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The Team

At Cheka Safeguarding the team pride themselves on working in close partnership with all services that commission us to carry out work. We take a national approach to our work taking into account the new legislation Social Services and Well Being Act 2014 and local circumstances/ arrangements.

Our team draws upon a network of professional associates, each of whom has their own area of expertise within the field of Children’s Services. These individuals have successful and proven track records in the social care sector, including many with extensive managerial experience.

Whilst it is the responsibility of the individual practitioners we commission to meet their minimum Professional Development standards as set out by the Care Council for Wales, Cheka Safeguarding Services Ltd also provides learning opportunities and staff development sessions in which commissioned staff may participate.

Please meet the Cheka Safeguarding Team;

Click or tap to expand for more details about each team member

Specialist Areas

  • Safeguarding and Looked after Children
  • Quality Assurance
  • Facilitation of Training
  • Child Practice Reviews

Emma is passionately committed to representing the voice of the child and making a positive impact on the lives of children, young people and their families. She believes in the future of all children, strongly driving forward the agenda that an open door policy to a quality and safe life is a universal right. Emma believes that a child’s early years are the most influential in shaping their future and in this regard advocates that all parents are deserving of the right to the help and support required during those crucial years.

Emma has worked in Children’s Services for 15 years after successfully qualifying as a social worker and gaining a Master’s degree at Swansea University. She has worked at an Operational and Strategic level in Local Authority’s within South Wales. In 2013, Emma after much thought left Local Authority work to embark on a new journey where she was able to return to her love of frontline social work with children, young people and their families. She is the Company Director of Cheka Safeguarding Services Ltd now offering a range of consultancy services to Local Authority’s, Voluntary Organisations and Children’s Safeguarding Boards.

Specialist Areas :

  • Recruitment
  • Quality assurance.
  • Consultations with Cheka associates
  • Manager of specified contracts.

Over the last three years Zaineb has focused on raising the profile of Cheka Safeguarding Services Ltd with the aim of providing quality and experienced Social worker to undertake a verity of assessments for numerous Local Authorities in the South Wales area. This is In addition to undertaking multiple Independent assessment, Stage two complaints, and her main role as an Independent Child Protection Conference Chair. Zaineb qualified as a Social Worker 18 years ago working in Child Protection both in London and Wales. The roles have been varied working both as an Independent social worker, team manager and Child Protection coordinator.

Specialist Areas :

  • Safeguarding, Looked After Children, Permanency Planning
  • Project Management
  • Service Improvement
  • Performance Management
  • Learning and Development
  • Coaching and Mentoring
  • Resource Management, including the Management of Human Resources

Alison’s career in Social Care started in 1990, and has specialised in working with Children, Young People and their Families since 1996. She qualified as a Social Worker at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff. Alison has worked in both Operational and Strategic management posts in Local Authorities in the South Wales area. Alison left employment within Local Government in 2012, to pursue the new and varied challenges afforded by practice in the Independent Sector.

Alison is committed to the over-arching principle that our communities and society are stronger when children, young people and their families are enabled to attain their full potential.

It is a guiding principle of Alison’s practice that all children and young people have the right to family life, and to live a safe and nurturing environment. Alison believes strongly that the well-being of children and young people is best achieved through prevention, access to education and promoting the young person’s right to be heard. Alison is committed to the principle that any professional intervention should be child-focussed, and provided in a timely manner.

Alison’s practice with children, young people and families is based on the values of participation, innovation, collaboration and mutual respect for each child and adult.

Specialist Areas of Work

  • Assessment
  • Direct work with children and their families
  • PAMS

Lauren obtained her BA honours degree in Social Work from University of Wales, Newport, in 2010. She has worked in various children’s services teams in South Wales since this time as both a Social Worker and Senior Practitioner with experience in the fields of Child and Family Support, Child Protection, Looked After Children, Care Proceedings and Adoption. Prior to qualification Lauren worked in various adult services teams and has some experience of work with adults with learning difficulties, physical disabilities and older people including experience of older adult mental health.

Lauren has worked as an Independent Social Worker since November 2015. During this time she has completed various pieces of work including; parenting assessments, connected person’s assessments, lifestory work and intensive parenting support for families in care proceedings. She works part time as an Independent Reviewing Officer chairing Looked After Children’s Reviews and Child Protection Case Conferences.

