The Trustee Board

IRCT is a charity governed by a Board of Trustees elected from its membership. There are some formal roles to comply with the requirements of the Charities Commission and Companies House and then internal areas of responsibility which help us to develop the work of the organisation. All of our trustees are volunteers; IRCT also has a patron who supports the work of the charity but who is not a member of the board.

Rt Hon Baroness Butler-Sloss, GBE, IRCT Patron

Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss GBE was appointed to the House of Lords as an independent peer in 2006.  She was President of the Family Division from 1 October 1999 – 6 April 2005, and the first lady Lord Justice of Appeal (from 1988-99.) She was chairman of the Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry 1987-8. She is Chairman of the National Commission on Forced Marriage (NCFM) and former Chairman of the Commission on Religion and Belief in Modern-Day Britain and Chairman of Visitation of Exeter Cathedral. Amongst other titles, she is co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking, a Trustee of the Human Trafficking Foundation and a member of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Advisory Panel.

Mary Walsh, IRCT Patron

Mary is a Social Worker who spent many years working in the field of child protection before developing a specialist therapeutic residential care service for profoundly traumatised children (SACCS).  As founder and chief executive of SACCS Care Mary was at the forefront of delivering recovery for traumatised children for more than 30 years. Mary invested heavily in the training of her staff developing a specialist qualifying Foundation Degree course for residential carers. She is helping IRCT develop guidelines for training the children’s workforce.

Sylvia Duncan, Chair of the IRCT

Sylvia Duncan is a Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist who since qualifying in 1972  has dedicated her professional life to working with traumatised children and adults. She has researched and published widely in the field of child abuse and neglect and provided therapeutic services for children and families in recovery. She has always believed that the best potential therapeutic resource for helping children to recover from early trauma is those involved in their day to day care and education, provided that these adults are in receipt of appropriate training and support to be able to look behind the behaviour of the child to try to understand what the emotional drives might be for it thus enabling the development of appropriate strategies for responding to the child’s  emotional needs and not just  managing and trying to control their behaviour. She continues to offer consultation and training to parents, carers and other professionals working with abused, neglected and traumatised children to promote recovery from trauma.

James McAllister

James is a UKCP registered Child Psychotherapist with an MA in Transpersonal Child, Adolescent and Family Therapy and a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychosynthesis Counselling. He also has a Diploma in Creative Supervision

James has worked as  an adult counsellor, a child psychotherapist in several schools,  a therapist in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, and now as a supervisor to therapists, who are often working with traumatised children. Having developed a particular specialist interest in complex trauma, in 2008 he began to work as a creative attachment therapist with Catchpoint Ltd. (a post adoption agency) providing family focused therapy and support to children who suffered early developmental trauma and to the parents who were often experiencing secondary trauma.

James is keen to promote the right for all to recover from early developmental trauma and for all practitioners and professionals working with children in this field to have the opportunity to understand the effects of trauma and how to respond more effectively.

Jacqui Sansom

Jacqui runs her own programme, working with parents to resolve conflict and to create a secure family for children to thrive in. She began her legal career specialising in domestic violence and everything that flows from the breakdown of relationships, combining that with the role of treasurer for a women’s refuge, progressing up to being a family and child protection lawyer for over 20 years. During this time she has seen parental conflict lead to children failing at school, struggling to fit in socially and the impact this has on their well-being and long-term happiness.

The Powerful Parenting Programme is a structured and strategic approach based on Jacqui’s belief that to change parenting behaviour it is essential to understand ourselves better and identify our beliefs.

Jacqui was delighted to be invited to become a trustee of the IRCT, a role that she took up in 2019.   The mission and principles of the charity completely align with her own desires to become a part of one of the driving forces to make sustainable long-term changes for children.

Andre Palmer

Andre is an experienced social worker with over 25 years’ experience in social work and therapeutic work with children who have experienced developmental trauma. He has a demonstrated history of establishing successful social care businesses including independent social work services (WillisPalmer), residential &, education services for children who exhibit harmful sexual behaviour (Kites Childrens Services) and therapeutic foster care services (Mosaic Foster Care). He has a strong professional background specialising in care, assessment, and therapeutic services with children and young people who have experienced trauma.

