Donna’s story

As Team Leader in our Kent Domestic Abuse service, Donna uses her own experience to help train fellow staff in how to support customers.

Donna's personal experience makes it easier to engage with her customers.

When I first started at Look Ahead I was working in a homelessness hostel. I was only there for about two weeks when an opportunity came up at the women’s refuge. The manager at the refuge gave me the chance to do some shadowing to see what working there was like, and I haven’t left since. Domestic abuse is quite a big part of my life and background.  Six years ago, I was in a refuge myself. I’ve been on both sides of the door and I think that makes it easier for me to engage with customers.

‘Today I am proud to be part of a team like the one that once supported me and my children.’

About a year ago, I was promoted to Team Leader at the refuge. I have got an amazing team and each person has got their own ‘thing’ that they’re passionate about. We’ve kind of created a role within the team for each individual; we’ve got a mental health person, a wellbeing person and someone who works with child sexual exploitation.

We’re a fast paced team, we have to be. Sometimes people just walk out of their house, unable to take any more. Our priority is to get them in quickly, to make and keep them safe. Everything we do at this service, with these women, is in partnership. We work closely with social work teams, other local agencies and the women themselves to make sure they get the support they need.

Today I am proud to be part of a team like the one that once supported me and my children. It’s rewarding to be able to support other families through what can be really dark times. I use my own experiences to speak to other staff about they can support people in the same position through Look Ahead’s Experts by Experience training. My manager tells me I am a great result of good services and support. I’d like to think she’s right.