Lauren has a keen interest in children and family’s human rights, an interest sparked from completing an undergraduate degree at Cardiff Law School in 2006. She supports various human rights focused charities. She is a member of the British Association of Social Workers and is registered with the Care Council for Wales.

Lauren is trained in the Parenting Role Interview assessment tool accredited by Middlesex University and is PAMs Trained.

Specialist Areas

  • Statutory Child Protection Assessment
  • Service Improvement
  • PAMS

Susan Hawkins has worked within the field of Children and Families for over twenty years. She started her career as a residential worker with children with Complex Needs in the USA during 1997 then returning to the UK at the end of 1998 to continue her residential work but with Children Looked After. Susan moved onto become a qualified Social Worker during 2001. The majority of Susan's work experienced as a qualified Social Worker has been in the Statutory child care setting as a Social Worker, Advanced Social Work Practitioner, and Team Manager. Susan enjoys new experiences and challenges, nurturing and supporting students and social workers in order to continue to develop good social work practice. Susan has sought out these opportunities for her own development and interest. Additional roles have included: being a free lance lecturer to the University of Chester. Susan was also a personal tutor to social worker students during the Initial Pilot of the Step Up to Social Work programme. Susan has periodically completed some Independent Social Work Assessments in England and Wales since 2010 that has included: Form F, Parenting and also Pam's Parenting Assessments . Susan has joined the associate team at Cheka on a full time basis since September 2017 and her primary role at this time is completing the Independent Social Work Assessments Parenting Assessment; PAMs Parenting Assessment, Risk Assessment; Sibling Attachment Assessment and also Assessment of Children and sibling groups who have complex Needs.

Specialist areas of work:

  • Looked After Children
  • Children/Young people Leaving Care Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

Rachel qualified from Staffordshire University in July 2000. Rachel has worked as a social worker in After Care/Leaving Care services and was the Lead Manager in setting up a Through Care Team In Monmouthshire, which was unique in Wales. The Purpose was to ensure that Children who were looked after had consistency of workers and decision making through their Looked After Experience through to Leaving Care.

Rachel has also worked as a senior social worker in an Adult Mental Health Secure Hospital, and has chaired the Wales Leaving Care Forum, representing all 22 authorities. She has also been involved in policy consultation with Welsh Government and ADSS in this role. She is passionate about children and young people in Care having the same opportunities and dreams that the majority of children have. Rachel is committed to ensuring that children and young people’s views are heard, even when systems around them continue to oppress them.

Rachel’s passion is to challenge systems that do not meet the needs and wishes of children and young people, and ensure that Children and young people are at the centre of all the planning around them. Rachel has experience of chairing Complex Care planning and Risk Management meetings. Rachel is also training as a Practice Assessor for future social work students.

Rachel has also investigated numerous stage 1 complaints.

Rachel’s particular interests are chairing LAC/Pathway Plan reviews, Connected Persons Assessments, Fostering Assessments and children/young people with Mental Health needs.

Specialist Areas of Work –

  • Safeguarding and Children Looked After
  • Leaving care: Adolescent social work
  • Quality assurance: Reviewing plans and chairing complex meetings

Annette is a social worker who places great importance on the child/young person being at the centre of practice and in ensuring that this voice is heard throughout assessment, planning and review. Annette’s vision is for social work to focus on creating positive outcomes for children and young people whom may have had many family challenges and experienced adversity. This is underpinned by the firm belief that all children, with the right mechanisms in place, can have a bright future.

Annette qualified with a Master’s Degree at Cardiff University in 2001 and has since practised in Local Authority Children’s Services field work; safeguarding and looked after children. Annette has a special interest in Leaving Care having worked as a senior practitioner and team deputy manager for 10 years. Maintaining her continuous learning and development, Annette keeps up to date with new legislation and research also supervising student social workers as their Practice Assessor.

Annette continues to be impassioned in social work and enjoys employing her skills in independent pieces of practice undertaking connected persons and fostering assessments, life story work, parenting assessment, direct work, reviewing care plans and chairing complex meetings.

