Story 39 - Blog

Carol's Story

Carol is an Enablement Worker at Look Ahead’s Independent Living Medication Support Service (ILMSS) in Lambeth. She and her team recently launched a new Community Tea Corner in partnership with the local council.

I joined Look Ahead almost a year ago, back in February 2023. I first found out about Look Ahead from a friend.

I used to work as a healthcare assistant, and in palliative care, but working in mental health has been my ambition and my passion. I’ve always enjoyed supporting people, and making them happy, it’s a very natural fit for me.

I had wanted to work here for a few years before I applied. So, once I felt ready, I went for an enablement worker role at our Independent Living Medication Support Service (ILMSS). I got the job and that’s where I’ve been ever since. I love my job, I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

The ILMSS does not provide housing like most other Look Ahead services. Our customers live independently or in supported accommodation in the community, and we provide them with both floating and medication support after they leave hospital. Socialising and self-development are important for a person’s recovery and that’s where I come in. My role is to get customers active.

I ask about their interests, aspirations, and hobbies, then find them activities. Some customers want to get jobs and learn new skills, so I’ve helped them find volunteering opportunities, and enrol on IT and cooking courses. I’ve helped customers join a gym and enjoy painting and musical activities as well. I’ve also set up a walking group and gardening sessions where our customers visit other Look Ahead services and work on their green spaces.

I organise wellbeing workshops too. For instance, I invited the team from a local mental health organisation, Black Thrive Lambeth to run a session on mindfulness.

But the icing on the cake is our Community Tea Corner.  We launched the project last December, with funding from Lambeth Council to create a warm space and support people affected by the cost-of-living crisis. It’s fantastic, we get together every two weeks. The customers come by, enjoy a chat, some tea, coffee, and snacks, play some games, and then take a food parcel and toiletries home. We had a Christmas party too, where we served hot meals, as well as party food donated by Iceland. The corner is so popular. My customers find it really uplifting.

My manager is very supportive. I told her I wanted to learn more about counselling, and she encouraged me to take a 7-month course alongside my work. I’ve learned the basics already, which has really helped me in my current role, the customers feel comfortable to speak to me and ask for support, and I feel better equipped to advise them. My dream is to become a mental health counsellor. Look Ahead has been a great experience so far. I have a vision for what I want to achieve, and I’m getting closer every day.