Our Trainers

Talking Life has a large team of high quality trainers based around the U.K. We’d like to introduce you to them…

Update March 2022 – We are currently recruiting for new social worker trainers! Please contact us here if you are interesting in working for Talking Life.

Abdul Siddique

Abdul Siddique is a qualified Social Worker, Community Cohesion expert, trainer and Certified Muslim chaplain. He has Years’ of experience working with BAME communities within multi-agency public and private settings. He is a Home office approved intervention provider working on the government’s channel programme.

Abdul has grass root social, youth work experience with particular interests in deprived, disadvantaged, hard to reach immigrant and asylum communities. He has experience with engaging with BAME communities particularly those of south-asian Muslim origin. He has particular experience and expertise in community cohesion research, related teaching, training, representation and contributing to the advancement of social inclusion and inter-faith, cultural relations across the public, private and third sector spectrum.

Allan Johnston

Allan Johnston is a professionally qualified social care manager, who has worked in both practice and educational roles within social care for over 25 years.

Allan has developed and delivered many professional development events on a variety of topics relating to topics including substance misuse and mental health and its impact on children and families.

Allan has worked with the whole range of practitioners including health and social work staff at all levels and experience. Allan has also written local authority procedures for joint assessment processes.

Andy Cross

Andy Cross is a MCIPD HR consultant with a breadth and depth of HR and OD delivery through a variety of roles covering both private and public sectors. He has an in depth knowledge of a mix of strategic and operational delivery expertise across Industrial Relations, Employee Engagement, Learning and Development, Diversity and Inclusion, Policy Development, Reward, Resourcing and Selection.

He also delivers Level 5 CIPD Diploma in HR Management and L&D CIPD diploma programmes. Via the CIPD and Local Enterprise Partnerships, he volunteers his time to schools and colleges across Merseyside and Wirral as a Business Mentor and Enterprise Adviser. Andy is an engaging and popular trainer who has a gift for making ‘dry’ topics easily digestible

Annette Barnes


Anita Simpson

Anita Simpson is a registered nurse and qualified clinical lecturer, with a PGCE teaching qualification and many years’ experience of training health & social care professionals in best practice across clinical specialisms. Anita teaches extensively to both NHS and Local Authority social care staff.

She has also undertaken numerous research projects and presented her work at national and international conferences and has also participated in government funded research projects within the NHS. She is very much a ‘people person’ with an interest in interpersonal skills and quality evaluation to provide better a better service for service users wherever possible.

Andrei Szerard

Andrei Szerard was a qualified barrister for 27 years, specialising in family law at 3 Dr Johnson’s Buildings, Temple.  He has practised in all areas of criminal and family law, conducting cases at the Old Bailey, the Court of Appeal and the High Court in London.

He has extensive experience of, and interest in, child protection and is a highly popular and sought after trainer, combining his extensive legal experience and knowledge with an innovative and stimulating training style.

He has delivered over 100 Court Skills, Expert Witness training courses (including Report Writing for Court) and Age Assessment training to social workers throughout England & Wales.

Angela Daly

Angela Daly is a highly experienced and skilled Corporate Trainer and Organisational Development Specialist who combines communication and facilitation skills, along with extensive experience, to deliver professional results.

A qualified teacher of adults, Angela has many years’ experience designing and delivering tailored training interventions to a diverse workforce.

She is passionate about empowering, developing and supporting people to enhance their skills to improve personal performance and organisational effectiveness.

Angela thrives on supporting organisational improvement and influencing cultural change by developing internal and external relationships. She is an engaging and popular trainer.

Brigitte Spreeuwenberg

Brigitte Spreeuwenberg is an experienced Social Worker, Mental Health specialist and Systemic Psychotherapist in the fields of Child and Family Work, Substance Mis-use and Adult Mental Health.

Brigitte has extensive experience of Mental Health training in both Social Care and the NHS and has designed, developed and delivered a significant portfolio of more than 20 courses for voluntary and statutory agencies across the UK over many years.