Specialist Areas of Work

  • Looked after Children
  • Independent Reviews

Karen’s social work career has spanned three decades- working in children and adult services. Karen has managed social work teams in the fields of child protection and children and adults with disabilities, in the local authority and voluntary sector and acted as reviewing service manager, responsible for agreeing quality assurance protocols and supervising independent reviewing officers.

Karen has always been keen to evaluate her practice and keep abreast of changes, and has completed the practice teaching and post qualifying awards in social work. Applying the links between theory and practice, Karen has also lectured on child protection, equality, social policy and legal issues in further education and higher education establishments and undertaken research with the Welsh Government, evaluating a training programme for foster carers.

For the past 15 years, Karen has worked independently across a number of South Wales local authorities, particularly as an independent reviewing officer of looked after children and annual foster carer reviews, and independent chairperson of initial and review child protection conferences. Karen is also accredited to deliver the ‘Skills to Foster’ course. Karen has also undertaken project management, managing the ‘When I am Ready’ project in Cardiff, and as Core Group Coordinator reviewing child protection registration and plans for children placed on the register for over a year.

Karen’s particular interests are chairing looked after children reviews, foster carer reviews and conferences, developing quality assurance frameworks, forging links with private foster care agencies, in the role of reviewing officer, trainer or assessor and project management.

Specialist Areas of Work

  • Safeguarding
  • Family Support
  • Early Intervention and Prevention

Hellen is focused and driven by the desire to ensure the “voice of the child” is pivotal to all of her work. Hellen believes in the potential and worth of all children, and has chosen a career in social care in order to make a positive contribution to the lives of children and families. Hellen recognises the importance of a holistic approach when working with children and families, and the importance of Early Intervention and Prevention strategies to support individuals to achieve and maintain change. Hellen prides herself on practice that is evidence based, non-judgemental and anti- discriminatory, and offers a flexible and responsive style to all of her work. Hellen values the contributions and experiences of those she engages with and ensures she practices in a way that is person-centred and reflective, where the welfare and best interests of the Child, is the overarching aim- a constant feature throughout her practice and everyday life.

Hellen has worked within the Social care sector for 13 years. Beginning her career within a Homelessness Support Team then qualifying as a social worker in 2005.Hellen worked as a Senior Social Worker within a Local Authority Child Care Team, before progressing to her current management role within the Third Sector. Her role is varied and involves overseeing the provision of services within the Family Support and Disability Field. Hellen commenced her role as an Independent Social Worker alongside this role, and has valued the varying opportunities for practice and reflection these combined roles offer.

Specialist Areas of Work

  • Children Services including Looked after Children
  • Assessment skills/Care and Support Plans/ Pathway Plans
  • Chairing meetings
  • Strengths based intervention

Rachel is passionate about early intervention with children and families. Rachel regards parents as the experts in their family unit and is able to use their internal motivation to implement and sustain long term change. Rachel uses a holistic approach in all her assessments to incorporate both formal and informal support networks. Rachel’s priority is to keep a child within their family unit providing that unit can offer the child everything they need to become a successful adult.


Rachel qualified in 2013. Since qualifying Rachel has spent 3 years working in a front line statutory child care team. The experience she gained in this environment ranged from assessments of Child Protection/Child in Need cases to LAC case management. Rachel also has experience of writing Court reports for both private and Local Authority cases and has designed, co-ordinated and delivered two successful rehabilitation plans. Recently Rachel has moved to the 16 plus Local Authority team where she remains in

post. Part of this role is to Project Manage a mentoring programme for care leavers. Rachel is presently studying for the Experienced Practitioner Programme.

Specialist Areas of Work:

  • Assessment
  • Care Proceedings
  • PAMS
  • Direct work with Children and Families

Sue has been qualified as a social worker for 11 years, having completed the Diploma of Social Work in 2005 and Masters in Social Work in 2006 through Cardiff University. Since qualifying, Sue has worked with children who are considered to be in need, at risk or looked after and their families. Sue is committed to the role of social work in providing better outcomes for children and supporting families to work on their strengths, whilst recognising when risks need to be addressed.

