Story 47 - Blog

Hazel's Story

Hazel works as an IT Trainer and Systems Administrator at Look Ahead and plays a key part in ensuring our staff are equipped to carry out their roles. She is also the longest serving member of our staff DisAbility Network.

I’ve been working at Look Ahead for around four years now. I first started my career at a general needs housing association, where I worked for nearly a decade. But later on, I became more interested in working in IT, so I moved into a new role at a national sight loss charity.

After a few years, I decided to take my new skills back into the housing sector, and, with its combination of both accommodation and support services, Look Ahead was a natural match for me.

I joined the team three weeks into the first Covid lockdown. The timing made my work extra important. There was immediately a lot to do as the organisation was shifting to homeworking. I had a key part to play in ensuring colleagues could work remotely where required with minimal problems. I led online training sessions for colleagues on HR systems, Outlook, calendar management, Microsoft Teams, and using SharePoint.

I not only led the training courses, but also produced them, alongside how-to guides, e-learning and more, sometimes from scratch, and of course, I focused on making these as easy and accessible as possible.

My goal was to ensure that the organisation could run smoothly and focus on our real priority of providing quality support to our customers, despite the disruptions of the pandemic.

I still lead on these activities now, and then some. It feels rewarding to see colleagues who may not have felt confident with computers before, developing their IT skills I can tell you.

I am also part of Look Ahead’s staff DisAbility Network. I had never been in a staff network until I joined Look Ahead.

We make sure colleagues know the network is there for them, and that Look Ahead wants to know what works well and what can be improved. Being a member has been fantastic so far, we’ve been getting more and more colleagues engaged, and have encouraged staff with lived experience to feed into the organisation’s policy and procedure reviews to ensure their views and needs are considered.

We also have conversations with HR to ensure members feel confident to approach the team if they want to raise anything, from signposting for additional support like assistive equipment, to acknowledging accessibility and awareness days.

I’m really excited that we are currently refreshing the network too, and that we can build on its early successes. In my view, our biggest achievement to date has been making conversations with the wider organisation two-way, I’m proud we are the main point of call for anyone who wants to discuss making the organisation more accessible and disability inclusive.

I’m looking forward to bringing the network to yet greater heights, and it’s been wonderful that Look Ahead has been behind us all the way.