Her courses are of the highest quality and have been enjoyed by hundreds of delegates across the Health and Social Care sectors

Cathi Bouaouina

Cathi Bouaouina is an adult care training professional with 18 years’ experience working as a  trainer and consultant. Her extensive experience spans from hospitals, residential care homes, nursing homes and day care services both within Social Services and the private sector.

With a solid grounding in operational issues and challenges within the residential care environment Cathi’s courses relate directly to the relevant Care Standard where applicable. As someone who has worked in many differing social care environments Cathi has an abundance of real life work situations to draw on to bring training to life. Cathi has an ability to communicate at all levels ensuring all learners enjoy the training and attain positive results.

Cheryl Pinner

Cheryl Pinner is a former experienced police detective with numerous in- force, crown court and national commendations for work carried out primarily in family liaison, victim and witness care and investigations.

Throughout her police career, Cheryl liaised with support agencies, assisting with training (victim support, Cruse etc) and gained extensive experience which underpins her training on Family Liaison and Bereavement and Crisis training.

She has been instrumental in setting up and training support volunteers in Cambridgeshire in mass disasters and continues to train regionally ,nationally and internationally in all family liaison and support issues.

Dawn O'Neill

Dawn O’Neill is a qualified social worker and registered with the Health Care Professions Council. Her experience in the field of  children’s social care settings is vast and spans 28 years.

She and also has a 10 year + background in the design, delivery and evaluation of social care training packages ranging from induction to leadership and management. Dawn has also delivered Safeguarding training on behalf of her Local Safeguarding Children Board.

She is a member of the Institute for Learning. Dawn has highly developed communication skills and an excellent understanding of human behaviour and factors which influence or create behavioural change.

Her work is always to high standard and she is particularly skilled around working with teams where a high level of mediation is required.  She is very skilled at managing group dynamics, particularly where multi agency teams are involved.

Dawn always keeps her knowledge of current developments, legislation and guideline current. Her course evaluations are consistently excellent.

A number of Dawn’s courses are CPD accredited.

Dr Celia Harbottle

Dr Celia Harbottle is a lecturer and trainer working in the field of Adult Social Care and Health with many years’ experience delivering a wide variety of training courses.

Her background is rooted in practice both in NHS provision and Social Services and she was a Senior Lecturer at both the University of Sunderland and the University of Teesside before deciding to train full time.

She has been involved in the design and delivery of courses to meet specific organisational need and is able to offer an extensive, constantly updated portfolio of training. She is a highly popular trainer because of her enthusiastic, informed and up to the minute knowledge and style of delivery.

Celia has also been recognised by the English Community Care Association (ECCA) as an approved provider of Mental Capacity Act training and is a GSCC (General Social Care Council) registered practitioner.

Helena Cava

Helena Cava is a self-motivated, committed and professional senior adult social care consultant and trainer, with extensive experience within the statutory and independent sector of staff management, project based consultancy, training and interim management of operational services.

With a sound knowledge base of the social care sector, skills include project management, research, the designing and delivering of training modules, detailed analysis, investigation, and assessment.

With a background in health based social work, Helena has worked in a number of diverse local authority settings and carried out organisational reviews and projects.  She remains a registered social worker.

Holly Carter

Holly Carter is an experienced counsellor, supervisor and trainer, who has worked for Relate for over ten years, combining this with a private practice in Exeter. Prior to obtaining a Master’s degree in Relationship Therapy, Holly enjoyed a twenty year career as a practising barrister, specialising in family law in chambers at 3 Dr Johnson’s Buildings, Temple, London. She has also trained and worked as a family mediator.

Subsequent to obtaining a PTTLLS qualification, Holly has written and delivered numerous training courses for diverse organisations including the CAB, Relate, and the Stroke Association.

She enjoys training, and recognises the importance of blending the professional with the empathic, encouraging participants to recognise and build upon their existing competencies, alongside the lifelong learning of new skills.

