Brandon Centre wins funds for ‘BWell’ coaching pilot

We’re thrilled that our bid to the National Lottery Community Fund – Reaching Communities England programme has successfully secured £197,400 in funding over two years, for Brandon Centre to run our new ‘BWell’ coaching pilot.

The Reaching Communities programme offers funds for organisations that work with their community to help them thrive. One of the aims of the fund is to ‘help more young people reach their potential by supporting them at the earliest possible stage’ which is exactly what our ‘BWell’ pilot hopes to achieve.

‘BWell’ will use a coaching model to help young people self-manage their wellbeing. It will run alongside our existing psychotherapy, counselling and sexual health services as an early access intervention to help young people get support at the first sign of issues impacting their wellbeing.

This is an important step for us at Brandon Centre as we continue to see increasing numbers of high-risk young people with unsupported mental health needs.

Unfortunately, long waiting times mean many of them can’t access the support they need for months and many of them get pulled into negative circles which further entrench their problems.

Sadly 76% of parents say that their children’s mental health deteriorated while waiting for support.*

Our ‘BWell’ coaching service aims to tackle this problem with a preventative wellbeing model available to those young people most at risk of becoming lost between the support already widely available in the community, and the high thresholds in place for statutory support.

“The crucial factor of our pilot will be the rapid access to trained coaching support alongside the development of a peer support community,” says Julia Brown, Brandon Centre CEO and professional Coach. “As our Young Ambassadors have said ‘There’s a different energy’ to this support.”

“It’s not our intention to take people away from counselling, however rather to provide and test a different intervention that will encourage early presentation,” says Julia. “By encouraging vulnerable young people to seek early coaching support we can make sure they are signposted to the best service, which in turn will mean fewer young people end up in crisis and long-term counselling.”

“Our model not only seeks to prevent mental ill-health and poor wellbeing, but it will ‘hold’ those young people already on our waiting lists in a more safe and resilient space, giving them access to a strong and positive community of professionals and peers.”

Wellbeing coaching helps people set and achieve their own goals, using health coaching techniques with a focus on helping people understand what they want in life and how to take practical steps towards achieving this.

We’re not new to this model of coaching at Brandon Centre. Between April and September 2021, we ran a small coaching programme to local young minority groups, funded by the Camden Youth Foundation.

Anecdotal feedback from the programme is extremely positive, with the young people involved reporting benefits such as better sleep hygiene, improved self-esteem, greater emotional awareness and regulation, and more confidence with communication and interpersonal relationships.

The model is also a good fit with our Brandon Way work and our commitment to involving young people in the co-production and design of our services. We talked to our young people about what a coaching conversation would look like, and the response was resoundingly positive.

They thought it felt empowering. Above all, they want someone to really listen to them, not judge or give instructions, not to try to ‘fix’ the past, but to help facilitate their own thinking and help them find their own solutions.

BWell will be our first major initiative to take this forward combining the successful ‘open door access’ of our sexual health services with the support of our therapeutic mental health expertise, and our young people’s enthusiasm to get involved and provide peer-to-peer support.

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*A new era for young people’s mental health, YoungMinds report.

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