Story 36 - Blog

Emma's Story

Emma works as a Community Connector across Look Ahead’s Tower Hamlets mental health services. She organises customer activities and manages important partnerships in the wider borough.

I first joined Look Ahead in February, so I’ve been here just over 10 months. I studied psychology at university and spent a year as a one-to-one teaching assistant working with a young person with Autism.

I enjoyed that role a lot, but my main interest has always been adult mental health, and that’s why I decided to explore working at Look Ahead. I initially applied for a Life Skills Worker position, but then I decided to go for the Community Connector vacancy instead. I went for it, and I haven’t looked back since. ‘What is a Community Connector?’ you may ask. Well, at the heart of it, I organise activities for our customers, create opportunities for them to engage the wider community, and manage relationships with valued partners too. This is important, because many of the people Look Ahead supports may experience social isolation, or struggle to access local activities and resources.

I am mainly based across two of Look Ahead’s services working with adults who have mental health support needs in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, but I also get to engage with other services in the borough as well.

My bread and butter is organising activities and events for our customers, there’s lots of variety in what we do, no two days are the same, I can tell you. For instance, we have a creative club for arts and crafts, and a women’s group. I like organising social activities in particular, because I get to check in with the customers and see how they’re doing. They enjoy catching up and so do I.

Keeping our offer varied is important to me. Recently we applied for a grant from Sports England which we’ve put towards activities like Thai Boxing, women only dance sessions, and chair yoga. We’re planning to set up a walking group, and cricket and rounders games next summer as well.

Managing community partnerships is a big part of my role too. For example, we have a relationship with the anti-food waste charity the Felix Project which is part of the national anti-hunger network FareShare. We have a brilliant arrangement, which our customers really love. The Felix team deliver chilled and pre-prepared meals, food parcels and other extras to our Recovery Centre in Bethnal Green every week during our customers’ social group.

It’s been wonderful to see how this partnership has grown, the Felix Project has since donated a freezer to the centre too, allowing us to store more ready meals and have access to a wider range of food. This also comes in handy when customers are in need of emergency food when local food banks are closed.  This food is open to all Look Ahead Tower Hamlets mental health services. We often have support workers drop by and collect a haul of meals to give out in their service as well. Around Christmas time the partnership gets even closer, and the Felix Project team deliver a van load of goodies for customers to enjoy. Staff and customers both appreciate the Felix Project, and we’re so grateful for all they do.

I also attend meetings with local organisations such as the council to find other opportunities outside of our services for customers. Recently for example, I met a representative from the communities’ team at the Tower of London who kindly offered free tickets for our customers to visit the Tower of London.

This is what I enjoy most about my work. Every day is different, you just don’t get bored.