Key Contributors

Contributing to the Village

Aida Van der Pant has a BSc in Health and Social Care), a diploma in Children and Young People’s Advocacy as well as a certificate in European Children's Human Rights. Her experience of being a looked after child/care leaver and working with children and young people in care and care leavers has given her a vast knowledge of the issues relating to the above as well as young people with mental health illnesses.


She has 20 years’ experience of working across: participation, children’s rights and advocacy services; mental health and disabled children services; services working with children and young people at risk of exploitation and their carers/parents.


In her current role as Participation and Engagement Officer operating across the South East Region she has led on a number of Barnardo’s and government funded projects. Aida’s passion for engaging Children and Young people in voice and influence activities has seen her forming and maintaining links with various NGOs and government bodies which have the ability to influence positive changes in services provided for children and young people.



Carrie Wilson-Harrop has just completed a Masters in Childhood Youth and Social policy at Loughborough university to expand her professional knowledge in research and policy development. Currently undertaking a Doctorate in Social Policy on the Financial barriers in transition for Care Leavers. She has over 10 years of direct work experience with young people in care and care leavers, plus over 20 years of lived experiences of the care system and beyond. She is an experienced member of Charity Board Of Directors with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organisation management industry. Skilled in Strategic Planning, Project Management, Training , Project development and Bid Writing, Research with Child and Youth Participation (co-production), Trauma Recovery and of course issues affecting those with Care Experiences . Strong business development professional with a degree International Relations focused in Politics, International Politics, International Theory from University of Leicester.



Colin Maginn has been working with children in public care since he was nineteen. His experience has included managing and working in two secure units, being a team leader in a regional assessment centre and the director of Ingleside Children’s Home in London, where with Dr Seán Cameron they developed 'Emotional Warmth Parenting' for people working with children in public care. Cameron and Maginn have recently published a book on their work, entitled "It's a privilege".



David Lee Jackson is a care experienced adult who was born in Withington, Manchester in 1964, into an impoverished black family. He was placed into the care of the local authority as a baby where he remained for the next sixteen and a half years, subsequently being placed into insecure accommodation to fend for himself shortly before he was seventeen. Having been denied as a child, David has educated himself and obtained an Honours Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in International Business alongside a host of other professional and personal development qualifications.


David has been an elected public official, served on a number of charity boards and forums, and is an active campaigner on social justice and equality issues. He has also worked in the criminal justice system. He is a well-travelled and widely respected Lead/Senior Planning Engineer within the Defence and Nuclear Energy sector. He has also been both a professional and personal mentor to a number of people and has an avid interest in ensuring that individuals get the help and resources they require in order to maximise their own potential and the life opportunities that come their way. He especially has a strong desire to see that care experienced people are not socially, educationally or professionally disadvantaged in society as a result of their upbringing.


David is often engaged on the public speaking circuit in relation to care experience matters, and in 2018 published the widely praised and much talked about book ‘Oi’ which can be found on amazon at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1912183730



Di Cook has been a foster carer for the last 32 years working with both local authorities and private fostering agencies. During this time, she has fostered over 60 children, mainly specialising in long term foster care, although also has a wide experience of short-term fostering and fostering to adoption.


A member of the National Association of Therapeutic Parents, Di is passionate about supporting children and young people to reach their full potential and to develop into resilient, confident, and successful young adults.


In addition, Di has worked in various management roles in Milton Keynes College Group since 1989 where she has been the Head of Work Placements and Distance Learning

for the past 5 years.



Ed Nixon started his career as a social worker. He worked in a LA for 26 years, eventually becoming the Service Manager for all children in, leaving and on the cusp of care before moving across to the independent sector. There he was CEO of a small company offering residential care which created a school and fostering service, all working under the guidance of their own therapists.


Following retirement, Ed acted as a social work consultant for four years and as the Deputy CEO of the Independent Children’s Association for 2 more. Since 2013 he has led the ‘Every Child Leaving Care Matters’ campaign as their chair. He sits as a member of an Advisory Board to Career Matters which creates real education, employment and training opportunities for care leavers. He is a Board Member for Pure Insight, a Care Leavers Support charity. He is also an associate of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care which works to improve standards and get people to understand that, done well, care in a children’s home can be the best care there is for some children.



Jean Templeton is Chief Executive of St Basils, a Charity and Youth Housing Association working with young people who are homeless or at risk in the West Midlands. St Basils have developed the national accommodation and support frameworks to support Local Authorities and their partners to prevent youth homelessness, including the generic Positive Pathway framework, the Care Leaver Accommodation and Support Framework and the Youth Justice Accommodation Framework.

The Positive Pathway (stbasils.org.uk)

Jean is Chair of the West Midlands’ Combined Authority Homelessness Taskforce and is a member of the Government’s Advisory Panel on Rough Sleeping and Homelessness and chairs the national Youth Homelessness Parliament.



Isabelle Kirkham is a firm believer of all thing’s creative, change, and improving life for all care experienced people. She is always challenging care experienced narratives and stigmas if that’s on Twitter, a blog post or even a book. A graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, with a first-class honour’s degree in Drama, Applied Theatre and Education. Spent from the age of 9 in the care system, and about to “age out” in January 2022, at the scary age of 25.

Current Projects:

Reclaim Care: A care experienced collective focused on healing together, supporting each other, understanding our shared histories, and imagining possible futures.

Us to You: A piece of spoken word, in direct response to all non-care experienced people and the things they have labelled us with



Jerome Harvey-Agyei is a passionate and driven young man who grew up in the care system from the age of 4 years old. Although he has been through many struggles, like many he uses these experiences to reach out to the most disengaged and help to empower them to fulfil their full potentials (pain to positivity). His core values are around ‘creative empowerment’, creativity is the hook, and the empowerment is the message underneath it.


Jerome is the Co-Founder of 'The Tope Project' & Tope Today, and works as a Senior Children & Youth Participation Officer at Greater London Authority. He also works as a radio host, and is a One Young World Ambassador.. He has been featured on a variety of platforms in regards to some of the work I have done, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and nominated for awards, such as the Waltham Forest council leaders’ awards.



Lucy Johnson is a qualified social worker who has over 30 years’ experience working in the child, young people, and family sectors where she started off as a residential social worker, moving on to training as an advocate and currently managing services providing MH advocacy, family support for parents/carers affected by children/young people at risk of exploitation, MH support to disabled children and young people. Lucy has worked for Barnardo’s as a manager of various services for the past 27 years.


She has an extensive background in social care focussing on children and young people who are in care or care leavers, early intervention services for families and young people, advocacy, participation and children and young people affected by parental/sibling imprisonment, holding posts across multiple services within Barnardo’s.


Lucy’s passion for improving the lives of looked after and leaving care children and young people has enabled her to continuously form and maintain links with young people and organisations whose goal is to increase the visibility of the issues - and thereafter improve – that children and young people face.

Key Contributors