What is ‘Finding Purpose’ all about?

What is 'Finding Purpose' All About?

The purpose of life is not to be happy at all. It is to be useful, to be honourable. It is to be compassionate. It is to matter, to have it make some difference that you lived – Leo Rosten

By Emma Jaynes

The notion of having a purpose in life has become common parlance in a variety of contexts in the C21st.

I think I first became conscious of it whilst attending certain types of wellbeing groups and networking events.

For many, there seems to be the notion that we have a ‘one true purpose’ that we must constantly seek out and which, upon finding, we will finally be whole and complete.

The main problem with this particular concept of purpose is that it is highly likely that we will never find ‘the one’, in the same way that many fail to find the idealised ‘one’ in a relationship. As with the relationship context, it raises a number of poignant questions right away.

How will you know your one true purpose when you find it? What does it look like? How is it meant to feel? What does it even mean?

In my personal experience, particularly that of the peers I have worked with, this notion of looking for the one purpose, causes a number of challenges.

Firstly, we can spend a lifetime seeking it and never finding it (and many do). This leads to the sense that what we are doing right now is not ‘the purpose’, thus, causing feelings of dissatisfaction with life, as well as inadequacy that we haven’t found our purpose and therefore must have failed at life. In fact, some falter at the starting point, stuck at ‘I haven’t a clue what my purpose is so I will never be happy’

Secondly, there is the sense that a ‘purpose in life’ must be something huge, lifechanging, transformational, and ‘important’. But what is important? Important to whom? Where is the benchmark for importance?

This is superficial important that risks becoming grandiose, often meaning that we miss the fundamental purpose of day to day living which is already right before our eyes.


Thirdly, all of this distracts from actually ‘doing’ anything useful at all. It becomes a procrastination tool that acts. In some cases, as self-sabotage, and in others, from taking responsibility for anything at all, and this is why I love the quote, above, from Leo Rosten (an American humourist, scriptwriter, storywriter, journalist, and Yiddish lexicographer, according to Wikipedia 😉).

It seems to be another common notion, in the West at least, that our ultimate goal in life must be happiness. I don’t mean to be a party pooper but, aside from the fact that happiness is a fleeting, rare, and volatile emotion and one that we can never realistically expect to feel the whole time, this goal is totally the wrong way around. I will come back to this point.

In ALF, we use the DENT model, which is a psychological approach and theory created by myself and Keith Abrahams in Positive Ways. One of the underlying principles of DENT is that, to be healthy and successful, individuals need to be purposeful. In fact, we have also derived the Purposeful health model from this assumption.

So, what does DENT make of purpose?

Well, in a similar vein to Rosten, it is more about the fundamental things in life. It is about being able to wake up each morning and strive to be your best self, to be useful, to look out for others, to be honest and trustworthy. It is about having pride in whatever you are doing in your life, right now. It is about taking responsibility for yourself, your life, your health and those around you who depend on you. Can you imagine anything more purposeful and important than being a good parent, partner, friend, spouse, or member of your community?

For me, it is also about knowing what I stand for, living up to that, and calling out challenges to it, to the best of my ability, even if it is difficult to do so. For me also, making a difference is important – I don’t have to make a difference to the whole world, I can do it in my little corner of the work, whether that is with my family, my friends, my community, my colleagues, or in my work.

At a very basic level, being purposeful is also about simply having something to do. As well as halting the habit of navel gazing, worrying about and feeling sorry for ourselves and our problems, it also gives us something to occupy our time constructively and something to aim for that leads to a sense of achievement. 

We call this ‘Purposeful Occupation’ and it can come in the form of voluntary work, employment, study, self-employment, or following a passion or hobby, for example.

Research shows us that humans are goal orientated creatures. We literally cannot survive without a goal of some kind. People who are purposeful are healthier and happier, which brings me back to my earlier point. Contentment is a more accessible and realistic emotion than happiness and, whilst we might have episodes of happiness or joy, contentment is more  consistent and leads to a calmer, more productive and overall fulfilling life.  

