Farah's story

Referrals Manager

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I graduated from university in 2009 with a degree in banking and finance. At that time, the finance industry was hugely competitive and searching for jobs was quite difficult. I applied for many positions, but nothing really stood out and I wasn’t sure if it was really for me.

I knew that I wanted to do a job where I could make a difference, and eventually I came across a graduate role for a Support Worker at Look Ahead. I had an interview and was really impressed with the people I met there. It felt right, so when I was offered the position in March 2010 I was quick to accept it.

In my time at Look Ahead since then, I have worked in many of our mental health services across London. I have worked with so many colleagues and customers and have experienced so much. With all of the different managers I have worked with here, I have always been fully supported and encouraged to develop my skills. I have been put forward for courses with ILM, and had secondments as a Team Leader or Contract Manager at different services to broaden my experiences.

I have also been fully supported on a personal level as well as a professional level. Whenever I’ve needed to make adjustments to my shift pattern for personal or religious reasons, Look Ahead have always been accommodating to that and it’s greatly appreciated.

After experiencing many different roles in Look Ahead services, I wanted to get a wider understanding of how this business works, and gain a more universal perspective rather than just from that of one service. I was given the opportunity to take on a two month secondment as a Business Development Manager in 2018 and through this experience I successfully applied for a permanent role with BD team as a senior BD officer. In January 2019 I started a new role as Referrals Manager responsible for supporting the organic growth of our SPOT purchase LD & MH services. Based at our Head Office, I’ve been able to build personal relationships with commissioners and oversee referrals at Look Ahead, using my experiences at services, I’ve also been able to help with bid writing and case studies for service tenders, which is something I really enjoy.

“It’s one thing putting a roof over someone’s head, but giving access to proper support is where you can make real change”

Before the UK went into lockdown, I was asked to help with supporting front line services due staffing shortages. I initially supported two services in West London and in May I was approached to help manage one of our temporary emergency accommodation services for rough sleepers. The services are run in partnership with the Greater London Authority and agency workers, and it was an exciting opportunity for me to apply my experience to something new. It’s been an amazing thing to be a part of, and my colleagues and partners have been incredibly supportive. The service has been able to identify underlying needs in customers that may not have been discovered without us, so it’s great to see these positive outcomes. It’s one thing putting a roof over someone’s head, but giving access to proper support is where you can make real change.

I’m coming up for ten years at Look Ahead, but sometimes it only feels like yesterday when I joined! I’ve experienced so much here and I still want to develop. I’m excited to see what the future holds.

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