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Supporting a peer coaching culture at Recycling Lives

Caitlin on site at Recycling Lives -
Caitlin has been supporting the Leadership team to create a sustainable Peer Coaching Culture.

We have recently been working with an exceptional organisation in the North West called Recycling Lives, who use their commercial operations in recycling and waste management to support and sustain charity programmes, creating significant social as well as environmental and financial value.

Recycling Lives provides an active programme for the homeless, enabling them to find stability, mental and physical health and to find independence and work. They also have training programmes and work programmes in prisons providing strong training in recycling and waste management and supporting ex-prisoners to find sustainable work when they’ve completed their sentences.

A remarkable aspect of this organisation is how open and supportive everyone is and how naturally they coach and mentor one another. As the organisation is expanding, they are keen to ensure that there are enough people naturally taking a coaching and mentoring position to support the network of staff to stay well physically and mentally. They approached us looking for a partner organisation with expertise and proven track record in offering interventions that develop a coaching and mentoring culture across the workforce.

We designed a clean, invitation-based programme, with taster sessions and an invite to a first wave of people wanting to develop their coaching and mentoring skills. We had a great turn-out and show-cased Clean Language tools and models to over 40 participants. Together with senior management we chose 13 of the volunteers as good representatives of a cross-organisation slice.

Before the training started we conducted Clean Language interviews with everyone to find out more about their current situations at work and at home and what they were hoping to get from attending the training.

During the 10 two-hour workshops in 2018, we covered:

  • Invisible architecture: What is driving your patterns (your own and others)?
  • Listening: Actually listening and hearing the structure of what is being said
  • Asking the clean questions
  • Developing metaphors as co-coaching tools
  • Knowing your stuff and knowing how to tell if your “buttons are being pressed”
  • Detecting drama and how to move to calmer conversations
  • Facilitating people to move from problem to outcome to action

Following the training we interviewed the participants again, asking them what the programme had been like and what differences they had noticed at home and at work.

We are now writing up a detailed evaluation of the programme to help Recycling Lives directors fund further expansion. Here are some quotes from the post-training interviews:

  • “It has helped me to make the leap from not knowing anything to communicating with lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds”
  • “It is now easier to get people to work out how they want to handle a situation. Clean Language helps people to be honest about their problem and think about how to solve it”.
  • “The Drama Triangle has helped with my home life… I’ve learned with family and friends to step away”
  • “I realised I am surrounded by drama. It made me change the way I process information. Rather than always being the rescuer, I step back.” 
  • “The Drama Triangle was useful to me personally. The awareness helps me step back and think about how I could manage things better.”
  • “Rather than too much information at once, you can break it down and understand it more than normal conversations.”
  • “People come with money problems. In the past we gave them an advance. Now we get to the root of the problems and get more sustainable long-term solutions to issues.”
  • “It’s made me look at my own life, the way I do things, issues I didn’t know were issues.”
  • “The course gave me the vocabulary to express my struggle to someone else in a way they could understand it.”
  • “It made me really calm. I can be a hot-head. Now I sit back, listen, take everything in. It unfolds in my head. I think before I speak. I understand people better. There are less arguments and I don’t boss my partner around any more.”
  • “I have seen a big difference in [my colleague] letting the lads come up with their own ideas rather than telling them what to do,”
  • “People get along better… I feel now people are more comfortable to talk about things. Before, people were scared… Now they have someone to go to who’s not going to land them in it.”
  • “She put across her point of view and then I explained it to him… When she was out she answered her phone, told us where she was and got back on time… Everyone was a winner.”

The group is now more:

  • Self-aware and able to advocate for their own needs to stay well
  • Able to manage difficulties in their own lives (e.g. conflict resolution, family issues, debt)
  • Aware of others’ needs and able to listen and support others to find their own solutions
  • Able to notice when others are in drama and facilitate them out of drama without joining them

We’re delighted to be working with an organisation that saves public money, saves waste products and has a 93% none recidivism rate helping our fellow citizens to fulfill their potential and not be limited by past experiences.

If you are interested in having Clean Learning come and work with your organisation on a similar project, please get in touch.


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About Caitlin Walker

Caitlin Walker's avatar

Caitlin is a director of Clean Learning and the developer of Systemic Modelling™. She is the author of From Contempt to Curiosity, which details many of the innovative and transformational projects she’s led across our community from the most dispossessed to leading think tanks.

Caitlin graduated in Linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies and completed four years post graduate research in ‘Strategies for Lexical access’ including fieldwork in Ghana. She began modelling teaching and learning while at SOAS, volunteering intermediary classes to translate information presented at lectures into different learning styles for the students. At the same time she was a youth worker in Kings Cross bringing these leading edge tools to groups of young people.

She went on to set up literacy clubs in King’s Cross, where children could come to learn to spell. From 1996 – 1999 Caitlin was an Education tutor with the Dalston Youth Project, a Home Office run experiment to offer accelerated learning to at-risk students, alongside mentoring, to keep them in school. She ran these sessions as NLP modelling workshops and achieved excellent results with the students. The project won a Crime Prevention and Community Safety award for Great Britain. In 1999 she was offered the opportunity to develop her work in a business context and she created the ground breaking metaphors@work process. These techniques are available on the Creative Management section of the Open University MBA program and on a 10 week modular course on Practical Thinking. She has co-designed and she co-delivers a Masters Level module in Coaching and Mentoring at Liverpool John Moores University.

She has since developed her modelling skills from small scale group development to whole scale organisational culture change programmes. She designs and delivers tailor made learning and development programs for addressing diversity, conflict, leadership, managing mergers and creating ‘learning organisations’.

Caitlin practices in a variety of contexts. Clients include: Jeyes Group, Liverpool John Moores University, Pharmacia, Hull City Council, South Yorkshire Police Service, Bexley Care Trust, New Information Paradigms, Work Directions UK, Crime Concern, BT, Police National Search Centre, Celerent Consultancy, Carbon Partners, Ealing LEA, and Working Links. She has trained a number of in-house trainers to carry on and develop the work without creating dependency on her expertise. She has systematically tested and developed her ideas in challenging arenas and her robust products have become sought after learning aids.


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