Valentina’s story

Valentina has built her career with us, progressing from a Support Worker to a Service Manager.
Valentina, Service Manager at one of our mental health services

Valentina heads up a team that work across two mental health services in East London.

I’ve always wanted to work in the mental health field. I studied Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Society at Master’s level and have also worked as a Psychology Assistant.

I started at Look Ahead in 2012 as a Support Worker in a mental health setting. This role greatly increased my understanding of the UK housing system; I’m from Italy and we don’t have the same system. After a while, I was identified as a potential leader and invited for an interview as a Team Leader and was successful. This was a position in a larger service for customers with high mental health support needs which was challenging, but also very interesting.

After a year I took a secondment as a deputy manager and when this came to an end I then applied for a temporary role which focused mainly on implementing Look Ahead values and practices in a new service. I was a little nervous at first because it was a new service for the organisation and was my very first role as a service manager. It wasn’t easy, but I’m very proud of my achievement, and after three months I was offered a permanent position managing the service.

Whilst I was managing a service I was also training to become a Psychotherapist. This was a professional clinical training which took most of my time outside of work and Look Ahead  was happy to accommodate the flexible time I needed in order to allow me to complete my studies.

Since November 2017 I have been working as a Therapist and Group facilitator for Look Ahead young people service in Hounslow. In my current role I support both customers and staff in different ways: I work with customers through one to one sessions and psychologically minded groups and support staff by facilitating reflective practice, complex case discussion and specialist training.

I also lead on mental health partnership in the service and I am currently working on the implementation of a Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE) within the service.

“I could take my career in the direction I always wanted whilst staying with the organisation that supported me”

I was excited when I saw advertised this role for the first time within Look Ahead as this meant that I could take my career in the direction I always wanted whilst staying within the organisation that supported me while I was training. In this way I felt I could give back the expertise and knowledge that I had learnt.

My role is the first of its kind in Look Ahead and is part of the organisations response to the Care Leavers strategy and the most up to date approaches in the complex needs sector.

As well as my new role, I recently completed a certified ILM course “Giving Briefings and Presentations” so that I can continue to share my knowledge around with the wider organisation.