On Thursday 6th February, historic art deco theatre The Troxy in East London was home to the 2020 Look Ahead Staff Celebration. Look Ahead staff from all across London and the South East were treated to a fun-filled day which celebrated the amazing work they do, accompanied by some excellent entertainment, an inspirational speaker and our Annual Staff Awards. Our staff at Look Ahead are key to our successes in providing high quality care and support, and the day was an opportunity to thank them for the dedication they show all year round.
The event was opened by the wonderful Choir with No Name London, a choir for homeless and marginalised people and partners of Look Ahead since 2017. The choir took to the stage and their set filled the theatre with delight as covers of songs from the likes of Marvin Gaye and Prince had the whole crowd dancing, clapping and singing along. The celebratory tone of the event had well and truly been set, and Look Ahead Chief Executive, Chris Hampson had the very difficult task of following the act with his opening remarks.
The event was an opportunity to highlight the innovative work that takes place throughout Look Ahead in our Learning Disabilities, Mental Health, Homelessness and Complex Needs and Young People services, and shone a spotlight on the partnerships we have formed. This included Westminster City Council’s Hidden Network campaign, which aims to highlight the work of organisations like Look Ahead that provide services in Westminster, and features our very own Seamus Manley, Service Manager at Hopkinson House
After a great lunch catered by street food specialists KERB Foods, guest speaker Josh Connolly took to the stage to talk about his experience of childhood trauma, family challenges, addiction, recovery and resilience. Josh’s honest and insightful speech captured the audience, and led to a lengthy Q&A discussion afterwards. Whether it was through their own experiences or from their work supporting our customers, it was clear Josh’s words resonated with the audience, and served as a reminder of the importance of the work Look Ahead staff do all year round.
The achievements of our customers, big and small, is what inspires us at Look Ahead, so it was particularly special to see Kevin, who lives in one of our hostels in West London, take to the stage as our second musical act of the day. Through poetry, spoken word and rap, Kevin tackles issues from his personal experiences and society in an energetic and engaging performance. He certainly helped to get the crowd in good spirits ahead of the reveal of the 2020 Annual Staff Awards.
Over the last few months, Look Ahead staff submitted nominations for their peers to win one of the fourteen awards up for grabs. The awards were presented to winners by members of our Senior Management and Leadership Teams to a great reception huge sounds of applause and cheering, signifying the support and respect among Look Ahead staff.
Look Ahead customers also submitted nominations for the Customer Choice Awards, an opportunity to say thank you for the care and support they receive. The Customer Choice Awards were presented to winners on stage by Look Ahead customers Connie and Raf.
As the award ceremony came to a close, Chair of the Look Ahead Board, Julie Jones CBE, took to the stage to close the event. Her words reflected the celebratory nature of the event, and how it served as reminder of the amazing work our staff do every day.