In September 2014 Sue became self-employed in order to work flexibly to meet the competing demands of raising children, whilst still very much enjoying the role of social work.

Having experienced different aspects of social work with children and families, Sue has developed a particular interest in undertaking assessments. Working as an associate of Cheka Safeguarding Services Ltd has allowed Sue the opportunity of having the time and space to reflect on cases and provided the focus required to ensure a balanced decision is made often within complex circumstances.

Specialist Areas of Work:

  • Forensic Mental Health
  • Deprivation of Liberty safeguards & Mental Capacity
  • Risk assessment & risk management
  • Bespoke training packages
  • Coaching & mentoring
  • Project development and implementation
  • Cultural competence

Marcelle’s career has spanned over 20 years. Qualifying from Cardiff University as a Probation Officer- she has predominantly worked in forensic services for both adult and juvenile judicial systems in both the UK and overseas. She has experience at management and Operational levels in her field and has undertaken significant roles in researching, developing and implementing appropriate services.

Marcelle has specific interest, and is skilled in, debriefing of psychological trauma and mental health. She is an Approved Mental Health Practitioner (AMHP), Best Interest assessor (BIA) and holds a pg CertED.

Marcelle is a lecturer in Cardiff Metropolitan University, teaching on the Bsc Social Work, CPEL and APL she continues to vigorously promote culturally specific models of assessment, for older people, people with intellectual disability or mental ill health and dual diagnosis. Her views and expertise in the field are considered and she has recently returned from Australia where she gave 2 master classes and the keynote speech in respect of cultural competence and vulnerability at Brisbane’s Centre of Excellence for Clinical Innovation and Behaviour Support.

Jackie Garland has a professional background in working as a teacher, youth worker and as an educational psychologist. Additionally, she has a formal qualification from the Tavistock Institute, in executive coaching skills at a practitioner level. Jackie is passionate about working collaboratively with partners to improve children’s life chances by implementing systems that promote: robust safeguarding arrangements, well being, educational achievement and attainment. She has a wealth of experience in developing teams, delivering training and facilitating learning events.

After teaching in both the North of England and in the USA , Jackie moved to Wales to undertake her Masters Degree in Educational Psychology. She worked in a range of operational and management posts as an Educational Psychologist in a number of Local Authorities. Jackie was a Principal Educational Psychologist for seven years before taking up a more strategic role as a Service Manager with responsibility for Social Inclusion. This role required significant multi-agency work, particularly with regard to parents/carers, schools, Children’s Services and Health. Management responsibilities have included the development of policy and service delivery relating to: Looked After Children: safeguarding, educational psychology, speech and language, school based counselling, behaviour, exclusions from school, school attendance, the youth service and healthy schools.

Jackie was the Senior Strategic Lead for Safeguarding in Education within a Local Authority for ten years. She also chaired a regional Safeguarding Education Group on behalf of an education consortium. Jackie has had a pivotal role with regard to the management of disciplinary safeguarding investigations within a Local Authority. She has a great deal of experience of working as a member of both a former Local Safeguarding Children Board and a Regional Safeguarding Children Board. This has included chairing a Case Practice Development and Review subgroup with a focus on the quality assurance of action plans relating to Serious Case Reviews and Case Practice Reviews.

Significant professional development particularly in the area of child development, psychology, behaviour and safeguarding has underpinned Jackie’s practice at a strategic, management and operational level.


Specialist areas

  • Assessments across all different types of cases, from parenting assessment to Form F, kinship carer viability and full assessments
  • Direct work with children and families
  • Fostering recruitment, support
  • Fostering training delivery

Raluca has been a qualified Social Worker since 2004 when she graduated from the West University, Timisoara, Romania. Prior to qualifying as a social worker, Raluca worked as a teacher in Romania for six years.

Since qualifying, Raluca worked as a social worker in Romania for two years for different non government organisations, supporting children and families in disadvantaged communities, including Roma communities. Raluca also worked and enjoyed supporting young mothers and their babies, in a residential assessment setting.

In 2006, Raluca made the decision to leave Romania and started a social work career in the UK. For the first five years, Raluca worked for different London local authorities, dealing with a wide range of child protection cases, cases in Care Proceedings and Looked after Children. In 2011 Raluca moved to South Wales and since then, she has been working for a Local Authority, as a child protection and then fostering social worker.