Purpose is linked to motivation. When we spend each day being purposeful in some way, we feel a sense of achievement. This stimulates the reward circuits in the brain, which is pleasurable. We then want to replicate this feeling over and over. Thus, we set more goals to stretch ourselves, which motivates us to strive for that next hit of dopamine (the feel good chemical) which we get whenever we achieve something, and so the cycle continues and we find ourselves living a life on (and of) purpose. We feel contented, and able to meet our other essential needs, whilst supporting others around us to meet theirs and thus, we build healthy and sustainable communities.

* Free Programme - Self-Leadership: Building Resilience & Finding Purpose in Uncertain Times

We are currently running our Level 3 Accredited Programme – Self-Leadership: Building Resilience and Finding Purpose in Uncertain times.

This is fully funded for those who live in Bedfordshire & Luton, and are currently out of work.

The course aims to support individuals to get back into ‘purposeful occupation’ in the forms of setting up your own business, gaining employment, or following a course of study/ training.

If you think you might be eligible for this programme, or would like more information, please visit the Self Leadership page here, where you will find a registration form: Level 3 in Self-Leadership: Building Resilience and Finding Purpose in Uncertain Times – Adept Living Foundation CIC – ALF CIC or contact us at : 

If you have Facebook you can follow us by pressing the icon below and message us from there as well. 

If you are outside Bedfordshire, contact us for information about subsidised programmes.

We look forward to hearing from you! 🙂 

ALF Newsletter August 2020


The Adept Living Foundation (ALF) enables others to handle life stress, enhance work, develop and improve social skills and to gain qualifications in the process.

ALF believe that peer support skills can be developed and used throughout the community, so that peers support each other to stabilise, contain, cope, and thrive through difficult times, and build brighter futures at all times.

Terry & Keith on Lollypop patrol in Great Ashby

ALF is a not for profit Community Interest Company (CIC), people and service-based organisation, who reinvests its profits back into its services on behalf of the community.

Commercial Programs

ALF has continued to deliver the following programmes in Luton & Bedford:

Peers discussing a new Single Parents’ group
  1. Moving Towards Work
  2. Progressing Towards Work
  3. Volunteering Course
  4. IT for Confidence

These courses have been adapted and ALF has developed and invested in technology resources so that the programmes can be delivered online. This will be extended into Hertfordshire during this coming year.

The Mental Health Programme developed alongside the Department of Work and Pensions will be extended and the following courses have been added to our portfolio:

  1. Healthy Intention To Action Plan (HITAP).
  2. Mental Health Confidence.
  3. Work Based Training for Resilient and Purposeful employees.
  4. Enterprise program for careers and business development
  5. Stress at Work Management

ALF are also providing tutor support to local colleges teaching counselling and counselling skills.

Peer Circles

Peer circles were established in Bedford and Langford, and an online COVID-19 support group has been established. Several Peer Circles evolved, as intended, into self-supporting groups, just as the impact of COVID took effect.

School Garden Project Great Ashby

Therapeutic Coaching

ALF has accepted and worked with 14 clients and ALF can now seek to bring on more therapeutic coaching/counsellors, which is an area of investment focus for ALF in the next 12 months to August 2021. ALF plan to move from working with single parents and provide support to ex-offenders.

Peer Coaching

The principle ALF peer coaches are providing ongoing support to 20 peers (being the maximum of ten each). ALF has a need to develop more peer coaches.

The majority of issues addressed, relate to life and work issues, especially those that relate to supporting single parents and individuals who are socially isolated.

Coach & Teacher Training

ALF are grateful to Positive Ways Ltd for the development of the nationally accredited NFCE Level 2 Peer Confidante course, which not only forms the basis of its Peer Communities of Practice but is a vocational course/programme too.

ALF provided support to three people, who developed their skills and have taken them successfully into new ventures. One of the critical challenges that ALF have faced during COVID is the ability to develop new peers and peer circle facilitators.

