The value of a good life-coach

Sun 15 – Sat 21 May 2016

Why do I have a life-coach?

When I was diagnosed HIV positive over nine years ago, one of the services given to help me cope was a number of sessions with an approved life-coach; someone used to supporting people dealing with chronic life-long illness and disability. My life-coach is Kerr and the regular interventions helped steady me in what was a difficult and overwhelming time particularly moving onto medication and coming on the back of my period of depression. The sessions were funded via the NHS but when the set number was up, I decided to keep on seeing Kerr as my life-coach, paying him privately.

Life-coachNot all life-coaches are good and it’s a case of finding one that works for you. They don’t work for everyone. But for me Kerr, as a life-coach I can reflect and plan with, has been far more useful than any counselling I have ever done. I have said before, counselling feels like going over old ground again and again without making progress. Plus I am not dependent on my life-coach (as some people are on their counsellor) rather he is a strategic intervention I use every 3-4 months.

What came out of Monday’s session?

Last Monday saw Kerr for an hour, first time since February and a number of key learning points came out of it including:

  1. Kerr reinforced to me that I had made a great achievement in being clear what I wanted out of the recent work restructuring and successfully fighting for it. He pointed out I should celebrate and be proud of achieving this.
  2. We went over how my partner has the option to retire in 18 months so I need to start thinking now about how that fits with me and how both our lives could change if that happens.
  3. I am working a half day less as a result of the restructuring so I need to set aside a specific half day for learning & development to make sure make I get the most out of my extra non-work time. Fri mornings will be my learning and development time. There was also a good follow-up suggestion from my job-sharer Nissa about finding a separate physical space to do it in.
  4. Food has been a life-long problem for me. I enjoy eating and until I learn or appreciate a new way of enjoying my food and eating then I ain’t going to lose weight.

My first learning and development half day

This kicked off on the Friday morning just gone. Wasn’t really a half day as I had to be in the office by 11. But I used the time before to sit in Pret and abuse their free wi-fi particularly using DuoLingo to improve my French, German and Spanish language skills. This will happen on the next L+D half day and hopefully I will also be doing more with Code Academy around learning to code better.

Health and Efficiency

No gym on Sunday but did achieve three sessions last week

Golden TicketNo gym on Sunday morning as usual because me and Dave were coming back from Birmingham. We used our Willy Wonka type Golden Ticket given to me because Chiltern Railwyas couldn’t provide the actual tickets I had bought (see previous blog). So we were able to take a train at anytime. We left on the 8.25 as we were both up early after no late night out on Saturday (I was up till 11.30 watching the crap Eurovision result). I thought the train would be empty but it was packed full of Aston Villa fans going to their last match of the season. However it was also their last match in the Premiership so they were a very subdued crowd.

But good fitness achievement, I managed to get to the gym three times last week – on Monday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. Holistic all-body workouts each day and I could really feel my muscles working at certain points. I do love going to my gym especially mid-morning as it is quiet after breakfast and before lunch. Indeed often it is just me and another regular there called River. I think I would be bereft if I stopped going to the gym, interesting that I was seriously considering this option a few months ago. But also important to realise nothing lasts forever and not to get complacent or stop thinking how things may pan out in the future.


BloodHospital on Wed afternoon to get bloods done for my annual HIV consultant check-in. The nurse was very good and got the samples first time. I didn’t tell her till afterwards that I passed out last time (and the only ever time that has happened) because they messed it up and it took three attempts to get it right. I love the NHS and it worries me the way right wingers in the Conservative party and UKIP seek to undermine it (scary how many leading Brexiters have spoken disparagingly of the NHS in the past…). But it is not beyond criticism and someone hit the nail on the head when they said that the NHS is a series of queues (albeit ones where you don’t have to pay at the end as in the USA).


13-12 so another pound up. I really do have to revise how I relate to food if I am ever to seriously lose weight – enjoying being hungry at points, learning to love fruit and vegetables, and increasingly eating a lot less fat and sugar plus not too many carbohydrates.

Friends and Mum

Jamie and Philip

Caught up with two brilliant mates (three if I include Dom Ruffy – see below). Coffee with Jamie on Monday. We mainly use our time together to check in on holidays that have happened or are coming up. So often life does feel like simply looking forward to the next break.

