WillisPalmer launches Remote Assessment Service

WillisPalmer have launched a Remote Assessment Service to deliver social work assessments safely during COVID pandemic.

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Meet the Team

Find out more about our team below.

Mark Willis

Chief Executive

Mark Willis has been in social work for over thirty years. He began work in 1984 as a residential and day care worker with people with learning disabilities. In 1987 he moved into child care work as an assistant social worker before qualifying with the Diploma in Social Work seven years later. Further to this he worked as a social worker, senior practitioner and team manager within local authority social services departments. He also spent a year co-ordinating child protection training for a large social care department, developing two academically-accredited training programmes on child protection risk assessment.  In 2000 Mark became a self-employed Children’s Guardian representing children’s interests in over 100 cases in Kent and Essex.

Mark established WillisPalmer in 2004 with former business partner Andre Palmer. He has grown the company over that time whilst never losing sight of the core social work values which to this day are at the heart of the business.  His commitment to these values means WillisPalmer retains its status as an ethical and responsible company.

Mark is also co-Director of both Think Therapy 1st which provides occupational therapy rehabilitation services to insurers, legal markets, charities and the public alike and WPCM Services. WPCM Services provides holistic support to survivors of childhood abuse. The three organisations are part of the ‘WillisPalmer Group’.

Sarah Stowe

Managing Director

Sarah was the first team member WillisPalmer recruited back in 2005 and has recently taken on the role of Managing Director. Having previously worked for large corporate companies in a variety of positions she wanted to work for a business that truly cared about people, putting them at the heart of every decision.

Sarah has overall responsibility for running the business on a day to day basis and has developed excellent relationships with customers and contractors over the past fourteen years. Her commitment, enthusiasm and motivation ensure WillisPalmer maintains its first-class reputation, whilst always striving to be the best provider of services to children and families.

Phil King

Executive Consultant

Phil has been in social work for nearly 40 years, focussing on working with children and families, although he has undertaken specialist training in mental health and learning disability. He began his social work career in residential work, qualified in 1980 and practised as a social worker, before then moving into various management roles.

Later, his career choice was to return to direct practice by working as an independent social worker, initially as a Children’s Guardian. Within this role, he acted in an advisory capacity to national committees and as a country-wide trainer. He was an adviser to the Law Society on the development of the Children Panel for solicitors and was joint-partner of an agency offering training to solicitors. In 1998, he co-founded independent social work agency, ISWA, which went on to grow into one of the largest and most successful agencies in the UK.

This agency offered specialised risk assessments, fostering assessments, family group conferences, training and consultancy. Alongside his role as Director of ISWA, Phil acted as an expert witness in care proceedings and subsequently utilised his skills to become one of very few experts in the UK to offer opinion in cases of possible negligence and failure of duty of care.

In 2017, ISWA merged with WillisPalmer and Phil has remained as an Executive Consultant, where he has led on developing and expanding the Child Abuse Litigation Service which now provides a team of experts to offer opinion in cases of potential failure of duty of care. Over the years, Phil has become respected in his field, he has been involved in various research projects, and has a number of publications to his name. He remains committed to ensuring the interests of children are at the core of everything he does.

Steve Hoyle

Senior Business Consultant

Steve Hoyle has previously worked for a large PLC managing large contracts and submitting tenders within the NHS.

Steve has been with WillisPalmer for ten years and is extremely knowledgeable and often works in a mentoring capacity with newer members of the team given his patient and calm manner. Steve deputises for Sarah when she is not available. Steve also deals with contracts from local authorities which include adoption and fostering assessments, IRO work, parenting, kinship, SGO and connected person’s assessments.

He also plays a key role in our multi-disciplinary family assessments managing and co-ordinating this innovative service to assess families on the edge of care or as an alternative to costly residential placements.  His keen attention to detail and focus on quality mean he is an invaluable member of the team.

Clare Jerrom

Head of PR and Marketing

Clare Jerrom is WillisPalmer's Head of PR and Marketing and has been a social care journalist for the past 20 years.

Clare began her career at Community Care as a junior reporter specialising in and campaigning on youth justice and better treatment for vulnerable children in prison. As a junior reporter, she was awarded a national industry New Online Journalist of the Year award.

Clare rose to become Community Care's website editor where she was responsible for developing online content and managing the transition taking the content from the magazine to web only.

Following her 10 years at Community Care, Clare worked for the children and young people's mental health charity YoungMinds as their website editor and launched a website for young people about mental health medication and side effects. She also worked for social work organisation BASW writing for its publication Professional Social Work and her area of speciality was Independent Social Workers.

Clare has also had articles published in The Guardian on children's services issues.

More recently, Clare worked as a freelance journalist both for WillisPalmer where she produced website content and the monthly newsletter Children First, and as the editor of Locum Today, a website for locum social work, mental health and occupational health professionals.

Clare is responsible for online content, communications and marketing at WillisPalmer. If you have a story for Children First contact Clare at: clare@willispalmer.com.