ALF will now encourage more self-study online and will provide the coaching sessions to enable students to progress through the practical peer coaching qualifications from levels 2 & 3, and into the professional levels 4 and 5.

Research in DENT

The Dynamic Experiential Narrative Theory is the model that underpins the ALF peer focused approach that focuses on making meaning out of experience. Research has continued and is now captured  in and is set out in below

Consultation with Peers

Feedback from peers has led ALF to develop more groups that are based on action in the community rather than the more traditional talking groups, such as peer circles. The groups have evolved into self-supporting groups.

The groups have felt that they miss the input of the senior and more experienced coaches when they are not present, and so the groups need more support in being able to keep the self-efficacy of their groups.  COVID has prevented some of the necessary direct experiential input which the ALF team are considering carefully.


In the last financial year, ALF made a profit of £0.3k and paid tax of £0.1k.

For ALF, paying tax is considered a social obligation and building reserves for a full year of operating costs is considered a prudent objective by the Board.

Currently the reserves amount to £2.3k, which represents about 5 months operating costs. The balance of the 7 months requirement, circa £3k is met by guarantees form the founders, directors, and other contributors.

Current & Future Projects 

ALF has been working on the following peer-based projects:

  1. A Community Garden project in Langford
  2. The Friends of Great Ashby in Stevenage
  3. A group supporting the parents of Special Educational Needs in Stevenage
Langford Community Garden Project sponsored and supported by ALF

ALF have won funding to provide peer support in the Leighton Buzzard and Biggleswade areas, which they are in the process of planning.

ALF Newsletter – May 2021



ALF provide high quality support to charities, the public sector, and community organisations, to improve the way in which they serve their beneficiaries, particularly those who suffer with emotional distress, are struggling financially, may be socially excluded, and are unable to move forward successfully in their lives.

Their clients may have, for example, suffered or be recovering from Addiction; Depression; Stress; Anxiety; Trauma; or feel socially isolated, so will need support to become calm, acquire new interpersonal skills, and apply themselves to meaningful occupation.

In addition to working directly with clients in need, supervising peer support mentors, and advising organisations, ALF supervise and support caring frontline staff such as social workers, nurses, and police, with value for money counselling.

ALF will support any organisation who delivers Peer Support as we are a peer led organisation with specialist expertise in both delivering Peer Support, Mentoring, and Coaching, training Peer Confidantes, Mentors, and Coaches, as well as training and experience in Psychology, Counselling/Psychotherapy, Peer Support, Recovery Coaching, and Business Coaching/Mentoring.

Deployed Services, Competences, & Resources

ALF has a set of very skilled individuals who can deploy ALF’s well managed resources to great effect:

1 Trauma Recovery – The team has expertise, experience and qualifications in psychological trauma recovery and stress management. This means that the challenged learners that are often suffering from mental and emotional well-being deficits can be quickly and pragmatically helped to recovery or can be signposted to the right level of healing and recovery for them.

2 Training/ Teaching for other organisations, as well as internally – All of ALF’s facilitators are qualified teachers who have practical business and psychological insight. This means that the programmes and projects that ALF deliver are designed with success in meaningful occupation at their core, which are capable of being delivered online, face to face or in a blended setting.

3 Accredited Programmes & Courses – The Courses that ALF deliver are unique, bespoke, and based on ALF’s internal research program, which is led by a Member of the British Psychological Society. This means that students benefit from an outcome focused approach that delivers to provide an accreditation to NCFE & CACHE quality standards, enhancing work-based skills and gravitas.

4 Coaching and Mentoring for Business & Career – ALF has staff who are Fellows of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and Fellows of the Institute of Leadership, who train and mentor business students. This means that ALF’s entrepreneur programmes are delivered by staff with a combination of current business experience, latest pragmatic insights and effective coaching methods.

