From Adversary to Advocate


In 2012, the NHS was undergoing huge organisational change. The former Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) were facing abolition as the Government brought in Clinical Commissioning Groups to take over the commissioning of services across the NHS.


In Devon, three former PCTs were brought together under a single board while the structure of the new CCGs was decided. It was a time of huge uncertainty for staff, who were unsure if they would have a job in the new structure or what their job would be. There was a culture of confusion, uncertainty and animosity.


Against this backdrop, InterBe was appointed to deliver a training programme called High Performance Coaching for Change. The aim was to provide a support structure for staff, to inspire them to see the opportunities that the new organisation would bring and to train a group of them to coach their colleagues through this time of huge change. This is Emily’s story…

Before I started this journey, I survived. My life held little value to me. Now, I am approaching my life from a place of love rather than fear and this has made a powerful difference to me. The “musts” and the “shoulds” that used to dominate my life were born of fear. Now, I choose. I am inspired and my life shows up completely differently as a result. I recognise that there is nothing wrong, nothing I need to fix and that I am the author of my own experience.”

“I was asked to go on the High Performance Coaching for Change programme by my, then, line manager,” explained Emily Faircloth, Commissioning Manager for Northern Eastern and Western Devon CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group).


“At first she invited me to go and then, when I didn’t sign up, came a strong recommendation.  I can recall the first day of the programme very clearly. It was like nothing I’d experienced before and I made up my mind that I wasn’t impressed. I remember listening to Mo talking and thinking “I haven’t got a clue what he’s talking about”. In fact, I started to wonder if I was in the wrong room. The programme was delivered in a way that I had never experienced before – it seemed unstructured and all of the concepts that Mo was presenting were alien to me. At the end of day one, I said to my colleague “I’m coming along to one more of these but if it’s no better, I’m off.”


At this time in her life, it was not just work pressures that were proving tough for Emily. “I really didn’t want to live in the way I was living. Many of my close relationships weren’t working, work and home life was difficult, I wasn’t convinced about the difference that I was making for other people and, for many years, I had carried around issues about my relationship with my father, who died when I was a baby.”



Despite her early misgivings about the programme, by the second session, Emily started to recognise that it offered her a unique opportunity to make a real difference to her life. “I don’t know what it was, but something resonated with me. I think it may have been Simon talking about what risks we’d be prepared to take in our lives (our “Up-fors”)and what might be at stake if we did. This felt like a challenge that I might be prepared to take on.“


Emily Faircloth

Emily volunteered to lead a buddy group, which gave her the opportunity to have one-to-one coaching with Simon Daly from InterBe. “The first coaching session was extraordinary. I wrote a list of all the problems I was facing in my life, handed it over to Simon and said something along the lines of “fix that then”.  He didn’t respond in the way that I expected him to. I thought he might say “this is terrible” or “poor you” but he didn’t. Within half an hour, I felt that I could trust him completely. For me, that was a huge thing as my background was one of mistrusting people.”



Simon set Emily a series of tasks including writing a number of letters to her dead father. “The first letter was full of anger and hurt. I saw myself as a victim and the letter was all about blaming him for not being there to protect me during my life. I talked about how much better my life would have been if he had lived. The second letter was completely different, though. It came from a place of love and forgiveness, for both him and myself. This process was surprising and completely liberating.”


A breakthrough occurred for Emily in opening up the Pandora’s Box of hidden beliefs about herself that she carried around in her head. “It was always there and I’d kept the lid firmly on it for the whole of my life. But, the course and the coaching made me take the lid off and confront what was inside. I discovered that it was just a load of made-up stories that I had about myself. None of it was real; I’d invented these stories.”


In the past, Emily’s way of dealing with the pain of her disempowering beliefs about herself had been to ask “an expert” (a counsellor or psychotherapist) to fix it, or to take antidepressants to mask it. “Avoidance became the norm and I’d become practiced at numbing discomfort and painful emotions. Narrative Transformation was an entirely new approach for me. In our coaching sessions, Simon was the catalyst but, actually, the person making the changes was me. He kept on reminding me that I could choose to access a life I loved and his role through inquiry powerfully broke down the defensive barriers I’d built to protect myself from others and consistently guided me ‘back to north’; a place of balance, integrity, vulnerability and enlightenment. It was incredibly empowering and completely transformational.”


Emily describes InterBe’s training and coaching as “life-changing.”


“Before I started this journey, I survived. My life held little value to me. Now, I am approaching my life from a place of love rather than fear and this has made a powerful difference to me. The “musts” and the “shoulds” that used to dominate my life were born of fear. Now, I choose. I am inspired and my life shows up completely differently as a result. I recognise that there is nothing wrong, nothing I need to fix and that I am the author of my own experience.”


Emily has transformed her relationships with her family, friends, colleagues



Within the workplace, she is more empowered and proactive, which is helping her to deliver groundbreaking projects that are unlike anything the CCG has done before. “One project this year was delivered on my vision to get individuals with eczema and psoriasis together so they could talk, share experiences and feel part of a supportive community. My ambition was a shift in focus from suffering with these conditions to living with them.”


Emily formed a project team and they spent quite a long time getting to know one another and building a strong vision.  Through collaboration with other organisations the team were able to deliver the event at no additional to an already economically challenged CCG and the project as a commissioning approach represents significant savings to the local health economy and empower people with these conditions to manage their own conditions, negating the need for multiple trips to their GP or Consultant.


“Having let go of my need to micro-manage everything, I had no idea how many people would turn up to the event after sending out the invitations. We were delighted that 60 people attended from all over Plymouth and the feedback we got was amazing. One person said she had learned more in 10 minutes here than she had in living with the condition for 10 years. In the future, we hope to be able to offer all people with long-term skin conditions the opportunity to join a support group like this. (see above)


Since completing the High Performance Coaching for Change programme, Emily has gone on to take other InterBe training programmes and is now coached frequently. “I have been coaching colleagues within the CCG since 2011. It is impossible to quantify the full impact this has had but I recognise that I have played a part in changing the quality of conversations that go on within the organisation. I frequently find that my spontaneous conversations that take place in the corridor have shifted from gossip to ones that lead to commitment and breakthroughs for staff.”


Other accomplishments have included overcoming performance anxiety to sing live in front of an audience at a wedding, joining a theatre workshop, creating a new home for herself and her daughter and discovering creativity in the place of an industrious need to fix things.



Not only has Emily transformed her personal and work life but she has also transformed her physical appearance. Emily BeforeSince starting the programme with InterBe, she has lost 35lb, completed several half marathons and her skin, as someone who previously suffered with chronic eczema, is now clearer. “I put this down to a fundamental change in who I am being. Every single day is transformed as a result of this work. I have an awareness that how my life occurs is of my own choosing; my reaction to what shows up is a choice rather than being a victim to circumstance.


She concludes: “I’ve finally realised, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. That place that I was striving for, working so hard to get to, the place where I would finally achieve what I had dreamed of; does not exist. Happiness is a choice to be made right now. I always remember that quote from film, The Shawshank Redemption –  “Get busy living or get busy dying”. I’m now busy living, creating and discovering and I am grateful to InterBe for helping me to see how to live in a way that is all about thriving rather than just surviving.”

  • bitstormdesign
    Posted at 09:53h, 22 January Reply

    Great Article!

  • karen Robinson
    Posted at 14:38h, 10 March Reply

    lots of what was said in this article really resonated with me. enjoyed reading it

    • Sali Mustafic
      Posted at 11:41h, 09 February Reply

      Thanks Karen. I appreciate your feedback. Next post coming soon.

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