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October 2021

“The Think Ahead programme was life-changing”

This month, we marked the end of the two-year Think Ahead programme for the 2019 cohort of mental health social workers. We celebrated the milestone with an online event, reflecting on their achievements and celebrating their successes.

Unlike previous years, the event was virtual. Over the last two years, the cohort have had to adapt incredibly quickly to working and supporting one another while rarely being in the same room together.

Speaking at the event our Chief Executive Ella Joseph reflected on the impact of the pandemic on the cohort:

“I just want to say what you’ve achieved and the challenges you’ve overcome has been awesome – in the real sense of the word”.

“What a journey you’ve had. What you’ve done and achieved over the last couple of years is amazing. When you started the programme, we talked about the need to be flexible, but of course we hadn’t predicted just quite the level of flexibility you would need to show over the last couple of years.

“And of course, those challenges have not finished yet. The impact of the pandemic, on your colleagues and on the people you’re working with is still very real. We know you and the people around you are exhausted.


A life-changing experience

One of the 2019 trainees, Juanita Peters, reflected on the last two years and what it meant to her and her peers.

“Covid made it hard, but we got through it. We can now get through anything that comes our way.

“For me, the Think Ahead programme was life changing. I was in a job where I didn’t feel fulfilled and wasn’t being intellectually stimulated. I didn’t even think I’d get back the Think Ahead application but look at where we are today. You guys made it the best two years ever, it was hard, but we did it together.”

At Think Ahead, we commit to teaching and supporting our trainees every year to be able to make a real difference quickly and effectively. We encourage the trainees to think about their long-term careers, and how they can continue to use their compassion and skills to make a difference beyond the two-year programme.


Looking ahead

Edd Carter, director of the social work programme at Middlesex University looked to the cohort’s future.

“You’re now going into the next phase of your career, going into your second full year of practice and there will be newly qualified social workers joining your organisations who will look to you as the experts.

“With a career in social work the learning journey is never complete. My advice is to see this next year as a consolidation year, to work out your many options – into specialist mental health work, or as lead social workers, practice educators, or carving our careers in senior leadership roles. This is so much ahead of you and it’s entirely in your hands”

Each one of the cohort has adapted their practice during the pandemic to continue to support people with mental health problems, helping them flourish, whatever challenges they faced.

We cannot wait to see what our graduates do next.

Applications for our 2022 programme are now open. Find out more and apply today.