5 Peer Support provision – ALF is a Peer Led organisation with a qualified Peer Support Specialist who also holds qualifications and experience that includes psychology, counselling, and recovery coaching, as well as experience of working in the NHS, Voluntary, and Private sectors, at the helm. She has co-created the Peer Support Programmes and Peer Group frameworks, with the other frontline Psychotherapy and Coaching specialist on the team.

Learners develop personal and interpersonal skills and benefit from coaching & mentoring, which goes beyond traditional tutorial support once they leave the programme. This ensures that any trauma or stress is revolved, so that they can successfully deploy their new skills, and integrate into a self-managing peer support group.


Covid Related Projects

ALF CIC responded quickly in the early stages of the pandemic. In March 2020, when lockdown was announced, ALF began running an online (zoom) Peer Support Poppin for those who were struggling. ALF directors provided immediate support to those in the local community by leading a group of 500 villagers calling themselves ‘Langford COVID responders, volunteers, and information group’, run on Facebook.

We coordinated a leaflet drop to all 3000+ households to reach the most vulnerable, isolated, and elderly, liaised and collaborated with other local community groups, to ensure that villagers were able to receive groceries, medication, attend hospital and doctors’ appointments, and other essential services throughout lockdown. We arranged for local shops to provide a delivery service and raised funds in the village to enable local food outlets to provide meals for those in need. (This group is still active).

Following Project – Langford ‘Lotments:

Following the first lockdown, in August 2020, we endeavoured to continue the ‘community spirit’ that had been established by the COVID responders’ group, by setting up a Community Garden project. Within 24 hours of the suggestion put forward for village feedback, we were donated 2 plots of land within the village and a large group of volunteers came forward to help bring the project together. This group is now circa 180 volunteers strong.

The intention is to create a space where the community can come together for a range of philanthropic reasons:

  • The general benefits to physical and emotional health of gardening and being in nature,
    • to provide community connection, which is an essential need, vital to our survival,
    • to encourage altruistic behaviour which gives a sense of purpose and meaning, and the opportunity to be of service which is often a vital component in mental health and addictions recovery.
    • In producing healthy food to distribute to those who are struggling financially.
    • to encourage and inspire local crafters and hobbyists to contribute and pass on skills to others, making things with the produce and raising funds for the garden.
    • to teach children, via links with the schools, and younger generations about growing, gardening, cooking, and utilising the natural produce all around them.

Entrepreneur Enabler

The Entrepreneurial Enable programme is designed to help more vulnerable groups, especially those with special needs, disabilities or who maybe close to ‘retirement’, build confidence and find meaningful ways to support themselves or supports young micro start-ups with accounting, tax & business acumen.

Alfie Action

The ALFIE Action program is a fledgling program, designed to provide project management to local small organisations delivering community interest initiatives. During the last year, the program has been focused on the ‘Friends of’ and/or ‘Co-operative’ and/or ‘Community Interest’ banners.

This has helped raise fund for a school nature walk project, a SEN support group for parents with special children & a group that teaches sign language. The program has also arranged litter picks & path clearances, in between Covid lockdown. This can provide work for some ALF peers.

DWP and Community Training

ALF successfully delivered the Mental Health programme to the DWP Work coaches across all of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire during 2019, which enabled coaches to understand and empathise with the challenges of that vulnerable group. This was innovative because it is unusual for the DWP to use external facilitators.

Accredited Courses

We have also created a Level 2 accredited course, ‘Supporting Good Emotional/Mental Wellness in the Community’ which has been running since January and are just about to complete our first cohort of the year.

This course was run in response to an increasing number of people in the local community wanting to come forwards and support people who have been affected by COVID. It is aimed especially at those who want to be involved in or run community groups, as well as those who want to work in a voluntary or paid capacity helping others who are struggling with emotional and mental health challenges.

As always, we encourage our students and volunteers to pass on their skills in their families and friendship groups. Most of the members of the current cohort are planning to use this training in either their own wellness businesses, volunteering to help young people and adults with emotional/mental health challenges, and with a view to continuing their education so that they can progress towards becoming fully qualified Peer Mentors/Coaches and progress to employment or self-employment.