Lucy Hopkins

Consultant Social Worker (Employed)

Lucy has 11 years post-qualifying experience as a social worker and started out in a family support and protection team at Essex County Council before becoming a senior practitioner within the department. Lucy then spent seven years as a family court adviser and children’s guardian at CAFCASS before joining WillisPalmer in September 2020.

Lucy has a BA (Hons.) in Film Studies and Literature from the University of Essex, MA in Social Work from Anglia Ruskin University, and MA in Advanced Social Work from the University of East Anglia. She is a qualified Practice Educator and Practice Assessor for students and newly qualified social workers.

During her time in family support and protection, Lucy held a caseload of children subject to child in need and child protection plans. She undertook initial assessments, core assessments, child protection conference reports, Section 37 reports and prepared statements and care plans for court proceedings.

As a family court adviser and children’s guardian, Lucy has prepared over 350 reports and has regularly provided evidence to the courts.

As a Consultant Social Worker at WillisPalmer, Lucy will be responsible for the recruitment of professionals, mentoring, training and service development.

Dave Wareham

Consultant Social Worker (Employed)

After qualifying as a social worker, Dave spent 12 years working at Essex County Council where he went from a social worker in children and family assessment, and children in care teams to a role as a senior practitioner at the family centre, before then becoming a child-in-need reviewing officer. Dave’s final two and a half years at Essex prior to joining WillisPalmer were spent as a team manager of the children in care service.

During his time as a social worker and senior practitioner, Dave gained extensive experience undertaking assessments and implementing care plans for children at risk of harm within their families, and for care proceedings. While working as a senior practitioner at the family centre, Dave completed specialist training in understanding the risks posed by sexual offenders and perpetrators of domestic abuse. He also designed and delivered a groupwork programme for perpetrators of domestic abuse.

As a child-in-need reviewing officer, Dave worked on building effective relationships with frontline social workers, provided consultation for them on individual cases and common themes of risk and need.

In addition to his team manager responsibilities at Essex, Dave helped shape and develop practice including redesign of the children-in-care care plan and involvement in the development of an emotional wellbeing project for social work staff. Dave is a Fellow of the Firstline social work leadership programme and a NAAS accredited child and family practice supervisor.

Joining WillisPalmer in September 2020, Dave’s role as Consultant Social Worker means he has responsibilities for direct practice, service development and special projects.

Chloe Bach

Business Administrator

Chloe worked within the NHS before joining WillisPalmer, where she developed excellent customer service and administration skills. Before this, she worked for a firm of solicitors giving her vital experience of legal processes and working to tight deadlines.

When Chloe joined WillisPalmer in 2009, she provided administrative support to all members of the team as well as taking responsibility for managing cases from beginning to end.

As Business Administrator, Chloe provides administrative support and management information to the Chief Executive and Managing Director. Chloe is also responsible for managing the office facilities, as well as the end to end recruitment process for all WillisPalmer contractors.

Chloe’s highly organised, methodical approach and professionalism guarantee WillisPalmer maintains it’s very high standards.

Eavan Taylor-Willis

Business Administrator

Eavan initially joined WillisPalmer in a part-time capacity but quickly realised she loved working for a company where the focus is on children and their families. Eavan has now taken on the role of full- time business administrator where her primary focus is assisting Lucy with the recruitment of professionals. As Eavan really loves people and has a very warm and fun personality she really enjoys the recruitment part of the business. She is currently studying for her Level 2 certificate in recruitment and resourcing.

Tracy Lias

Senior Case Manager

Tracy has been with the WillisPalmer family since June 2016 and strongly believes in the WillisPalmer values, making sure they are embedded into everything she does.

As the Senior Case Manager, Tracy takes responsibility to oversee the Case Management Team and the variety of different services that the team provide administration for which includes Social Work and Psychology assessments, Family Support and Child Abuse Litigation services.

The team assist with all administrative tasks for the discrete pieces of work being undertaken by our consultants from initial instruction through to completion of work and invoicing.

It is imperative that the Case Management team are highly organised to assist in all matters as they are the first point of contact for any queries, and will be the liaison between the consultant and the customer. Tracy manages the team on a daily basis to ensure that sure that work is completed to a high standard and reports are filed in a timely manner.

Tracy has a wealth of skills and experience, having previously worked for a large corporate banking operation and in adult social care services, and she is passionate about Customer Service and processes.

Fay Roffe

Case Manager

Fay joins us with a strong background in administration, having worked for a broad range of companies, including a large corporate bank, a management consultancy and an estate agent. More recently Fay ran her own childminding business for six years which was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, and then she worked within health and social care looking after adults with autism and learning disabilities. Both of these roles convinced Fay that whatever career path she chose next it had to be something where she could help make a difference.

Fay is one of the case managers here at WillisPalmer, taking responsibility for managing a case from beginning to end. This is a challenging administrative role which requires constant liaison with both customers and consultants, the ability to work to strict deadlines and ultimately results in the filing of high-quality reports. Fay understands the importance of providing an excellent service, she is highly organised and works well under pressure.

