Story 1 - Blog

Chris’ Story

Chris is Look Ahead’s Chief Executive and has been with the organisation since 1999.

I first come across Look Ahead whilst working with rough sleepers in Westminster in the late 1990s – Look Ahead was one of the organisations we referred individuals to. Never would I ever have imagined I would end up leading the organisation. But a few short years later, I joined the organisation as Head of Policy and Strategy and the rest, as they say, is history.

I became Chief Executive in 2015 – a huge privilege and responsibility, and one I never take for granted. Some things have changed a lot since those early days – some things not so much. Our roots are still proudly in homelessness and we still support people with these experiences all across London, including in Westminster, where I started all those many moons ago. 

But we have grown to do a lot more – mental health, learning disabilities, young people. And over the last five years, our services have become more specialist – supporting individuals with really complex, high acuity needs. Whether this be supporting a person with complex learning and physical disabilities to live in the community after 20 years in hospital or providing a community-based alternative to psychiatric admission, our work is going deeper into social care. And partnerships with the NHS and joint-working with clinicians are very much the norm, rather than the exception, across all our services.

What’s special about Look Ahead? It’s a cliché but for me, it’s the people, and seeing the difference they all make to those that need our support the most. I’ve always felt Look Ahead has a very unique culture – it’s retained its family feel despite being almost three times the size of the organisation I joined.

I’m proud of a huge amount of things Look Ahead has achieved over the last 50 years. It’s had an impact on many thousands of lives over the years, my own including. What I’m particularly proud of now is that at a time when a lot of organisations are exiting the supported housing market, we are digging in – delivering more services, becoming more specialist, really bridging the gap between health, social care and housing. I’ve been here myself close to 25 years, almost half Look Ahead’s history and these are challenging times no doubt. However, for me, the work we do has never felt more relevant or more needed. There’s still much to do.