Sarah Darton

Sarah worked in the NHS for 30 years as a Health Visitor, Named Nurse for Safeguarding and as the manager of a Sure Start local programme. In 2009 she joined Family Links the Centre for Emotional Health as Director of Programmes, becoming Chief Executive in 2018. Since her retirement in 2022 Sarah continues to deliver training in Family Links’ Nurturing Programme approach to professionals across the UK, with a focus on breaking the cycle of childhood trauma and enabling all children to realise their individual potential, enjoy positive relationships and live healthy and fulfilled lives.

Sarah is currently Chair of the Parenting Programmes’ Alliance, bringing together programme developers to influence policy and practice in the commissioning and provision of parenting programmes.

Jon Fayle

Jon has worked as a social worker or social work manager for most of his working life. He has also worked as a senior policy officer for the Youth Justice Board, mainly in the area of youth custody.

Since leaving the YJB in 2006, Jon has (among other things) worked as an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). He helped to set up the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers (NAIRO), with a view to enhancing the influence of the reviewing process for the benefit of children in care. He is now Co-Chair of NAIRO.

Between 2015 and 2018, Jon was Chair of the Board of Trustees of TACT, the fostering and adoption charity.

Since 2018, Jon has worked for Cafcass as a Cafcass Associate, in public and private law.

Jon also works as a consultant and trainer in the area of IRO practice and policy, and fostering.

Jon Reid

Jon joined Oxford Brookes University following a teaching career in both Primary and Secondary Education. His teaching career involved working in mainstream and special education settings, as well as working with the Local Authority. Jon has taught in a therapeutic residential school that catered for pupils who had experienced severe emotional trauma due to the accumulation of adverse experiences in infancy and early childhood and has been a Deputy Head Teacher of an Independent Secondary Special School, which supported children with complex learning needs, communication difficulties and ‘challenging behaviours’. As a Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University Jon is the MA: Education: SEND Strand Leader and works with Undergraduates exploring diverse and additional learning needs, alternative educational provisions and inclusion. He also works with students undertaking Initial Teacher Education. Jon has worked with a number of International and National organisations and has contributed to projects involving UNESCO and The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, The Department for Education, WholeSchoolSEND, London Leadership Strategy and National Education Trust.

Jon is currently exploring Teachers emotional work, support for their wellbeing and the role of compassion as part of his Doctoral research.

Chris Bennett

Chris is a child psychotherpaist with 30 years of experience in working with children and families. He provides services to children, young people, familiies and professional teams working with complex trauma, and individuals exhibiting sexually problematic and harmful behaviour. He has extensive experience of facilitating therapeutic programmes both within residential and foster care. His particular theoretical interests lie in psychodynamic work with traumatised children and young people, but he is also trained in and utilises various other approaches to therapeutic work, including cognitive/behavioural interventions and systemic thinking.

Chris also provides training to local authorities, residential providers and fostering agencies in understanding and working with issues of sexual abuse, sexually harmful behaviour and complex trauma.

Regional Advisers

Stephanie Hunter (Regional Adviser to the Board - Sunderland)

Stephanie qualified as a Social Worker in 1997. She worked for thirteen years in Local Authority Children’s Services, CAFCASS and CAMHS, winning national awards and accolades for the services she set up and managed for CAMHS. Stephanie is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of  Sunderland   Department of Childhood Studies teaching Law and modules related to her specialist research and clinical interests including attachment and promoting recovery from trauma. Stephanie has ongoing links with her Local Authority Adoption Team and recently undertook and published some joint research related to post-adoption support for promoting recovery from trauma. She is an experienced trainer and has developed an online CPD training package on recovery from trauma and attachment which has been well received.

Do you have the experience and the time to be an IRCT Trustee?

As a growing charity, we are always keen to hear from people who would like to get more involved. Someone with research experience / University links or those who have fundraising experience would be advantageous