James Upton

James Upton is a qualified Social Worker and a member of the international body Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT). He worked in the drugs and alcohol field for 10 years focusing on adult treatment, children in care, young offenders and as a manager in the NHS working with children and young people in treatment. Until 2016 he worked as a practicing Social Worker and Safeguarding trainer with a key focus on children, young people and their families. James has also lectured at University on Health and Social Care. James is now a Freelance trainer working for a range of organisations including the NSPCC, Alcohol Change UK and In-Trac. He also provides a portfolio of private training in Motivational Interviewing and Safeguarding.

Training has formed a key part of James’s portfolio over the last 24 years in his work across 5 different local authorities. Since 1999 he has delivered Safeguarding training and Motivational Interviewing training to early Years, Schools and Colleges, Alcohol and Drugs workers (children and adults), Youth Workers, Teachers, Social Workers, Multi-Agency staff involved in safeguarding and Youth Offending Team staff.

At the heart of his approach to training and consultancy is his compassionate approach and the belief that a collaborative approach to working with people to affect change in their lives works best.

John Keegan

John Keegan is an experienced Mental Health professional with an extensive and varied job profile at senior level in health and social care. He has worked consistently in Mental Health since 1982 and for the last 18 years has worked in an operational management capacity, being involved in the development of existing and new services both within the NHS and the independent sector.

As a Clinical Director and Hospital Manager, and throughout his Mental Health career, Safeguarding has underpinned all of his work and as a Hospital Manager from 2013-15 John was responsible for managing a large scale review of services by Staffordshire safeguarding. Similarly, staff training to the highest quality has formed a key part of his work as a Manager.

John has been delivering freelance training since 2017 on topics including Safeguarding Adults and Children (at all levels), the Mental Capacity Act, Mental Health Act, DoLs, Dementia Care and other mandatory training topics.

John has outstanding communication skills and a gift for conveying sometimes complex information to a wide audience in easily digestible form and retaining their attention. He has received consistently excellent feedback in his sessions.

Judy Hardman

Judy Hardman is a qualified and experienced social worker and social work manager. She began her career in Liverpool, working with people of all ages, and then moved to Leicestershire, where she specialised in managing family support services, children’s centres and youth offending services. She was Programme Manager for the Leicester Children’s Fund for five years, a Government-funded early intervention scheme for disadvantaged children aged 5-13.

Judy now works as an independent consultant & trainer with Local Authorities across the UK to help them in developing and improving their services. She is an accredited peer reviewer with the Local Government Association, and an Associate Consultant with Research in Practice, with whom she delivers training for social workers.

Judy is also an Action for Children associate and in this capacity regularly delivers training on safeguarding in schools.

She has developed and delivered training programmes on a range of subjects, including reflective supervision, relationship based social work, working with resistant parents, evidencing outcomes, and child abuse linked to belief in witchcraft and spirit possession.

Justine Caroll


Karen Livesey

Karen Livesey is a qualified teacher, youth worker and experienced trainer. She began her professional career as a Primary School teacher in London before becoming a Senior Youth Worker and Advanced Practitioner for Lancashire Youth and Community Service. A management post she held for 26 years. With increasing issues identified in child sexual and criminal exploitation Karen pursued specialist training in child sexual exploitation, safeguarding, modern day slavery and sexual health. She completed Advanced training in Sexual health, Advanced Safeguarding, Adverse Childhood Experience training, Advanced training in Child sexual exploitation, and a PGCE at UCLan in “Leadership and Management in Social Work and Social Care”.

Karen is an outstanding communicator and her courses are consistently highly rated by those attending

Matt Joyce

Matt Joyce is a hugely experienced trainer who offers an extensive portfolio of topics, developed and delivered over more than 13 years.

A qualified teacher, he has worked in further and higher education with evening, part-time and full-time students and in a vast range of public and private sector organisations delivering high quality training to build the personal and professional development of people in many disciplines. This means Matt is able to relate to the breadth of circumstances learners are likely to find themselves in.

