Happi to Help: An Interview With the Founder of the More Happi Coaching Programme

Author : Sam Chambers

7th May 2020

The current moment presents many challenges for people all around the world. Unemployment, financial struggle, social isolation, loss, grief and uncertainty are but a few of the obstacles and feelings that most people are trying to manoeuvre. 

As a transformational coaching school you won’t be surprised to hear that we know just how powerful coaching can be in helping people to reframe thoughts, opinions and perspectives, in turn enabling them to see their current situation in a completely different light. 

What you might be more surprised about (though we aren’t!) is just how pioneering our vibrant community of change-making coaches has been in creating initiatives to offer support to those in need. 

In this Q&A interview piece I sit down with Animas coach-in-training and Founder of the More Happi coaching initiative Ashleigh Tennent to explore where the idea for the programme came from, the mission behind it, the exciting developments that are already happening and how you can get involved and support More Happi on its journey to support those in need.

Sam: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me today Ashleigh. I’d love to hear the story behind how you came upon the More Happi programme.

Ashleigh: "The Idea behind it really came from when I was in training with Animas. There was a need for us all to find practice clients and we were all looking to each other to introduce friends or people that we knew that might need coaching. It made me realise that there are people that could really benefit from this free coaching that aren’t getting it, don’t know it exists or perhaps can’t afford it.

But instead we were coaching each other’s friends and I thought actually wouldn’t it be more powerful if we could put that resource to people in need. That’s where the original concept came from and then when Covid-19 hit, suddenly everyone was in need.

More Happi.Heroes is focused on the NHS, food workers, education, anyone on the frontline that are having to go to work and continue their jobs in this situation. They’re experiencing all sorts of emotions right now. They're feeling overwhelmed and scared, guilty even in some ways. So many emotions! Wouldn't it be amazing if we could put the power of coaching behind them to get them through this?

Since then the idea has developed and we are now expanding the programme to include struggling business owners, those furloughed or made redundant due to the Covid crisis. The programme is called Opportunity and launches with a partnership with over 900 businesses next week. Those going through this are trying to work out how they get their business through this. Do they need to pivot? Is there any opportunity in this that they can see? How do they survive or even come out stronger on the other side? Over 25% of the UK population has either been furloughed or made redundant. I believe that a lot of people could do with some help and support right now."

Can you briefly summarise the mission behind More Happi?

"Our internal mission is to help as many people as possible through this crisis.

Ultimately we’re here to help anyone in this crisis get through these challenging times and emerge stronger."

And how long has the ball been rolling with More Happi?

"Around six weeks ago I came up with the concept, while being coached at an Animas training session. It was just as we were moving into lockdown.

It was actually a life-changing moment.

It was that session that reminded me of the absolute power of coaching and how it can shift so much. I started off that morning feeling flat, and as if I wasn't capable of anything. I was asking myself whether I’d even be able to concentrate for two days in this online space. But to go from that to a feeling of ‘I know what to do and what I need to do to achieve it and how I’m going to get there’ reminded me how powerful coaching can be. I left the training session and called my coach immediately to tell her about this renewed clarity.

I have this incredible coach who is actually the reason I got into coaching in the first place because she coached me when I was 27 and helped me through some really tough experiences. So I got back in touch with her when I decided I wanted to train as a coach, and she’s now been my coach throughout my journey. She’s also coaching me through this More Happi project and she's been brilliant cheering me on and helping me to refocus when I’m not sure which direction to head and what to do next."

Have you found many others who want to give back too? What has the response to the programme been like?

"From a coaching point of view, the Animas community has been amazing. An incredible amount of people that have stepped up and said “I’m here. What do I do to support?” There’s been really phenomenal support, so much so that we actually started to trend on LinkedIn under coaching which was amazing.

We've had over 100 coaches now sign-up. People have been so overwhelmingly generous with their time. Some people are giving 2 hours per week to this. Some people are giving upwards of 14 hours per week of free coaching so that’s been incredible.

From the key worker side we’re trying several different areas, but we’ve had lots of interest so far from education, the NHS and any healthcare workers that need the support.

Then from a business point of view we have just secured a partnership with over 900 businesses."

Ah it’s amazing to have a partnership like that under your belt at this early stage. Is it just you running More Happi?

"Initially yes it was just me, with the support of this amazing coach network. But now we have some incredible advisors, a brand director, and we've also partnered with a wonderful learning and development business called Mastered. They have been massively supportive in helping me to deliver an operational system that's better for the coaches and will enable us to scale up and help more people."

How have you found the experience of getting the ball rolling with a project like this?

"My background is in startups so I've got the experience of taking something relatively small, even just an initial idea, and turning into something bigger and real. I have experience working for companies including WGSN, MOO, Wool and the Gang and Daye. It’s been really busy of course because I have some other work to do as I do consultancy, and I’m also having to home-school a 5-year old at the moment. So that’s been a challenge, but it's fun and when you feel passionate about what you’re doing and why you're doing it and that it’s making a difference. This project has given me focus through these times, and it feels really good to give back and work with so many exceptional coaches."

And do you have any advice for anyone that might be wanting to start an initiative like this?

"I think when a business has a purpose it all falls into place. When you're really clear what you're trying to achieve then every decision can be made easily. Also - just get your minimum valuable product out there, we literally started with a landing page and two typeforms. The initial thinking was ‘a website is needed, a brand is needed etc” but to begin with, none of that was needed. Just put it out there and see what happens, and if it works. From there you can create a site that best serves your purpose and vision because you know why you’re building it, whereas often when you build first you can easily build the wrong thing. You haven't learnt enough yet."

What are some of your goals and milestones for the rest of 2020?

"We have a goal of helping a minimum of 2000 people in the next six months, it may actually be bigger than that but that's just our realistic goal. Though no doubt as soon as we do, I’ll want to make it bigger and move my own goal posts! We are capable of helping thousands of people, and for this support to be ongoing even after the lockdown and pandemic ends."

You seem to have lots of support around you which is no doubt key in managing a project like this. Around this notion of support, I wondered in what ways training with Animas and joining the Animas community has been helpful in creating the More Happi programme?

"It’s been helpful in so many ways. This wouldn't have launched without my experience at Animas, all the coaching sessions within the modules, but also the amazing community around it. For example I’ve got three different Whatsapp groups from different communities, people that I’ve met along the way and they've been incredibly supportive. It's just been amazing, not just this project, but the amount of things that people are achieving through their own coaching journeys within the community is so good to see. The whole experience has been inspiring, and truly transformational."

What are your next steps and how can people get involved in supporting the More Happi programme?

"We're looking for more coaches to join us now. Both coaches that are accredited and want to give back, and what I’m describing as ‘nearly there’ coaches - those that are coming towards the end of their training. They’ll need at least 20 hours of practice under their belt, so they feel like they're at the point now that they’re coaching comfortably.

For More Happi.Opportunity - we’re looking for people with a business background, career, HR, leadership, management or start-up experience."

That’s great Ashleigh. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, and I look forward to following your journey as you take this pioneering initiative forward!

If you want to make a difference in supporting others in need, you can sign up to become a More Happi coach now! 

Do you want to help others and make a difference to the world?

Find out more about becoming a coach on one of our free virtual introductory days

Categories: Social Impact  

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