I started with Look Ahead straight from college in 2011 as an apprentice support worker at The Mews (a 24-hour 15 bed mental health project). It was scary at first, doing sleep-ins and dealing with difficult situations at 18, but the team were really supportive and eased me into it, and I did loads of really useful training.
Afterwards I spent some time gaining experience outside of Look Ahead, but returned in 2016 as a Senior Support Worker, as I found Look Ahead a very supportive company to work for, with lots of opportunities to learn and progress. Last year I was promoted to Team Leader at Southwark Bridge Road, a 28 bed supported accommodation mental health service, and was also nominated by my manager to do the Institute of Leadership and Management course to develop my leadership and management skills further.
The best thing about my job is that I feel that I’m am really making a difference to the quality of service that people are receiving, and I am able to constantly seek ways of improving the service. It is a very challenging role and there is always something new to deal with, but I have been well-equipped and well supported throughout my journey.
To someone considering this apprenticeship I would say definitely go for it – it is a year of invaluable experience and training, and Look Ahead’s apprenticeship is one of very few ways into this sector without a degree, certainly in mental health. For me it was a way to discover what I really wanted to do, whilst gaining the skills, experience and confidence I needed to go and do it.