Roana Roach obituary

My friend and colleague Roana Roach, who has died aged 58 of cancer, was a social worker who had an unstinting commitment to children living in care or on the edge of care.

She was also particularly mindful of the contribution she could make to helping black and minority ethnic children, and was acutely aware of the impact of racism and discrimination on marginalised groups of young people. At the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) she devised and delivered training courses aimed at improving care and support for BAME families and children, and also set up one of the first support groups for BAME adopters, who benefited from her valuable advice and skills.

Having started her career as a social worker at Waltham Forest council in London and then Barnardo’s, she spent her last 15 years as a trainer, consultant and latterly training manager at BAAF, now CoramBAAF, helping others to change the lives of children who had experienced abuse, trauma, separation and loss.

Roana was born in London to Jamaican parents, Lena (nee Campbell), a home help and foster parent, and her husband, Frederick Roach, who worked for British Rail at St Pancras station for 40 years. One of five girls – one of whom, Monica, was her twin – she went to Hornsey school for girls in north London, took a degree in philosophy and humanities at the University of Reading and then trained as a social worker at North London Polytechnic (now London Metropolitan University).

She became a general social worker at the London borough of Waltham Forest in 1982, moving on to become their fostering and adoption coordinator (1991-95) before joining Barnardo’s as a senior practitioner. In 2004 she joined BAAF.

Roana was an inspirational trainer with an inimitable style. Gentle and inclusive, with a sharp sense of humour, she could convey a lot with a grin, a lift of an eyebrow or a frown. Over the years she used her knowledge and experience to train hundreds of social workers, adopters and foster carers, both in the UK and abroad.

Away from work Roana also welcomed many children into her family home, which was known locally as the “house of fun”. She enjoyed music, won dance competitions with her husband, Winston Reid, a local government officer whom she had married in 1997, and loved visiting her mother in Jamaica, from where she would bring back delicious coffee, as well as rum fruit cake.

She is survived by Winston, their two sons, Kareem and Khalil, her mother and three siblings, Lcilda, Jennifer and Monica.

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