Meet the Team
Joanne is a qualified social worker with over 22 years of experience working with children and families.
Joanne is responsible for ensuring the fostering service is operating within statutory regulations and manages the social work team which covers assessment, supervision, training, quality assurance and compliance. She also makes sure the foster carers are fully supported at all times and contributes towards the strategic vision of the organisation.
Outside of work Joanne enjoys looking after her horses, reading and getting involved with local community activities. She is also a mother and grandmother.
Supervising Social Worker
Nafeesa is a qualified social worker who chose to work in fostering as this has always been her passion.
Her duties involve working directly with foster carers ensuring they are fully supported in their fostering journey. She keeps in frequent touch with foster carers and children or young people in placement through regular visits and telephone calls. She makes decisions on matching a child who fits with our foster carers terms of approval and also fits with them and their family. Her role also involves carrying out Form F assessment for new prospective foster carers.
Hobbies are all mainly family orientated as she has two young children who keep her very active. She enjoys exploring new places with her family and when she does get some time to herself she loves to read.
Supervising Social Worker
Marie is a qualified social worker who has experience in both children and families and adult social care settings. Marie’s parents have been foster carers and this has driven her to work in fostering as this has always been her passion.
Marie’s duties involve carrying out Form F assessments on new prospective foster carers. She also works directly with foster carers to ensure that they are fully supported during their fostering journey. To ensure both foster carers and children and young people in placement are being supported Marie aims to be available and flexible when carrying out regular visits and phone calls. Marie also makes decisions on the matching process to ensure that our foster carers and children in placement fit well.
During her spare time Marie likes doing activities with her son and wider family such as going for walks, swimming and crafts. Marie also loves to read and go to the cinema.
Supervising Social Worker
Amy started as student here at Olive Branch, her skills and qualities far exceed those expected from a student and she fitted in so well with the team, we had to take her on full time as a Supervising Social Worker.
Her responsibilities include attending initial visits, filling in Form F assessments and organising recruitment days. Within the role, she provides continuous support for our foster carers. Her favourite thing about the job is meeting new people and dealing with the complex challenges related to social work.
In her spare time, Amy has an obsession with music especially anything from the 90s. Amy has a passion for dancing and has been award ‘Dancer of the Year’, ‘Cheerleader of the Year’ and ‘Scottish Highland Dancer of the Year’ within her dance school. Nearly all of her spare time is spent with her family and friends.
Panel Administrator & Placements Officer
Amanda is a qualified social worker with experience practicing in a fostering environment and this helps to inform her current roles. Amanda has also grown up within a fostering household, as her parents have fostered for over 15 years! Amanda originally joined Olive Branch as our Fostering & Panel Administrator in February 2017 however, we thought it was best to use her skills and experience elsewhere – namely as our Placements Officer!
Amanda’s current role involves overseeing the administration functions within the office, and now includes reading & assessing incoming referrals from Local Authorities and matching the children with our foster families, where possible. Amanda is still also responsible for the operation of our fostering Panel, ensuring it is well organised, running efficiently and meeting the legal requirements.
Outside of the office, Amanda enjoys watching movies (comedies being her favourite) and ‘binge watching’ boxsets. Amanda is also an animal lover; with Rolo the Chocolate Labrador and Smudge the Cat demanding a lot of attention and playtime!
Child and Young Person Advocate and Support Worker
Sophie’s background is Early Childhood (BA Hons) which covers the educational, social, psychological, law and developmental aspects of childhood, along with a further studies in MSc Psychology. Sophie has experience working with vulnerable children and families within local nurseries and children centres. Growing up with both parents as practising Social Workers, Sophie has always thought how important it is to support children and families in need.
Sophie’s role involves working closely with the supervising social workers and getting to know every child, both looked after and birth children within the agency. She works directly with the children ensuring their voices, thoughts and feelings are heard. To create and maintain good relationships with the children, Sophie keeps regular contact by visiting the children and young people and organises activities for both children and their families. Sophie is developing a young person work group to find out what really matters to children in care. Sophie represents the child’s voice on panel.
During her spare time Sophie enjoys walks in the countryside with her cheeky Beagle, spending time with family and friends, eating out and going to music concerts.
Gabi is our Panel Chair and is also a qualified social worker and university lecturer with over 20 years of experience. She is responsible for ensuring the panel operates in accordance with regulations, guidance and the policies and procedures of Olive Branch Fostering. She also facilitates the active participation of all panel members in contributing to the panels consideration of cases and to the making of clear and well evidenced recommendations.
Gabi is a lecturer in Social Work at the University of Salford. Her work for the past 7 years has involved family placement, both in fostering and adoption. She has an interest in working and writing on migration and in particular the experiences of mixed race children.
She has a love of music, dancing, concerts and theatre as well as supporting her children with their sports activities. Along with her love of travelling the world with her family, whenever she gets the chance!
Agency Medical Advisor
Dr Shazeya is a qualified GP and the agency medical advisor for Olive Branch. Her clinical role is to provide a written report to the agency on the health of prospective carers, which will include interpretation of health and lifestyle information provided by the applicant and their GP.
Gulwali is a special member of our fostering panel, as he has been in foster care himself so brings with him experiences and perspectives of a child in foster care. His role on the panel is to provide the child’s point of view in a fostering household.
Gulwali is an Afghan political refugee. He left Afghanistan in 2006 and recently graduated with a degree in Politics from the University of Manchester. He is a Global Youth Ambassador for global children’s charity Theirworld and has taken a long history of campaigning and leadership roles, including being the President of the United Afghan Peace Movement. He has told his story of life as a refugee in his autobiography.
Gulwali’s hobbies include reading watching cricket and walking.
Eileen is a headteacher who brings years of experience of working with children and young people. Having achieved many successes in her career including three Outstanding Ofsted inspection judgements and an OBE for Services to Education, she has joined Olive Branch to add her expertise to the make-up of the panel.
Eileen was brought up in a family with two adopted siblings alongside herself and her sister. She therefore has first-hand knowledge of how adopted or fostered children can change the dynamics of a family and strategies to help turn sometimes difficult situations into positive ones.
In her spare time Eileen plays the violin in a local orchestra. She also plays the piano and guitar and firmly believes that music gives children confidence and can comfort and sustain them at challenging times in their lives.
Matt is our Digital Champion and is currently studying Media Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University and brings with him a range of experiences working on different marketing and videography projects.
Matt is responsible for all things digital at Olive Branch (hence the title) and helps plan, develop and execute our digital strategy.
Out of the office, Matt has a hobby for macro wildlife and landscape photography, which involves capturing close up shots of insects and small animals in the wild.
Chief Executive Officer
Ziafat is the Founder and Chief Executive of Olive Branch Fostering. As a former educationalist and accomplished executive director, he brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Ziafat is responsible for leading the direction of the service through strategic planning, partnership working and setting standards. His passion for helping vulnerable children in society drive his efforts to ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved for children and young people.
Out of the office, Ziafat enjoys outdoor activities such as climbing and countryside walks. He is also a keen ‘crossfitter’.