Coaching through COVID initiative offering pro-bono Coaching for Key Workers Moves onto next phase

I’m delighted to be involved in the Coaching through Covid (CTC) initiative offering free support to health service frontline workers and others impacted by COVID-19, both through working pro bono as a coach and working with others behind the scenes as part of the core team to manage and shape the scheme.

Our CTC initiative is supported by the Association for Professional Executive Coaching and Supervision (APECS), Coaching at Work, the Academy of Executive Coaching, the UK International Coach Federation (UK ICF), Ashridge Business School, Henley Business School, The Conscious Leader, Visible Dynamics, Lindsay Wittenberg Ltd, Lee Hecht Harrison, the Centre for Coaching, Liz Hall Coaching, and others. Talks with other organisations are also underway.

We’re currently reviewing learning from a five-week pilot at the Royal Free NHS Trust in London, where nearly 50 front-line staff including consultant anaesthetists and intensivists have been working with highly experienced psychologically-minded informed coaches. The programme will be available for as long as there’s a need for it. In preparation for phase 2, hundreds more coaches are waiting in the wings.

Positive feedback

Below is some of the highly positive feedback from coachees on the pilot Coaching through Covid (CTC) programme:

“Just wanted to highly recommend this programme. I’ve just had my 2nd session with my coach and all the misconceptions that I had about coaching have disappeared. I’ve found the programme really helpful so far and it has definitely helped me find order in the chaos!”

“Resilience coaching is priceless in the time of crisis. I am sure you have already thanked the coaches on behalf on ITU but please let them know how grateful we are.”  

“Really important during this crisis”

“Just wanted to say that I feel like I’ve really struck gold with my coach. Had my second session yesterday and felt so much better afterwards. Thank you for everything you are doing”

“And now, I truly think it is the incredible and proactive support we’ve been receiving that is keeping us going through this crisis. Definitely agree that the coaching is really good for identifying signs we need to respond to, which we may otherwise ignore and perhaps could have got through if times were a little different.”

“Having had my second coaching session yesterday, I am amazed by what the programme offers. Pure life changer and I’m so pleased I signed up. Suddenly, I can identify resources already available to me that I can utilise to build resilience.”

Demand is likely to continue growing in the aftermath of the peak as it leaves distress, exhaustion and trauma in its wake.

The ethos of the programme is constantly reinforced in the interactions of the core team, as we endeavour to demonstrate that compassion, psychological safety, and a results focus are compatible.

The desire to be of service trumps all. There are no commercial interests, and all materials are shared generously without any exclusive ownership being claimed.

We are continuing to build a community of professionals who, in addition to being highly professional and experienced, are:

  • Not wedded to one single model and who are able to where appropriate draw on approaches focusing on ‘being’, such as Gestalt, mindfulness, somatics and the like
  • Psychologically-informed, including around working with trauma, distress, and other mental health issues
  • Compassionate
  • In individual supervision but also participating in the reflective group practice sessions
  • Appropriately qualified
  • Able to evidence appropriate credentials, including PCC or MCC, or the equivalent

The Conscious Leader CEO Mark McMordie, who first came up with the idea for the initiative, and who is leading the project, although he considers himself an enabler more than a traditional leader, said of the coaches employed:

“The coaches we’re looking to deploy might be described as operating at later stages of coaching maturity. In part this is about level of professional accreditation, but it’s also about the psychological depth they bring and their capacity to take a more relational approach.  One of our core values is ‘do no harm’ so we have clear professional boundaries in working alongside chaplains, for example, and having clear referral routes where necessary. In addition we’re offering regular reflective practice groups to complement personal supervision, trauma awareness sessions and other CPD drawing on specialists in wellbeing and compassion fatigue.”

Benefits for coachees

Our aim in the Coaching through Covid initiative in offering key workers the opportunity to partner with a coach is to offer help in all or any of the following areas (whichever are appropriate for coachee participants) supporting people to:

  • Offload and make sense of what’s going on, offering a skilled listening ear
  • Manage stress and build resilience, drawing on evidence-based approaches such as mindfulness
  • Be with and work with emotions which are arising for so many of us in the NHS, including fear, guilt, shame, anger – all normal but not easy
  • Get better at navigating turbulence and change
  • Foster healthy relationships, building trust and collaboration, and reducing conflict
  • Lead with compassion and agility
  • Make tough decisions in these challenging time
  • Prioritise what to attend to

Other not-for-profit initiatives offering free coaching to healthcare workers include Positivity Coaching’s in Greece, Ireland’s Connect a Coach, Association for Coaching Spain’s, and in the UK,schemes including Coaching through Covid (CTC)  Meyler Campbell’s , and Project5, the idea of clinical psychologist Dr Craig Newman.


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