Grant helps Citizen Coaching launch new ‘Citizen Navigator’ service

Birmingham-based counselling service and social enterprise Citizen Coaching is using a grant of £50,000 from the Social Enterprise Support Fund (via the Key Fund) to help launch a new service, Citizen Navigator. This new service is designed to signpost clients to other essential support, such as housing, benefits, debt advice and other local wellbeing services that will help reduce the additional causes of anxiety, depression or other disorders.

“We came up with the idea of Citizen Navigator,” says Martin Hogg, Citizen Coaching’s founder and MD, “because many people who come to us for counselling are experiencing other fundamental problems in life — and these often get in the way of the counselling.” During and post-pandemic there has been a rise in complex mental health cases, often combined with other life issues, meaning that some clients need more sessions. This has strained services across the country and resulted in waiting lists. Citizen Coaching currently delivers contracts for the NHS, local colleges and private companies, supporting over 4,000 people a year. Three-quarters of the clients it helps are aged 14 to 24.

This additional funding has enabled the new Citizen Navigator programme to be launched with psychotherapist Katie Hitchinson in a full-time role of Citizen Navigator. Katie is a specialist in social prescribing — identifying non-clinical support and services that can be brought together in a network of community-based support to which individuals can be referred — and has previously worked for a number of charities.

Katie Hitchinson, Citizen Coaching’s new, full-time ‘Citizen Navigator’

“My skills and passion for social prescribing feed into this new role,” Katie Hitchinson says, “and I am currently building relationships with charities, social enterprises, statutory and voluntary groups as part of the Citizen Navigator service. It’s important when we’re signposting vulnerable individuals who haven’t reached out previously that they have a positive experience.”

Citizen Coaching hopes that this this ‘super local network’ of community-based providers will eventually number 70 or more and believes it may also offer a way to help rebuild local networks after Covid. 

Martin Hogg is especially concerned about young people who are at present not engaging with support or counselling. “Recent figures show that there are 100,000 ‘ghost children’ in the UK — young people who haven’t returned to school post-lockdowns and have disappeared off the radar. We’re also seeing a loss of hope and a big increase in self-harm and disordered eating in those as young as 11.”

These concerns are mirrored by NHS leaders who this week urged government to tackle the huge rise in depression, anxiety, psychosis and eating disorders since Covid hit, warning that millions in England face a ‘second pandemic’ of mental health issues. There has been a 72% increase in children and teenagers referred for urgent support for eating disorders in one year.

For more information about Citizen Coaching and its new Citizen Navigator service send mail to Martin Hogg.

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