Story 44 - Blog

George's Story

George is Look Ahead’s Associate Director of Health Strategy. He works together with key health and social care stakeholders to improve and promote our services.

I first joined Look Ahead in 2009 when I got accepted onto their graduate scheme. It was my first job, and first experience of social care. I did a rotation across different departments and supported customers in a young people’s service. I spent time with the Co-Production Team as well, where I focused more on the strategic side of Look Ahead’s work. At that time, I helped set up our Experts By Experience customer volunteering programme, which I’m pleased to say is still ongoing today.

Five years later, I wanted to try something different, so I left to set up a night club. I changed my mind after a year and went back to work in health and social care. I noticed that lots of what I’d been doing was related to the NHS in some way. So, I took up health-focused research roles in a couple of university health partnerships. I worked on how research findings by the university’s psychiatry and psychology teams could be applied practically in hospital.

I came back to Look Ahead in late 2022 and took up my present post as Associate Director of Health Strategy. I look at how we apply both research and clinical knowledge into our existing services to improve them. My goal, is to expand our services, consider how we inform them, and make sure we evaluate them in a robust way. I build partnerships so we can make this happen and investigate how we can replicate the very best parts of them where appropriate.

Last year for instance, we commissioned Care Research to work on a report called Away from hospital and into the community, which was kindly funded by the Wates Family Enterprise Trust. After publishing, we launched the report in the House of Lords. The report revealed significant concerns, particularly on how A&E has become an accidental hub for young people experiencing a mental health crisis seeking support. The research articulated the need, and proposed a solution, namely that specialist supported housing services can better support young people as they recover, and ease pressure on the NHS.

With further funding from Wates, we are now in the second round of research, which explores what this service would look like. We have teamed up with MAC-UK – a specialist mental health charity focusing on excluded young people – who are currently supporting the project and spending time at several Look Ahead services as part of the process. We are excited to see the finished result.

I also work closely with Integrated Care Systems (ICS). ICSs bring together the health service, with the wider sector including supported housing providers like Look Ahead to see how we can solve shared challenges by working together.

I strongly believe organisations like ours can play an important role in resolving NHS challenges like demands for mental health services, and delayed discharge. We are part of the solution.