Mike has been at Look Ahead for over 15 years. As Head of Safeguarding and Quality, Mike works closely with staff and customers to ensure we provide the best possible services.
I joined Look Ahead over 15 years ago, back in February 2008.
I originally came in to set up a new young people service in Brixton, but within a year I was moved to manage a large young people’s accommodation service or what is known as a “foyer” in Elephant and Castle where I was the manager there for four years.
My responsibilities kept growing especially after Look Ahead won several additional young people service contracts in Southwark. Later on, I decided to try something new, and took on a maternity cover post of Quality Manager in 2013. My first task was to implement a new organisation wide quality system. This included introducing audits of all our services, ensuring we keep good standards, and meet both customer and commissioner needs. I’ve been responsible for the quality management process ever since.
One of the best features of our system is coproduction, and for many years now we’ve involved current and former customers as quality checkers to help us carry out internal audits. This has helped us gain a customer perspective and really understand what good quality services should be like.
In 2017, I became Head of Safeguarding and Quality, I was the first person to hold this role at Look Ahead. Since then, my role has been to work with my team to make sure Look Ahead has the right safeguarding policies and procedures in place, and that they are accessible and being followed. We also have a role to ensuring that staff receive the right training, and that our overall governance is as it should be.
In addition, we’re on hand to provide advice and support on these matters to services, but also to lead on investigations where we need to. My team is very responsive and I’m really proud of what they do. We provide good advice, and the entire team are former service managers, which means we can provide our colleagues with practical and realistic solutions as we’ve been in similar situations ourselves before.
The nature of our work at Look Ahead and the customers we support means situations can be complex, but our priority is to ensure we are promoting our customer’s rights. This includes the right to live free from fear of abuse, but also freedom to make unwise decisions, and that can be hard for us as staff to see!
Our role is to ensure our customers are supported to make their own decisions with the right information available, and an understanding of what may happen as a result.
One thing I love about Look Ahead is that there’s real openness to creativity and innovation. If you have a good idea, and you can articulate it, the door is open for you to give it a try.
For example, our team has recently developed a customer incident panel to help look at incidents and safeguarding concerns, and how are they are managed from the customer perspective. This is exciting, as it empowers the customers themselves and improves how we respond to future incidents.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 50 years holds for Look Ahead.