Through the experience accumulated over the years, Raluca developed a wide range of skills, particularly in the field of fostering, from recruitment, retention and support of foster carers to foster carer and kinship carer training and assessment. Raluca’s recent experience as a Senior Practitioner in a Fostering Team has enhanced her training delivery and assessment skills, particularly in the complex area of kinship care. She is a great believer that Family Group Conferences are a way forward when dealing with complex family dynamics and she has organised and chaired them in order to achieve best outcomes for children in Care Proceedings. Although working in a Fostering team for the last 5 years, Raluca has maintained close contact with the front line Child Protection and Looked After Children cases due to the nature of her role within the team, particularly in terms of contributing to the placement matching of the children in the care system.

Raluca has delivered pre approval foster carer training and has taken the lead in organising foster carer support groups, maintaining a positive relationship with the approved or prospective foster carers or kinship carers.

Raluca has also taken great interest in Dan Hughes’ PACE parenting model and she has worked closely with clinical psychologists in order to ensure that this model is embedded within the foster carer and social worker’s practice across the board within the local authority.

Bio coming soon

Bio coming soon

Bio coming soon

Specialist areas:

  • Safeguarding
  • Project management
  • Quality Assurance
  • Training
  • Coaching, mentoring and practice assessing
  • Early intervention services including Team Around the Family
  • Family support
  • Chairing complex multi agency meetings
  • Direct work with children, young people and their families

Zarah is committed and passionate about improving services and thus improving outcomes for children, young people and their families. Zarah’s practice has always been underpinned by the belief that the child’s voice is central to any decision making about their lives and that services need to be responsive to the needs of children and their families at the earliest stage; currently working in an early identification and intervention service and committed to the principles that services need to be family focused and provide bespoke interventions that are strengths based in their approach.

Zarah has been a qualified social worker for over 18 years –4 years in Probation and Youth Offending Service and the past 14 and a half years in Children’s Services in Local Authority undertaking a variety of roles including; intake and assessment as a senior practitioner and team manager; safeguarding children board manager; and for the past 3 years managing a family support team.

Zarah is an experienced practice assessor and safeguarding trainer who has developed training packages and delivered them across the SE Wales region for a number of years. Zarah has been a major contributor to service design and delivery inclujding the development of a regional safeguarding board, is an experienced auditor/reviewer and has contributed to serious case reviews and child practice reviews.

Specialist areas:

  • Providing therapeutic support for children, young people and their families
  • Completing therapeutic life story work using creative and innovative techniques
  • Working directly with children and young people who have experienced trauma and have attachment difficulties

Helen qualified as a Play Therapist after completing the MSc in Play Therapy in 2016 and is a full member of the British Association of Play Therapists that governs her practice. Helen has worked on a freelance basis since qualifying and currently works with agencies including the Post Adoption support teams, VVC and Western Bay, local Authorities including Rhondda Cynon Taf, Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea as well as charities Barnardos and 2 Wish Upon a Star.

Helen has a particular interest in working with children and young people who have experienced trauma and have attachment difficulties. Helen feels passionately that children and young people who have been removed from their parents care should have access to therapeutic support in order to process their trauma and enable them to go on to build healthy attachments in the future. Helen works in a non-judgemental, empathetic manner with the needs of the child being paramount.

Previous to becoming a Play Therapist Helen worked in Rhondda Cynon Taf children’s services for 12 years, she has also worked for Newport County council and was a youth support worker In Cardiff. As well as being a qualified Play Therapist Helen has also completed Level One training in Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy which includes the PACE model. Helen is able to complete Therapeutic life story work.

Specialist areas:

  • Specialist Area of work:
  • Statutory child protection assessments and care planning
  • Connected Person Assessments / Form F
  • Parenting Assessments
  • Direct work with children and young people
Fiona is a committed and dedicated social worker to hearing the child’s voice and empowering adults around them to make the necessary changes to safeguard that child and allow them to thrive to their full potential. Since qualifying from Liverpool John Moores University, the majority of Fiona’s carer has been in statutory frontline teams across the North West England. This including duty teams; care planning; court work; case holding and mentoring of student social workers. However Fiona has been working independently for Cheka since 2017 undertaking CPA assessments with complex families across the north of the UK. Fiona is dedicated to delivering high quality, thorough assessments for local authorities to use as part of their care planning procedures for children and young people.

