Our Team

Val Carter - Executive Director

Executive Director of Home & Family, Val Carter, has experience in education and social services both here and in the UK. She has worked for Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry of Education, University of Canterbury and has taught at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Val’s experience of working with young people and their families has enabled her to understand how precious Home & Family’s work is to our community.

Sandra Talbot - Practice leader

Sandra manages the team of residential family workers who support families participating in our parenting services and accommodation programmes, and offers clinical guidance across all services. She has worked with Home and Family for 20 years and is really proud of the development of its services.

Sandra has always been passionate about ensuring a safe environment and support for families to address their concerns and keep their children in their care. She values Home & Family’s commitment to ongoing training and supervision for staff, which ensures services provided are robust and professional.

MNZASW, Dip Child Protection Studies

Natalie Cassidy - Lead Administrator

Natalie has diverse experience in working with young people and people from all walks of life.

Natalie’s strength lies in connecting with others and she embraces the opportunity to provide support wherever she can.

Claire Quinn - Financial Administrator & Our House Functions Coordinator

Claire has substantial experience in the corporate sector, having worked at businesses both in the UK and NZ.  Claire relishes the change and the challenges that working in the charity sector presents.  Qualified with a Bachelor of Social Science, Majoring in Business Management gives Claire a unique understanding of the importance of social relationships in a child’s formative years, through to adulthood. Claire thrives on organising and coordinating events, drawing on her work and study experience to ensure functions run smoothly and successfully.

Claire enjoys most forms of exercise (but in particular football), baking and is also a qualified nail artist.

Sue Martin - Grants and Funding Coordinator

Sue is driven in her new-found passion for working within the social services sector. Sue’s business acumen from 20 years operating her own company enables her to plan and implement new strategies for marketing and funding. Sue enjoys using her own creativity to make real changes in the lives of Canterbury’s children and families.

Sue who is originally from the West Coast, is the proud Mum of two girls and loves spending time with her family.

Parenting Team

Carol Watson -Team coordinator and Family Support Worker

“It’s a privilege to work with a team of people who are committed to supporting families as they navigate the challenges and complexities of parenting with the hope and reassurance that the best interest of the child will always be paramount.

Working with families has been my lifetime’s focus and so for me it’s a very easy fit to be part of the transforming and equipping work that Home &; Family does in our community.”

Certificate in Social Services and Child Protection Studies

Kirstin Waters - Social Worker

Kirstin is a registered social worker, and the newest member of the Parenting Programme whanau, and comes with a wealth of experience.

“My experience includes working with complex mental health and alcohol and drug issues. I have also supported people experiencing homelessness.

I am excited to join the team at Home & Family and look forward to my new role supporting families that use our services, to create positive change.”

Bachelor of Social Work

The House Team

As well as Sandra & Carol, the house is staffed with friendly and professional Whānau Support Workers, 24 hours a day. The team are there to give help and guidance to parents during their journey with Home & Family.

Counselling Team

Guy Adams - Counsellor

Guy specialises in Child Centered Play Therapy and also works with couples. He has a built a strong reputation for his work with children and young people. Guy places value and respect at the centre of building effective counselling relationships.

B.PRTM, G.Ct.Ls, PG.Ct.Soc.Sci, Dip.Coun, MNZAC

Heather McKain - Counsellor

Originally from Montana, Heather is a counsellor who has training in  biofeedback, mindfulness and play therapy. She has a great passion for working with children and young people. Heather constructs the counselling process to the individual child to build a therapeutic relationship.

ND, BSc-Community Health and Neuroscience, MAANP, NZAC-Provisional Member

Refocus Team

Rudolph Diaz, Kaimahi Whānau, Refocus Team Leader

Rudolph joined the Refocus team at the start of 2017, having been a youth worker for nine years. His experience in this field, alongside his career as a health promoter and time as a truancy officer, provide a solid platform that underpins his practice.

He most enjoys work in the community and he thinks the community centred and long-term nature of the Refocus programme are essential parts of its success.

‘I love being part of the Refocus team and the wider Home & Family team; there’s real synergy between our work and everyone is supportive. The five-year intervention that Refocus offers allows us to see each family’s journey and allows for far deeper work to take place. There is scope to work with the community to provide wraparound support for families.’

Poharama Nopera, Kaimahi Whānau

Poharama recently joined the Refocus team In November 2019. His previous roles consisted of being a Cultural Manager and helping to develop Māori Tikanga Programmes on behalf of NZ Corrections. He was also a Reintegration Worker for inmates being released back into the Christchurch community and was Cultural Advisor for the Rangatahi Youth Court based at the Ngā Hau E Whā National Marae.


“My passion is to help those of our whānau realize their strengths and potential, to overcome everyday challenges that many of them are faced with. To provide them with the tools and the guidance to help them make positive choices and enable healthy and happy outcomes for families.”

Cheyenne Tua, Kaimahi Whānau

Cheyenne joined the Refocus team in December 2019, Cheyenne has experience working within the disability sector as well as working alongside tamariki and whānau. Her studies and experiences have enabled her to gain a strong sense of Bicultural Practice, an in depth understanding of Te Ao Maori and the importance that has on people and practice, with that she brings a passion for empowering others to create positive changes and outcomes for themselves and their whānau.
“I am excited to be coming on board with the Refocus team and look forward to practicing and expanding on existing knowledge and skills. I strive to ensure the work I carry out is mana enhancing and in partnership, therefore, believe it is important when working with whānau that it is them that lead, walking alongside them while working to establish healthy connections and outcomes”.

Certificate in Human Services and Bachelor of Social Work

Stephenie van den Anker - Kaimahi Rangatahi

Steph joined the Refocus team in March 2019. She has a background in personal training and culture performance.

Steph’s passion for community and hauora (health) and brings with her an understanding of Te Whare Tapa Wha, which is greatly valued by the Refocus team. In her spare time, Steph runs a community hauora initiative, where she can engage with whānau, and works on inter-generational health.

Luke Penrose - Kaimahi Rangatahi

Luke joined the Refocus team in May 2019 and has a background in support work for adolescents focusing on both mental health and intellectual disabilities. He is driven to make positive, proactive steps in his journey alongside children within Refocus. 

He enjoys adding his values of good communication and active listening to his work, acknowledging the importance of being accepted, understood and heard. 

Zara Robson – Kaimahi Tamariki

Having spent the last 11 years in the fitness industry with a background in management, Zara has always had a deep desire to help individuals who require a greater need of support and guidance.

Studying both counselling and childcare many years ago, it has been a long term dream of Zara’s to assist our vulnerable tamariki.

“Through understanding and support I believe that children can better connect with themselves and others, enabling them to heal and establish meaningful relationships throughout their journey in life.”