers' retention committee. In his day job he runs a technology/IT company he started over three decades ago. His passion as a trustee is to make fostering in the UK a recognised professional role to help children in care get the very best life chances. 

Caroline Malcom

Caroline has been a foster carer for 12 years, primarily looking after teenagers. She supports local foster carers, practices as an ordained Minister, volunteers with the police as a chaplain and is a qualified specialist counsellor.  

Caroline saw becoming a trustee of The Fostering Network as a chance to present the views of foster carers to ensure they are seen as professionals.  

Matthew Page

Matthew grew up in foster care from the age of three and became a foster carer himself. He wants to use his own story to amplify the voices of children and be part of genuine change. 

His experience of the care system has helped shape his passion to give back to society. Matthew identifies as mixed heritage and part of the LGBTQ+ community and says he wants to inspire others in care to embrace who they are. 

Kate Brash

Kate is a HR director, who has been fostering with her husband for over a decade on a short-term, long-term, emergency, rehabilitative and respite basis.  

She is passionate about outcomes for children and strives to improves conditions for children, young people and foster carers. This includes addressing retention and recruitment issues and giving foster carers a louder voice. 

Paul Seath

Paul and his wife are foster carers the first child they looked after is still with them today. Family life is busy, combined with his role as partner at a law firm which represents charities.  

Paul wanted to use his personal and professional experience to continue building on the work The Fostering Network does. He wants to see support for foster carers grow and greater recognition of social worker teams.  

Lyssa Elster

Lyssa and her partner are long-term foster carers, which she believes is a framework that works in the best interests of a child. 

She is chief executive of a leisure business, has sat on adoption panels and was formerly a trustee of Adoption UK. One of Lyssa’s goals is to help care experienced young people receive better support as they go into adulthood.