Holly Green

Case Manager

Holly is the newest member of the WillisPalmer team having joined in January 2019 as maternity cover for her colleague Fay Roffe. It quickly became apparent that Holly was an asset to WillisPalmer and in April 2019 she was  recruited as a permanent member of staff.

Family is everything to Holly.  She enjoys her role as a Case Manager where she is able to use her highly effective administrative and organisational skills to provide valuable support to organisations working with children and their families. Having had her family at a young age Holly is able to identify and empathise with some of the pressures many families face on a daily basis and hopes that in her role she is able to make a difference.

Lesley Reiff

Consultant Social Worker

Lesley is a qualified social worker with over 30 years experience of working with children, young people and families. Lesley has over 17 years experience as an independent social worker and as a Children’s Guardian.

Prior to this Lesley worked in a local authority social services department as a Paediatric Liaison Child Protection Social Worker in a hospital setting, Senior Practitioner, and Team Manager in both Child Protection teams and Child and Family teams. Lesley also worked in an NSPCC Family Assessment and Treatment unit where Local Authorities referred high-risk families to undertake comprehensive and intensive assessments. The children had usually suffered significant injuries and/or sexual assaults. Lesley has chaired Child Protection Case Conferences and has recently worked as an Independent Reviewing Officer.

Lesley has worked closely with WillisPalmer since 2004 and works alongside Managing Director, Sarah Stowe to establish and maintain contracts, allocate tasks to team members and monitor the activity within the team relating to professional standards.

Terence Simmons

Consultant Social Worker

Terence, who quality assures work for WillisPalmer, believes that social work practice is at its best when it is an effective mixture of sound self-awareness, applied intuition and rigorously utilised theoretical frameworks.  Terence also firmly believes that social workers need the ability to express themselves well and clearly and be able to construct arguments that are logical, founded in observational skill, use appropriate evidence and demonstrate that competing viewpoints have been balanced adequately.

As a practitioner, Terence has cast a wide theoretical net but has concentrated largely on the practice of parenting and uses attachment theory as the basis for understanding parenting behaviour and the simplicity of parenting approaches such as the Parent/Child Game for changing parenting behaviour.  However, it is not unusual for him to also rely on his years as a Relate counsellor, mentor, counselling supervisor (for addictions counsellors) as well as his training in systemic family therapy, psychodrama, gestalt psychotherapy and the insights afforded by cognitive psychology.

At times of the greatest stress, he is usually to be found in his shed or playing the drums.

Marion Farmer

Consultant Social Worker

Marion Farmer is a qualified social work practitioner with over 35 years experience in the field of child care. She has undertaken consultancy work for a local authority and health authority, helping to shape the direction of future service provision for looked after children and children with special needs.

Marion became a self-employed Children`s Guardian in London, representing the interests of children in care, adoption and other specified proceedings, providing more than 150 reports over a period of 16 years.  Alongside this, she undertook a range of independent social work assignments, including assessments of parents, potential kinship carers and prospective foster carers.  Since 2007, she has undertaken work through WillisPalmer. In 2013, Marion developed the role of Care Proceedings Manager for a London local authority, establishing procedures and protocols for pre-proceedings and court work, providing training and quality assuring evidence.  She subsequently developed and managed the Court Team.  Since 2014, she has been involved in mentoring social workers within a safeguarding service, providing training on risk assessments, and developing a parenting assessment framework for a South London local authority. She joined the team of Quality Assurance Consultants at WillisPalmer in 2014.

Sue Brookman

Consultant Social Worker

Sue is a qualified social worker with over thirty-five years’ experience of working in the field of child-care and child protection. Sue has worked as a self-employed Children’s Guardian in London for over twenty years. She has undertaken work in private law and adoption as well as public law matters.

Sue has worked as an Independent Social Worker since 2001 carrying out parenting assessments, including PAMS, kinship, Special Guardianship and sibling assessments. She joined WillisPalmer as an independent social worker in 2006.

Prior to working independently, Sue worked with various London local authorities as a social worker, senior practitioner, team manager and child protection conference chair. More recently she has worked as an independent reviewing officer and has provided mentoring to newly qualified social workers in a local authority safeguarding team.

Sue joined the team of Quality Assurance Consultants at WillisPalmer in 2017.

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

More court days for family cases this year despite restrictions


There have been more court sitting days taking place on family cases this year than in any previous year, despite the lockdown, the president of the family courts division has said.

In his ‘View from the Chambers,’ Andrew McFarlane said this level of activity is necessary as it is not possible to conduct as many cases [...]

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Half of Youth Offending Services require improvement


Improvements are required in more than half of the Youth Offending Services inspected this year, according to the HM Inspectorate of Probation.

Of the 16 Youth Offending Services inspected, eight required improvement while one, Cardiff, was rated inadequate.

Chief Inspector Justin Russell said: “It is disappointing that the overall quality of the youth offending services we have [...]

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Highest number of children’s homes registered could be in response to COVID


The highest number of children’s homes were registered by Ofsted between April and August, potentially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ofsted registered 176 new children’s homes between 1 April and 31 August, the highest number recorded in that period. This follows a continued increase in registrations year on year since at least 2015 and a [...]

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