Charity signs lobbyist to bolster foster care brief

Foster care charity TACT is ramping up its in-house comms with the appointment of a former lobbyist as its first head of external affairs.

The charity has brought in Charles Willis, previously a director at Burson-Marsteller's public affairs practice. Willis left the agency late last year without a job to go to - just three months after joining (PRWeek, 7 July 2006).

Before that, he spent three years at BT, lobbying large contracts.

Willis said one of his first tasks in the new role would be to oversee a rebranding campaign. He said: ‘We are championing the role of the charity and its place as a service provider. But this is also the nuts and bolts of starting a much bigger strategic campaign. We are talking to senior government figures about how the charity can help.'

In addition to promoting its fostering work with local authorities, Willis will attempt to raise the profile of TACT's activities in adoption, mother and baby assessment work and ‘independent living' courses which prepare children in foster care for life as adults.

He will also seek to highlight recent positive ratings from Ofsted inspectors.

‘We are in the top quartile for quality and the bottom quartile for cost. There is a good story to tell,' he said.

Willis has handed been a broad remit taking in PR, lobbying and fundraising. He also coordinates the marcomms efforts of the charity's eight regional offices as they bid to attract foster carers.

Willis has one member of staff - fundraising manager Ros Jenkins - and reports to TACT chief executive Kevin Williams, who previously was doing much of the PR work himself.

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