Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Coaching in practice

Andy Hopkinson 30th January 2019

Sally Brown is a coach based in Bedfordshire, who is working with our Believe & Achieve Programme to support young people fighting back from meningitis

Believe & Achieve Sally Brown coaching blog

Here we reproduce her article from Coaching Today, a print publication that goes out quarterly to around 1,000 members of BACP Coaching – a mixture of counsellors, psychotherapists and coaches – about her work with the programme.

Experiencing a serious illness like meningitis at a young age can have a lasting effect on confidence and sense of identity. As well as ongoing physical challenges, including disability, concentration problems or fatigue, those who have overcome meningitis often find their career choices affected by gaps in education. They may also feel socially impacted by time spent away from friendship groups.

Leading charity Meningitis Now has launched a coaching programme to address these challenges.

Six sessions of coaching are available for anyone aged 14-25 who has been impacted by meningitis, whether physically, psychologically or both. The programme is also available to those who have been affected by someone close to them going through the disease.

Help with building confidence

“We have offered counselling for several years to help people come to terms with their experience, but we realised that many young people also need help with building confidence and gaining a sense of direction after being affected by meningitis,” says Laura Williams, Believe & Achieve Programme Officer.

“This is particularly true in regard to career or further education.”

The coaching programme is part of the charity's BIG Lottery-funded Believe & Achieve Programme that also offers residential weekend workshops aimed at building confidence and self-esteem.

Room for growth

So far, five coaches have been recruited to work on a freelance basis throughout the UK, either face to face or remotely, but there is room for growth to match demand.

“We launched Believe & Achieve in March 2018, and through one-to-one and group coaching have already seen lives changed and people get closer to their goals,” says Laura.

“We're looking forward to seeing the long-term impact that we know coaching can have and continuing to build a community of young people who can reach their goals.”

Struggled to feel in control

Michelle, 23, from London, who contracted meningococcal septicaemia as a toddler and developed seizures at university, was the first to receive coaching through the programme.

She says, “With the unpredictability of the seizures, I really struggled to feel in control, and needing to take time off university really knocked my confidence and motivation."

“Coaching has made a huge difference to my motivation, outlook and positivity. I've learnt ways to stay connected with myself in order to reflect on my own feelings, wants and needs, and to help me to feel in control.”

As well as being a personal development coach, Sally is also a BACP registered psychotherapist, freelance journalist and Executive Specialist for Communication on the BACP Coaching board.

This article appeared in the January 2019 issue of Coaching Today, which is published by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy © BACP

Find out more about counselling through the Believe & Achieve Programme.