From conference to Companies House, join Stephen King as he takes us on his coach trip…
I first came across recovery coaching when I attended the inaugural conference of the Foundation of Recovery Coaching (FRC), held in London in October 2012. There, people from all over the world gathered, and the presented evidence and debate was enlightening. Here was a model of coaching being applied to addiction recovery.
“I learned that recovery coaching is strength-based. It is a wellness model rather than the illness model I had been so used to working with.”
I left the conference thinking “This is what people need in their recovery, a coach who can work with them, long-term, if necessary”, and fueled with energy, I started researching coaching as a concept. For me, recovery coaching offered a model that spanned various different domains of healthcare challenges, such as mental health, eating and weight challenges, gambling, cancer & chronic pain management, and veterans suffering with PTSD.
Anthony Eldridge-Rogers, Founder and Director of the Foundation of Recovery Coaching International (as it is now), had spoken about a ‘momentum’ building here in the U.K. I contacted him and informed him that I was ‘into’ momentum and what did he need to get this on the move. I arranged, through my contacts, a free training venue with Southwark Drug and Alcohol Action Team and held the first training of the FRC coaches. Now there are FRC coaches spread across the U.K.
It was at this time that I met Leah (now my wife). She was a volunteer at a large drug and alcohol treatment provider in Bedford at that time. I spoke with Leah about recovery coaching and she liked the concept as much as I did. We both undertook the coaching training and in June 2013, we became certified recovery coaches specialising in substance misuse/behaviour addiction.
In March 2014, we had managed to obtain a Morrison’s Supermarket training room at Houghton Regis for free as part of a community initiative they run, in which to hold a multi-agency meeting. We invited a number of people from substance misuse and police & crime commissioning, Public Health England (Eastern Region), representatives from the local treatment provider and community business leaders. Also in attendance was our dear friend Anthony Eldridge-Rogers, who gave a presentation on recovery, recovery orientation, recovery coaching and recovery communities. It was agreed by all in attendance that there was no ‘visible’ long-term recovery community within Bedfordshire.
We informed everyone there of our intention to explore through surveys whether there was a desire from local individuals to have recovery coaching as a compliment to existing service provision. We carried out some surveys in Luton, Dunstable and Bedford during the summer months of 2014 and found that when the concept of recovery coaching was explained, people really welcomed the idea of having a coach, particularly those who had never entered addiction treatment services, one reason being, the stigma and the associated language attached to it.
“We knew in our hearts and mind that coaching as a concept was a powerful tool but we were also aware that we were never going to do it on our own, we needed more coaches! In August 2014, we registered Bedfordshire Recovery & Wellness Coaching as a Community Interest Company with Companies House, giving us legal status.”
We then approached our local M.P. Andrew Selous, who agreed to become the Patron of our C.I.C.
Recovery for Leah and I did not just happen from Monday to Friday 9am-5pm when services were open. It took place of an evening, it happened during the night and it especially happened at weekends… but nothing was open at weekends, that time when people are, in our opinion, at their most vulnerable. We needed to put something in place that was attractive, purposeful and gave people something to do.
We contacted Dunstable Leisure Centre (1 Life) and made an appointment with the Health & Fitness Manager.
The first thing we informed her of was the fact that we did not have had any funding. We explained who we were, what we wanted to do, why we wanted to do it and that the leisure centre was part of our community and what did we need to do together to create something good for people in recovery. They liked our idea so much that we now have a free weekend Gym & Swim Club. People in recovery entering our coaching programme pay a £5 administration fee and can then have free access to both the gymnasium and swimming pool for a period of 6 months. After this period, individuals are offered a non-contract discounted membership to encourage them to maintain their health & fitness.
In October 2014, we signed a 5 year agreement with the FRC, whereby the FRC would provide training for our coaches, together with the on-going support they would need for their continual development. The FRC also provided us with a free website URL within their website (http://recoverycoachingfoundation.co.uk/bedfordshire ). We also became Associate members of the FRC and agreed to promote the organisation in all of our work…..and we are very proud to do so.
We put together a six person Executive Committee (EC) which oversees the running of our company. This is made up of two directors, a representative of the FRC and three members from the recovery community. This ensures that the voices of our members are heard and acted upon at the highest level and that we are always peer-led and driven.
Most of the evidence-base I had seen in respect of recovery coaching had predominately come from America. We needed to produce some ourselves and so we contacted our local university in order to garner research interest in our question,
“What is the impact of Recovery & Wellness Coaching on individuals in recovery and on the local communities in which they live?” We are now in dialogue with the Head of Psychiatry at the university about developing our research project.”
Working with people in recovery does present risks and we needed to have policies and protocols in place to eliminate those risks .We now have a company handbook detailing these and an Introduction to Recovery & Wellness Coaching, Constitution, Qualifications of Staff, Training of Recovery & Wellness Coaches, Code of Ethical Conduct, Information Governance, Confidentiality, Health & Safety, Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults, Equal Opportunities, Financial Management & Control, Referral Protocol, Outcome Monitoring Framework, Volunteer Policy and Induction Checklist, Disciplinary Policy & Procedure, Grievance Procedure and of course the Gym & Swim Club. We feel we are getting there!
I mentioned earlier we were never going to do it on our own, and we needed more professionally trained and certified coaches. The FRC notified us that there was going to be FRC training beginning in March 2015, and that our company could have some ring-fenced seats to assist in our company development. Members of our Executive signed up, as did some ordinary members. The training took place at Goldsmiths University over two weekends. We were on our way!
The training is inter-active, and is an eye-opener as to people’s perception of recovery. I was asked recently to describe the training and it went like this;
“It’s a bit like Christmas really, when the lights get switched on, that excitement, an awakening, it’s starting to happen feeling”. We spent time training within the ‘Perspectives Wheel’. I watched people learn how to support someone from ” I can’t ” to ” I can “, from ” Impossible ” to ” I’m possible “, from “I’ve never looked at it like that “ to ” I see”.
“For me, and for many others, coaching is a wonderful, powerful tool to use to support someone achieve recovery and wellness.”
Our coaches will complete their training soon and that will increase capacity for us.
The FRC International is looking at the possibility of providing some more training towards the end of June this year and we are looking forward to more members of our local communities getting involved and becoming certified coaches and working with us to build a ‘visible’ and vibrant recovery community here in Bedfordshire and beyond.
The FRC International are holding their Annual Conference in London this year on September 29th and 30th, and it will also be available via virtual conferencing. There will be a Gala Dinner Fundraiser on the eve of the conference, with the proceeds going towards our company to help and support our development.
Finally, a massive thank you, to Anthony Eldridge-Rogers for his continued support.
For more information about FRC in the UK see:
For FRC International see
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