Our Team

Adoption England has a small central team working nationally with regional adoption agencies and other key stakeholders involved with adoption in England

Sarah Johal MBE

National Adoption Strategic Lead

Sarah has been the National Adoption Strategic Lead working with Regional Adoption Agencies since September 2021. Prior to taking up this post, Sarah was the Head of One Adoption West Yorkshire, the first Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) in England. Sarah has over 30 years’ experience as a social worker and has worked for Leeds City Council developing fostering, adoption and kinship services. Sarah is a firm believer in restorative practice and developing services based on research and evidence of what works well. Key to this approach is hearing from those with lived experience so they can influence decisions and services that affect their lives.

There are experienced social workers and RAA leaders working with Sarah regarding the progression of practice issues within the strategy as well as supporting the involvement of and voice and influence of experts by experience.

Eva Booth

Programme Manager

Eva is responsible for the implementation of Adoption England's programme of work with regional adoption agencies. She works directly with regional adoption agency leaders and other partners to strengthen the adoption practice and support provided across the country, as well as managing a team of project managers working to improve specific areas of adoption practice and policy.

Eva started her career in the social care sector as a qualified social worker in Finland and has over 20 years' experience working within improving processes and procedures. Eva is committed to improving the lives of vulnerable children, young people and their families. She works tirelessly to make improvements within the adoption sector and ensures the work delivered is consistent with our strategic priorities and aims, with the best interest of the children waiting to be adopted in mind.

Emma Holroyd

Project Manager

Prior to joining the Adoption England team as a project manager leading on adoption support and the adopter journey, Emma worked within local government as a Learning and Organisational Development Manager within children’s services for over a decade. Emma has over 20 years' experience working within specialist developing intervention teams to support vulnerable children and families, including in offender learning, youth offending workforce development and trauma informed care.

Emma and her husband Steven are loving parents to their two children, who they adopted in 2014 and 2015. Emma’s family were also one the first to adopt through the process of Early Permanence. Her son has additional needs due to his early start in life which has enhanced Emma’s knowledge in the journey of adoption and the support some families may need. She is a passionate advocate for improving adoption services for children, adopters, adoptees, and practitioners.

Helen Stevens

Project Manager

Helen has worked within children and family services for almost two decades and has extensive experience in improving outcomes for children, originating in business advise for childcare and early years professionals and then latterly specialising in the commissioning of children and family services. She is a passionate advocate for children and family rights and is committed to improving adoption services so every child with a plan for adoption can have the safe and loving home they deserve.

Within the Adoption England team, Helen’s work is focused on supporting and coordinating the matching workstream to ensure children with a plan for adoption are placed with the right adopters for them as quickly as possible. She also manages the Child's Journey Board which oversees all workstreams and projects currently happening to improve the child’s journey through adoption. This includes project management of the strengthening permanency planning work stream, which aims to provide children in care with stability as early as possible.

Helen Thomas

Project Manager

Helen is responsible for managing the Early Permanence workstream which aims to place children with prospective adopters on a foster carer basis while the courts are still considering whether they can safely return to their family or whether they might need to be adopted. The practice aims to limit the number of placements and feelings of uncertainty that many children in care experience. The practice is considered to be in the best interest of children by providing them with stability and a sense of permanency as early as possible. Helen is committed to promoting Early Permanence practice in England and works with adoption agencies to encourage them to place more children under Early Permanence arrangements.

Prior to joining the Adoption England national team, Helen worked within local authority services, specialising on improving activities for children and young people with SEND. She works tirelessly to ensure all decisions are made with the best interests of children in care in mind.

Ruby Shah

Practice and Development Manager

Ruby is a qualified social worker with over twenty five years of experience of working with children and families, of which twenty years is within adoption services.

Ruby joined Adoption England National team in October 2022, and is the national lead on family finding and matching for children with a plan of adoption. She has an extensive understanding of family finding and matching practices and has actively been contributing to the development of strategic programmes of matching initiatives across England. Ruby works closely with stakeholders across the sector to support, develop and promote innovative and evidence-based family finding practice nationally. She says “being part of Adoption England team motivates me in striving to achieve excellence. I am keen and committed in influencing and improving practice in matching to help minimise delays and progress matches for children."

Vicky Swift

Practice and Development Manager

Vicky is a qualified senior social worker who joined the Adoption England national team in June 2022.Vicky is skilled in working with vulnerable children and families and is committed to promoting the experiences and voices of birth families and relationships important to children pre adoption. Vicky leads on our maintaining relationship workstream, focused on finding ways for adopted children to have safe relationships with the people who were important to them pre adoption.

Vicky is passionate about exploring new ways of modernising adoption and the way that adopted people maintain links and connections to their birth identity. She works on several projects with adoption agencies and partners looking at improving services for birth relatives and also adopted people’s experiences of accessing their records and post adoption support. Vicky Says "I really feel passionate about listening to the voices of people who experience services to drive forward the change we hope to achieve."

Jenny Caldwell

Head of Marketing and Communications Strategy

Jenny has been Head of Marketing and Communications Strategy for the National Adoption Recruitment Programme Board since 2020. A commitment to sharing the stories of all those whose lives have been impacted by adoption is at the heart of everything we do to show what modern adoption is like today. Jenny is responsible for the delivery of national adopter recruitment campaigns, National Adoption Week and for raising the profile of adoption to a wider audience.
Jenny has two communication professionals working with her to support all the work within Adoption England.