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Opportunities for social work employers

We’re proud partners of Think Ahead.

Claire Murdoch, NHS National Mental Health Director and Chief Executive of CNWL NHS Foundation Trust

Think Ahead is a charity working in partnership with NHS and Local Authority community mental health services to improve efficiency and outcomes, by strengthening the contribution of social work.

We are currently working with 52 innovative services across England, who host Think Ahead participants for a year’s on-the-job training and then employ them for at least a year as newly qualified social workers.

We want to further expand our network of partners.


Why partner with Think Ahead?

Receive talented new staff

Our recruits learn on-the-job with you for a year, doing direct work with service users under the supervision of an experienced social worker. They then qualify as social workers and fill vacant posts in your service.

  • 23 candidates apply for each place on the programme.
  • Minimum eligibility criteria include a 2:1 degree.
  • We use a three-stage selection process involving social workers and service users.
  • Successful candidates undergo a six-week residential course to ensure readiness for the practice environment.

Retain and upskill your workforce

You appoint an existing staff member to lead each unit of four Think Ahead participants during their training year as their full-time Consultant Social Worker: a great career development opportunity. The participants and the Consultant Social Worker all get our advanced training.

Think Ahead’s training:

  • Enables best practice – with a curriculum based on the latest international evidence.
  • Maximises tools to enable sustainable recovery – focused on social interventions at the individual, family, and community level.
  • Improves effectiveness in mental health settings – covering the full range of mental health problems and related social factors.
  • Prepares staff for Approved Mental Health Professional training.

Transform social work’s contribution to your service

We are currently partnering with 52 services across England to unlock the potential of social work and realise the impact that social interventions can have on service user outcomes.

“Think Ahead has completely reaffirmed the positive impact social work can have on the delivery of specialist mental health services […] the enthusiasm and talent of the participants has raised the profile of social work across the organisation.” – Dr Lynn Prendergast, Associate Director for Social Care in a service partnering with Think Ahead in Essex.

Save on operational costs

For each unit of four participants, you get:

  • Four new social workers with no agency or recruitment fees.
  • £32k unrestricted payment towards the practical costs of the partnership (or £36k for partners in London).
  • Free training providing certified CPD for existing staff.


You can find out more about how partnering with us works in our Invitation to Partner document:

Download our Invitation to Partner document

If you’d like to talk about partnering, we’d love to hear from you:

Get in touch with our programme team