Story 38 - Blog

Louise's Story

Louise is a customer at a Look Ahead service supporting people with a learning disability and Autism in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. She is passionate about the arts, and regularly performs with the Look Ahead Learning Disability and Autism Dance Troupe, as well as the nationally celebrated Choir with No Name.

I’ve been at Look Ahead for a few years now. I have a studio flat to myself at the service where I live. I decorate it how I like to make it homely. I love using the communal areas too, there’s a lounge where I relax, watch telly, and do activities with my housemates, and a kitchen that I’ve been learning to cook in.

I stay with my mum on weekends, and my dog Monty, which is great. I’ve actually had Monty to stay over at my flat before too.

Look Ahead helps me find volunteering opportunities too. I’ve enjoyed working with the Coproduction Team to help improve services, and I’m now a quality checker. I’ve sat on Customer Incident Panels too, and shared how I think Look Ahead can deal with incidents and problems better in future.

My support workers also helped me to volunteer locally with Pursuing Independent Paths or PIP. I attended social educational workshops, which helped me find a volunteer role doing tickets at the Tabernacle Theatre. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.

Performing is my real passion. I’ve been in the Look Ahead Dance Troupe for a while now. My support worker set the group up at our service, we get together, learn routines, and then perform them. I’ve performed at lots of big Look Ahead celebration events. It’s empowering to dance on stage in front of so many people, and I get such a lift from the audience’s cheers.

I sing as well. I was inspired after listening to the Choir with No Name at a Look Ahead event. The choir supports people who have experienced homelessness in some way, and I got in touch with them, to ask if I could join, and I’ve been loving it so far. In the lead up to Christmas last year, our festive singalong show sold out Cadogan Hall, and I was one of about 50 choir members to sing on stage with Tom Odell. It was amazing to be on stage with a real-life star.

I performed twice in one day at St Martin-in-the-Fields on Trafalgar Square and enjoyed the Christmas markets with my choir mates in between shows. The church was packed, some people even had to stand way at the back just to listen. It’s not the first time I’ve done double shows either. I sang with the choir at Look Ahead’s 50th Anniversary Celebration last year, and then performed with the dance troupe at the same time. I’ve never had to switch t-shirts so quickly.

Being in the choir has really given me everything, it’s built my confidence, and helped me make new friends. I feel so happy and relaxed when I perform, whether singing or dancing, and I have Look Ahead to thank for that.

My goal for the new year is to make sure I can balance everything out, I’m a busy woman, what can I say?