Matt’s wide range of training courses include everything from Customer Service and Holding Difficult Conversations to Dealing with Conflict and Reputation Management on Social Media.  Matt’s training videos have been used by individuals across the UK, USA and 23 other countries worldwide.

Mary Anne Crook

Mary Anne Crook has an NHS Health Promotion background where she delivered training for 20 years as part of her job, taking early retirement in 2012. Now an independent trainer, she delivers Pre Retirement, Mental Health & Bereavement courses to clients in health, social services, local authorities, the voluntary sector, emergency services, housing organisations, youth organisations etc.

As well as herself experiencing early retirement, she has trained with the Pre-retirement Association of Great Britain and has delivered advice to many people planning to retire throughout the public sector.

Mary Anne is also an accredited ASIST and SafeTALK trainer, delivering internal trainings in suicide intervention skills and has developed and delivered courses on mental health awareness and stress management.

Peter Henderson

Peter Henderson is a flexible, engaging and dynamic trainer able to deliver complex concepts in an easily digestible way. As well as a White Ribbon Ambassador, he is, and continues to be, a frontline practitioner working as a Probation Officer.

He specialises in working with men who present a high risk of harm to others and have diagnosed or probable Personality Disorder (PD).

Peter’s work with perpetrators of Domestic Abuse involves one-to-one psychotherapeutic interventions delivered through supervision, referrals into other agencies such as children’s services, mental health, substance misuse and internal/external specialist programmes to address Domestic Abuse.

All of these are MAPPA managed and some are active MARAC and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) cases. Peter is able to use his current practitioner experience to inform his Domestic Abuse training courses.

Paul Gapper

Paul Gapper is a Masters-level trainer and coach with experience of the public, private and third sectors.

In 2017, he was a finalist in the Trainer of the Year award for the Learning and Performance institute.  He holds the CIPD training certificate and is qualified to carry out both Myers-Briggs and Thomas-Kilmann assessments.

In the 1990s, he worked as a probation officer in London doing both field and group work.  For three years, he was chair of the Middlesex branch of the National Association of Probation Officers.

Using his experience in teaching interpersonal skills he started to teach interpersonal skills in the NHS and London Boroughs from 2000.

Since that time, he has been worked as a freelance trainer. Highlights of his training have included working with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Greenpeace and the Health Research Authority.’

Ray Douglas

Ray Douglas is an experienced Desist ace & Behaviour Management Specialist, Youth Offending Worker and dynamic Trainer with a very successful track record of working within the Criminal Justice System.

Ray has wide expertise and success in the delivery of Learning, CPD and training for practitioners within the public and third sectors and success in managing, mentoring and increasing positive outcomes for both staff & service users working to reduce systemic youth violence.

A prolific Public Speaker, as well as Trainer & Seminar Leader, Ray launched ‘Gangology’ a CPD workforce development programme for practitioners working with young people at risk of life-threatening behaviour relating to Gun, Knife & Gang Culture.

Ray draws on his years’ of experience in this field to deliver exceptionally high quality and evaluated Gang Culture training for Talking Life.

Robin Watts

Robin Watts is an experienced independent safeguarding trainer and consultant specialising in delivering child protection training to local authorities, schools, charities and other organisations nationally and internationally. He has delivered safeguarding training in over 80 countries and is a former Metropolitan Police detective, where he spent 10 years working in the child abuse unit, as a child abuse investigator and instructor/trainer.

Robin delivers training to police officers and social workers on all aspects of child abuse investigations, including courses on Forensic Interviewing of Children (ABE), Joint investigation course, Section 47 C.A. 1989 (significant harm) training, assessment skills training, radicalisation, FGM, forced marriage and the like. He has delivered child abuse awareness training to staff who have contact with children in numerous organisations such as schools, charities and volunteer organisations as well as delivering advanced training to ‘Designated’ staff. Robin specialises in dealing with child abuse investigations in the context of international schools all over the world as well as advising on Child Protection Procedures, Policies and Practices.