Specialist areas:

  • Children Services including Looked After Children and Child Protection
  • Previous experience as a Local Authority Foster Carer
  • Assessment Skills - Care and Support Plans, S47 Investigations, Viability Assessments, Connected Persons Assessments, Adoption Assessments, Parenting Assessments.
  • Chairing meetings
  • Strengths based intervention
  • Student / Practice Learning support
  • Court Work
  • Rehabilitation Plans

Lisa is experienced in the public, private and voluntary sectors, primarily working with children and families. Lisa is a Senior Practitioner who is passionate about Social Work and has completed CPEL Post-Qualifying programmes to Experienced Practitioner Level, developing a pre-birth assessment toolkit and a member of the CPEL Executive Committee. Lisa has spent five years as a front-line Child Protection Social Worker and has also been a foster carer so has a first-hand experience of attachment and behavioural difficulties born from early childhood experiences.

Lisa uses a strengths based approach to working with families and makes holistic, child focussed assessments. She is experienced in the court arena in criminal, family and private law having a police background prior to qualifying. Lisa is able to make clear, realistic recommendations in her assessments and draw on formal and informal support networks to make robust plans in the child’s best interest.

Specialist areas:

  • Safeguarding
  • Early Intervention and Prevention
  • Investigations
  • Chairing Meetings

Susan has over 30 years police experience and 14 years working within the Public Protection Unit, managing a team of Detectives investigating offences against Children and Vulnerable Adults. Susan is passionate about safeguarding the most vulnerable in society, by early recognition and intervention to ensure long term change.


Susan began work for the police in 1986, and has experience as a uniform response officer, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Public Protection Unit (PPU) Susan was promoted to Sergeant in 2004, and Inspector in 2007, finishing her career within the police in 2018 as a Detective Inspector within the Public Protection Unit. She has chaired numerous multi agency meetings, such as Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC), Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) and Procedural Response to Unexpected Death in Childhood (PRUDIC) . Most recently Susan has been instrumental in the implementation of the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) in the Bridgend area.

Specialist areas:

  • Safeguarding, looked after children and permanency planning 
  • Parenting Assessments
  • SGO assessments
  • Quality assurance
  • Reflective systemic supervision

Indeep Sethi is a qualified social worker and obtained a Masters in Social Work from London South Bank University in June 2006. She has extensive experience of working with vulnerable Children and their Families, predominately in Child Protection and Looked After Children services, with a wealth of experience in assessing and managing risk. Indeep is an experienced manager; supervising, supporting and developing social workers. She has always had a passion for providing good quality supervision, understanding the need for a positive, trusting relationship between supervisor and social worker, and offering a safe and reflective space to explore and identify ways to keep children safe.

Indeep continues to practice in front line social work as a Court Proceedings coordinator which involves chairing legal planning meetings and quality assurance of social work court statements and court assessments. The role also allows Indeep to continue to support social workers to develop good practice in court and PLO cases.

Specialist areas:

  • Statutory Child Protection Assessment.
  • Care Proceedings.
  • Looked After Children.
  • Risk Assessment.
  • Practice Improvement.

Jo’s career as a Social Worker began over 8 years ago when she graduated from the University of Chester with a Degree in Social Work. Prior to this Jo has worked with young people as a Senior Youth Worker for the YMCA and as a NVQ Assessor. Jo has spent much of her Social Work career predominantly in the field of Child Protection and since qualifying Jo has worked for a number of different Local Authorities across the country as a Social Worker, Advanced Practitioner and Team Manager.

Jo has practiced as a case holding Social Worker and as a Manager in the fields of Child Protection, Looked After Children, Duty and Assessment aswell as within a Multiagency Safeguarding Hub. Jo Is currently studying an MSc in Family and Child Psychology at the University of Chester and has a particular interest in family breakdown and Parental Alienation.

Jo continues to gather experience alongside her academic progression via Cheka Safeguarding Services Ltd

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