Meet the Team: Karen Blanchard-Ellis

Karen has been part of the Pebbles family for almost 13 years. Joining the team back in April 2011, Karen started her journey on a part-time basis, working 16 hours a week to support the Business Manager.

Karen’s early responsibilities involved reaching out to commissioners across Scotland to build relationships and promote Pebbles’ services. Her efforts significantly boosted occupancy levels, setting a trajectory of success for Pebbles. As the company evolved from a family-owned venture, Karen’s role expanded, encompassing council meetings, administrative tasks, and project support.

Karen had no previous experience of residential child care before joining Pebbles. She qualified as a hairdresser when leaving school, then followed a totally different career path by joining a UK and international sales team where she developed her skills and was promoted within. Karen then decided to take a career break which led to her being a stay-at-home mum for four years.

Her transition to working in the care sector was fuelled by her desire to make a meaningful difference to children’s lives. She was able to take the transferable skills she’d gained through her previous employment such as communication skills, problem-solving, time management, attention to detail and relationship-building. Everything else, she has learned on the job.

Over the years, Karen’s dedication saw her to take on various roles within Pebbles, leading up to her appointment as Head of Commissioning in October 2023. Managing a team of four Referral Coordinators, Karen has effectively streamlined the commissioning process to allow herself and her team to efficiently handle a high volume of referrals and place children in a carefully matched home.

Karen has placed a strong emphasis on the matching process since her appointment to Head of Commissioning, ensuring it is as streamlined as possible. This not only facilitates clear communication but also enhances the likelihood of successful placements, ensuring children find suitable homes where they can flourish.

For Karen, the role of Head of Commissioning is more than just a job; it’s a fulfilling opportunity to give back and make a tangible difference in the lives of children. Her journey from part-time support to a leadership position exemplifies Pebbles’ commitment to nurturing talent and driving positive change in the care sector.

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