Review of Core Services

Bessie’s Buddies

ALF received donations from Tesco’s to deliver ‘Bessie’s Buddies’ a peer support development course (at level 2) across Central Beds & North Herts & Stevenage. One of these courses is current and aims to …….

Tutoring Services

The ALF tutors are available to support local organisations. This last COVID year the work has been focused on teaching counselling skills.

Community Support Services

ALF continue to provide care to the community, especially for those suffering with PTSD. This service has been more difficult to provide due to COVID, as ALF believe that this care is best delivered in a face-to-face environment. Nonetheless, ALF have provided direct support to 15 individuals.

Sometimes the trauma is identified as acute stress, which may for example be because of losing a job or a loved one. ALF supports these individuals in re-finding their confidence, re-engaging and building their resilience. ALF supported 6 such individuals this year.


The ALF team regularly provide volunteer support and encouragement for programs such as lollipop crossing operatives, litter pickers & support with rights of way and keeping paths clear.


ALF will continue to develop on its core services & deliver programs but will seek to offer retreat-based care too. ALF feel that this special kind of focus is ideal for overcoming many forms of trauma & stress, and as such is investigating options in the Cornwall area to make the most of the special countryside there.

ALF are looking at how best they can support the younger (16-21) age group, and how they may need to develop their internal resource capacity.





Cost of service provision


Contribution to Admin Costs


Admin Costs


Admin Costs as % Income (Target 10%)


Deficit after Depreciation & Tax






Estimated Annual Committed Costs


Months Reserves (Target 12)


The Additional annual requirement is underpinned £1.5k of Founder loans & £1.5k of Founder Guarantees

It has been a difficult COVID year, but the Executive Directors of ALF are pleased with the impact that has been achieved from the prudent use of resources.

Keith Abrahams


SHAPE: The Basic Elements of Peer Support

What SHAPE will you create?

SHAPE is an acronym created by Positive Ways to help us remember the five key elements of Peering. Peering is about understanding that we are all inter-connected and that by pooling our collective knowledge and experiences we can help each other to overcome life’s challenges. This will enable us all to move from struggling or even surviving into a life where we thrive. The five elements of the acronym are Support, Hope, Advocacy (of Self), Personal responsibility and Education; I will look at each of these elements in more detail.

Give and receive support

Support is giving or receiving the help that is needed. It is being kind to oneself and others. Listening when someone’s had a bad day or, conversely, being listened to. You can support yourself by developing good behaviours that create positive effects in your life.

A personal example of support is when I took a friend and peer to a hospital appointment. Although it felt hard, I have reflected back to a friend that I felt they were not looking after themselves as support can be pointing out what they perhaps cannot see for themselves. It is important to do this without judgement or the expectation that our advice will be followed. True support is given without any anticipation of it being returned directly from the person we have supported and understanding that, as we develop more connections with our peers, we will always be able to access the support we need when we need it. It is an extremely important part of our essential human needs that we can give as well as receive support (attention). When I feel things are getting too much for me, I will often reach out to my friends; not to ask for support but to give them some attention. This helps me by stopping my mind going into a spin about an issue by giving it something more positive to focus on.

Hope tiles

Hope is trusting that no matter how bad things look in the moment that it will pass and inevitably lead to improvements in your situation. It is focusing on the positive aspects in your life and building on them. It is the belief that you will succeed. I had a recent interaction with a peer at a PoppIn where they were feeling dejected about a course they were taking that I have also recently completed. I listened to their experience and found it was similar to my own in that they were finding the material quite difficult to assimilate through the online videos. I shared my experience and explained that I had been able to get through it and pass. I also offered to chat to them if they needed further support. They left at the end of the evening feeling a lot more positive and hopeful about the course being able to complete the course themselves.