He predominately trains in children’s and adults safeguarding courses at all levels.

A gifted and popular trainer, Robin’s courses are consistently highly rated.

Ruth Poyser

Ruth Poyser is a qualified social worker and trainer with more than 17 years of experience working for local government as a frontline social worker, team manager and latterly strategic development and training as workforce development officer.

During this time, Ruth has specialised in working with adults with special educational needs and disabilities and brings a sound working knowledge of current and changing legislative framework to her training. She has a broad knowledge of policy, guidance and research across a range of  service areas at a local and national level.

As SEND Service Improvement Officer and SEND Training and Development Officer Ruth was involved in the implementation of the Children and Families Act 2014 (Section3) and aspects of the Care Act 2014. She played an integral role in facilitating and embracing a change management process and workforce development programme.

As a trainer, Ruth is empathetic and sensitive to individual learning histories and  able to articulate and deliver information in a clear and succinct manner.

Sara Bond

Sara Bond qualified as a Social Worker in 2000 and since then has worked within a number of different social work settings. She has worked as a front line Social Worker and then Manager within Children’s Health and Disability services and within Children’s Safeguarding teams.

Since becoming an Independent Social Work Consultant in 2011, Sara has undertaken independent assessment work, such as fostering and adoption assessments and investigations into allegations of professional misconduct. Sara is an experienced social care trainer and lecturer, having undertaken training for  Local Authorities and Universities.

Sara has created and delivered a number of training programmes / lectures / CPD courses on topics including ‘Working with Resistant Families’, ‘Attitudes and Values’, ‘Social Work law’ and ‘Effective and Efficient Social Work Practice’.

Sara is passionate about the importance of lifelong learning and having time out of busy working lives to have the opportunity to reflect, learn and develop as practitioners.

Sarah Clay

Sarah Clay is a qualified and experienced consultant trainer bringing expertise in: training and facilitation of managers, staff, volunteers and young people; organisational strategic development; anti discriminatory practice; and action research and project evaluation.

Over the past 33 years she has worked in and with a broad range of social care, housing. Community and children’s/youth organisations within the statutory, voluntary and independent sectors.

Since 2002 a major part of Sarah’s freelance work has involved a lead role delivering large/small-scale training programmes for the Adult Social Care workforce in Local Authorities and Mental Health Trusts.  Recent training commissions have focussed on: the Care Act (2014); Strengths-Based Approaches; Outcomes Focussed Assessment & Support Planning; and Legal Literacy/Defensible Decision-Making.  She also delivers training for a large national children’s charity.  She regularly designs and delivers bespoke learning and development programmes, accredited and unaccredited, to social work, adult’s and children’s services and supported housing staff.

Sarah Mcentee

Sarah McEntee is a highly motivated and passionate trainer with over 10 years’ experience within Local Authority Social Care areas of Child Protection, Looked After Children and Provider Services. As a qualified social worker and social work manager in the North West, a strong focus on restorative practice, partnership working and permanency planning for children underpins all teaching on offer. Sarah an Honours Degree in English and Masters in Social Work promoting analytical and concise evidence in assessment writing is also a key theme is all areas of training delivered.  Sarah has extensive experience of delivering training to foster carers and parents of children suffering the impact of trauma as well as those at risk of contextual safeguarding concerns independently and also in partnership with the NHS. As an active statutory social work manager, Sarah remains close to grassroots practice and has the ability to link theory and research to real life social work practice.

Sean Liddell

Sean Liddell is an engaging and versatile Consultant, Coach and  Trainer, with over 15 years’ experience.  Sean delivers innovative training courses to provide sustained personal growth and professional development. Extremely people-focused, Sean has always strived to drive the development of colleagues and clients to the highest level achieving satisfaction when they achieve company and personal aims. A natural motivator, Sean utilises his coaching skills to challenge and embed learning to effect positive behavioural change.

