Nothing right without a fight

I’ve lost track over the years, of how many people have slammed the way our system works. That’s not an exaggeration, and it isn’t limited to one group of people. One of the overarching feelings from people at all levels is frustration – exasperation. How have we been doing these things for so long, without being able to change it?

That’s not to say there haven’t been amazing things, especially in Wales. Our move towards approaches like Housing First, for example, have started to break the link between supporting people when they need it, and the need for them to meet some imposed criteria. Or our approach in Wales to trauma-informed approaches, and the impact of adverse childhood experiences – that is, to change all of our systems and services so they are aware of trauma but work flexibly for everyone rather than counting people’s traumas.

But if we are honest, it isn’t enough.

There are thousands of skilled, passionate, amazing people throughout Wales working hard to make changes for people going through tough times. And yet something gets in the way. That something is the system.

That means decisions made because that’s the way something has always been done, or choices taken out of fear of risk, or people adding in an element of punishment or coercion to our work. Because of all that, people still get let down. We still end up dismissing people as “too complex”, or claim they have “failed to engage”.

This is the journey Platfform is on right now. We have joined up with the New System Alliance, to drive forward one way of making changes to our system – adopting the Mayday Trust way of working. As I often say, it isn’t the only alternative, but it is one way.

We’ve already adopted the person-led, transitional, strengths-based coaching (PTS), the Mayday approach, in Platfform, with eight coaches forming a close-knit team aiming to completely change our approach to working with people. It has been a challenge, definitely, but it has already helped us to identify and isolate areas where we need to be so much better as an organisation.


PTS coaches are recruited to be activists, to challenge us internally, to advocate powerfully and passionately for the people they work with, and to be listening to the people they work with for any barriers that our system is putting in their way.

These coaches are working with people in a different way, helping them explore goals however small, to help people reconnect with their strengths, rebuild (or build new!) relationships, and through that, give people the resources (assets) to move on in their lives.

These coaches have an exciting role at the forefront of the change we want to make in the system, and I am really pleased that we have two roles at Platfform at the moment – one is a maternity cover for our PTS Coach in Torfaen, and the other is a new PTS coach role in Blaenau Gwent. If you want to be part of our fellowship, have a look at these roles and put in an application.

What is different about these roles, is we want anyone who cares, who is compassionate and passionate about working with people in a different way.

We want someone who wants to make a difference, not necessarily someone with years of experience in support work. We want someone who is willing to say they’re wrong about things and learn, rather than someone who thinks they have all the answers. We want someone who is happy to speak their mind on behalf of other people, but who is also happy to stay quiet when the person they’re working with wants to talk. We want someone who is skilled when they work with people, and who wants to be a human being in a broken system.

We’ve also got a different type of role for the right person – a New System Alliance Coordinator. This person would work very closely with me as we bring the ideas and messages from the New System Alliance to Wales. It’s an exciting opportunity, because Wales is on the cusp of big changes, after years of work to better understand prevention, harm reduction, and trauma informed practice. We have a fertile ground here in Wales for a new and different way of working, and I can’t wait to have someone to work on it with.

Above all, all roles here are about being willing to fight. Not necessarily in an aggressive, combative way, but to take a stand against the system in all its immovable power. For me, seeing the power we give to people, and trusting our PTS coaches to take risks, and work in a different way whilst making changes to systems that will benefit everyone, means the world.

Join us as we work – alongside anyone who wants to – to smash our systems, and release people to be more human. That could be the biggest revolution of them all.