Also had some good email correspondence with my former work colleague Philip (never call him Phil or he will bite your head off) who now lives near Malaga. He is doing well and I am planning to stay with him in Sept/Oct. There is an issue coming up that I will have to care of mum after her knee op. But we have no idea exactly when that will be and I can’t put my life on hold for the next six months. I will liaise with my brother about mum’s care for the periods when I am going to be away.


Stayed with mum three nights last week and helped her with the laundry on Friday morning. She went up to the hospital for her Pre-Op Assessment clinic and MRI scan (on two separate days). She has also got to attend a group for people who are going to have knee ops. Likely to happen in approximately three months’ time though nothing guaranteed.


Tech for Good and Abstinence Based Recovery

recoveryTuesday I was back in Birmingham to attend the wrap-up event for the five Tech for Good / Abstinence Based Recovery projects that each received a £5,000 grant. Indeed, back to Recovery Central again after their launch on the previous Friday. The grants were given to progress work that had been identified at the digital exploration day we ran in November. At that we brought together service organisations (including people in recovery) and digital agencies. Important to note that these service providers probably wouldn’t have considered a digital route for service delivery without this day and we created relationships that did not already exist nor would have happened.

The projects all gave feedback on what they had done. A fascinating mix with one pretty amazing app that really could be developed further. Also organisations doing overviews of the whole way they use digital, ideas around supporting addicts as well as their friends and families, a story app to guide people through a lifetime of fighting addiction, better websites, and ideas around creating a better profile for the culture of recovery. And good to use Skype to bring in one project from Scotland who were unable to travel to the day. It became apparent to most participants how we can see digital as an ally rather than a scary threat with it helping us to do and reach more without compromising what we offer and without more resources.

Dom Ruffy

Had a catch-up lunch with Dom Ruffy from Amy Winehouse Foundation on Friday. Dom is a friend and a colleague. We met to explore possible options for fundraising and working together as well as consider how things are going generally in the Abstinence Based Recovery world. Our Give It Up fund ends in autumn with all the money spent, would be great to carry on doing something similar to tackle addictions

Catching up with Nissa and exploring International Tech for Good

Nice journey back with Nissa from Birmingham, catching up on job share stuff especially our new UK Tech for Good programme planned for Sept. Next day we also had a catch-up with our colleague Teresa in the International Grants team and are continuing to develop our nascent idea for an International Tech for Good programme in 2017.

Getting more funders interested in Tech for Good

Me and Nissa also had a meeting with another funder (identity top secret at this current moment) to help them explore the digital work they already do and how they would like to expand around Tech for Good. Possibility we could work together for our next UK Tech for Good programme. So exciting that more funders are interested in funding Tech for Good thus creating resources and incentives for charities to do digital as well as general possibilities of greater co-operation by funders.

Huffington Post

Keep an eye on Huffington Post, looks like my blog on Tech for Good will be appearing next week.

Books and Reading

salem's lotMain reading book over the last week has been Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot I fancied a nice bit of horror and I’ve never read this book. Written in 1975 and, for its time, radically putting vampirism into a quiet everyday New England setting. I remember as a kid watching the TV version of it with David Soul. This scared the shit out of me. It is a wonderfully written book and snatches of the TV drama keep coming back to me.

sensoritesA couple of Dr Who audio books listened to. First The Sensorites, an adventure from BBC Audio – the TV episode happened in the mid-sixties. It’s a story with a lot of silences but transfers pretty well to audio. A fun, old-fasioned tale very much focused on when it was created – wonderful when one of the alien talks about there being a ‘snag’ and someone else writes a note but the ink on it gets smudged so causing misunderstanding.

Davros The second one was never made for TV rather  being produced only as an audio book for Big Finish. Davros features the sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) without a companion and an adventure with the brilliant creater of the Daleks. The story is old-fashioned in a similar way to The Sensorites featuring a galactic stock exchange as well as journalists looking for exposes against big corporations. Most fun when it harks back to Davros’ background and the ordinary Kaled who became an evil genius.

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