Stella Camara

Stella Camara has worked in Health & Social Care for over 18 years, the last eight years, were at Senior Management level in the adult care sector where she also worked as a mentor and trainer.

After gaining training qualifications, Stella became an independent trainer in January 2016 and has delivered countless courses on a wide range of subjects, particularly accredited first aid at all levels.  Stella is passionate about providing people with the knowledge they need to “do better” and she has a mission to eradicate bad practice.

Her approach is based on facts, hands on practice, regulatory and legal framework. She tries to strike a balance of “Show and tell” by using relevant examples, demonstrating and explaining the repercussions of bad practice.  Stella is adaptable when delivering training and tailors it to the needs of her target audience using various tools to ensure that learning styles are catered for.  This makes for variety in each training session, maximizes impact and specifically meets the needs of the service.

“This is the best MCA training I have ever been on” – Adult Social Worker, London

“Exquisite training!” – Adult Social Worker, London

“Best training I have ever had. Extremely interesting” – Adult Social Worker, London

Steve Davies

Steve Davies is a qualified lawyer and a former police officer who was responsible for the  management of safeguarding investigations.

Steve has provided training on safeguarding locally and nationally to a wide range of statutory organisations and has also worked in USA carrying out research into domestic abuse and effective interventions.

Steve’s front line practitioner experience informs and enhances the delivery of his training courses to a very high level.  Steve regularly delivers training for Talking Life on Modern Slavery and Trafficking.

Sophie Gilbert

Sophie Gilbert is an experienced Social Worker of ten years and a NAAS Accredited Practice Supervisor. Sophie has worked within a number of different social work settings and services, from front line safeguarding teams, to MASH and also specialising in Domestic Abuse Responses.

Later in her career she moved into the Learning and Development of social workers and children’s services staff with her working roles focusing more on Practice Improvement. Over that time Sophie’s training has been recognised to have contributed to the improvement of services by OFSTED, within Community Care and her work was highly commended at the MJ Local Government Achievement Awards in 2019. She has delivered and presented seminars in large events such as COMPASS and Community Care Live.

Sophie has promoted a learning culture within organisations and has ran successful ASYE programmes in learning and development for Newly Qualified Social workers. She has experience in working with children in care to ensure their voices are heard in the implementation of learning and development as well as service delivery.

During 2019 Sophie has worked as NAAS coordinator in the biggest Local Authority in Europe developing NAAS preparation workshops, revision tools and supported candidates through their accreditation.

Tim Curtis

Tim Curtis is an experienced safeguarding trainer, former police officer and qualified trainer with a  Certificate in Education.  As a Detective Sergeant he ran the Specialist Investigation Skills training team in an English Police force and now trains social workers in both Children’s and Adult Services to interview in compliance with Achieving Best Evidence In Criminal Proceedings (ABE). In this capacity, Tim has delivered more than 60 ABE training courses in recent years on behalf of Talking Life,  to more than 20 local authorities in the UK as well as working with both the United Nations and UNICEF overseas.

He has experience of both residential social work having worked in Children’s homes in both the UK and overseas as well as more contemporary experiences working in a police child abuse investigation unit.

Tim has also written the draft Code of Practice for Chief Officers of Police regarding the investigation of Child Sexual Abuse investigations. This has involved consulting with Multi-agency groups and Third Sector organisations across England and Wales. The Code was ready for public consultation in Summer 2018 prior to being presented to the Home Secretary, once the public’s observations have been considered and actioned as necessary. This Code will have Statutory ‘teeth’.

Tim has a considerable reputation for high quality training. His attention to detail in his courses is very highly regarded by commissioners and course participants alike.

Tim Price



Hello! We are able to offer the vast majority of our courses online in a virtual classroom via your preferred video conferencing platform. All of our course contents have been updated to reflect the current COVID-19 situation. To enquire about any of our courses to be delivered online please go to our ‘Contact Us’ page.