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fabtic’s Managing Director Joanna Foster is passionate about the need for frontline work to be underpinned by evidence-based practices.

To this end, she first completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health, whilst working full-time at the London Fire Brigade. Her essays applying national mental health policies to fire brigade interventions for children who set fires were awarded a first.

More recently, whilst running fabtic and writing her book, Joanna finished a Master’s in Applied Criminology, Penology and Management at the University of Cambridge.

Achieving a distinction, Joanna’s thesis explored the identification of risk and need when working with children who set fires. Three themes were in evidence across the data generated in her mixed-methods, explanatory, sequential design study: inconsistency in service provision; an absence of staff self-legitimacy, largely attributable to a lack of supervisory relationships that can nurture self-verification, and the invisibility of emotional labour.

Whilst this national picture appears highly problematic, frontline staff who took part in the study identified how these concerns could be addressed. Firstly, the development for the first time of a firesetting risk assessment tool for children who set fires. Secondly, formal expert training for staff in this much-misunderstood public health and social justice issue, and, finally, national written guidance in an area of frontline work that is largely hidden from view.

For a full copy of the thesis, please contact us

In the Media

See Joanna’s work featured on the BBC and in the Financial Times


Read more about Joanna’s publications and writing projects


Access Joanna’s thesis exploring the identification of risk and need in children who set fires


"I first met Joanna in August 2004 at an International Conference on Juvenile Firesetting in Philadelphia, USA. As soon as I met her it was obvious how she had a very warm and infectious personality and a great sense of humour. Since the first meeting with Joanna and in all of my contacts and connections with her since, I can honestly say how professional, knowledgeable and approachable she has always been. I feel she has so much information and help to offer and share with others to progress the field of firesetting behaviour. I would commend her to anyone who feels that they could benefit from this."

Doug Underwood, Community Safety Team Manager Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

"I first met Joanna about five years ago when I was working with juvenile firesetters in Yorkshire. Not only was she incredibly knowledgeable about firesetting behaviour but she was, and still is, amazingly generous in sharing that knowledge. Her enthusiasm is infectious and the dedication she invests into working with young people shines through. Having attended training provided by Joanna I can vouch for the thoroughness of the provision, but it is more than that. Joanna provides engaging, person-centred delivery with genuine understanding and complete professionalism. Joanna understands the whole range of factors which can impact on a young person’s behaviour, including those that fall under the Safeguarding umbrella. Joanna genuinely is the real deal. I can wholeheartedly recommend her. She is professional, dedicated and has a passion for understanding and helping change the behaviour of juvenile firesetters and their families."

Jenny Townsend B Ed T Cert, Headteacher (retired)