Speaking up for yourself

Advocacy (of Self) is being able to voice what you need when you need it. It is having the confidence to be able to express a view that may differ from others. It’s being able to state when you feel others behaviour towards you is unacceptable. In the medical model of mental health, this is often suppressed as the doctors and psychiatrists can believe that a person with mental health issues doesn’t know what is best for them. My personal experience of self-advocacy is that I now feel confident to stop a conversation that I don’t feel comfortable to continue; I will explain, calmly, that I do not wish to continue this conversation at this moment and tell them whether I feel I will be willing to come back to the conversation at a later date or not.

Moving towards our goals

Personal responsibility is taking ownership of your experience. It is understanding that you have authority over yourself and holding yourself accountable for what you say and do. This can be seen when someone understands their own motivations and sets themselves achievable targets to keep them moving forwards. Personal responsibility is also knowing what is for you to be accountable for and what is for someone else. It does not support us to take on for other people what they should handling for themselves. My own example of this is I take the time to look at my habits and behaviours while I was completing a course and I realised that I left the study until the last minute, which put me under a lot of pressure as I am also a bit of a perfectionist. In the past, this has meant that I have failed to complete courses as I have got stuck and the deadline has passed. I understood that I needed to make changes to my patterns if I wanted to be successful and achieve my ambitions.

Learning is important

Education is developing yourself, gaining knowledge. It is learning new skills to grow. An example of this is to take a college or personal development course, such as ALF’s resilience course. It could also be taking time to be more mindful to understand your motivations for behaviours or what needs you have met or not met. By keeping your mind active with new and positive things will help you to stop focusing on old and destructive habits and patterns. I have recently undertaken a teacher training course. This has helped me by highlighting areas I can get stuck and possibly need to develop, such as not liking using forms designed by others blocking me from completing an assignment. I felt that as it was for a course I had to use the form provided to create a lesson plan but it did not feel intuitive to use for me. I was able to see this blockage and understand where similar situations had stopped me in the past. I eventually tweaked the form to support me complete the assignment.

Everything is linked

Each of these aspects of peer support are inter-linked.

Developing skill in one of these aspects will automatically help you develop the skills in others. By asking for support, you are developing self-advocacy and personal responsibility. You are also displaying hope as you trust that someone will be there to support you. To know what support you require, you must have educated yourself. Sometimes, when we are struggling, we may think that we need to receive attention from another person; however, occasionally, it can be that the best thing we can do is to give attention and get it away from negative thought patterns in our brains. It takes time to learn when you need to give or receive attention. Also, it is a part of learning self-advocacy to learn to take personal responsibility for how we say what we need or want to say. Can we find a way to say it that the recipient will be more able to understand where we are coming from? It is all well and good speaking up for ourselves but, if we alienate everyone around us by speaking without tact and diplomacy where it’s needed, then we will be reducing our support network.


ALF Newsletter August 2019


The Adept Living Foundation (ALF) enables others to handle life stress, enhance work, life and social skills and gain qualifications in the process

ALF is a not for profit Community Interest Company (CIC), who reinvests its profits back into its services

Commercial Programmes

During the last 12 months ALF continued to work with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and completed the mental health training for its work-based coaches across Herts and Beds, delivering to about 600 staff.

Charitable Programmes

ALF also developed and delivered the NOAH (Luton) programs:

  1. Moving Towards Work
  2. Progressing Towards Work
  3. Volunteering Course
  4. IT for Confidence

This means that we have delivered to about 100 people.

Therapeutic Coaching

ALF also accepted 12 referrals for therapeutic coaching, all of which were funded from within its own resources.

Consultation with peers

ALF is pleased that it had been able to enjoy the support of key sponsors such as Change Grow Live (CGL). However, this meant that ALF attracted a number of peers still struggling with addiction.

This led to some peers feeling that their needs, often less complex were not being met, for example single working mothers.

It also meant that limited resources of the founders were being stretched too far as the groups often felt they could not cope.

ALF’s founders experience and deep appreciation is that the Alcoholics Anonymous and its affiliate Fellowships are more adequately able to facilitate addictions.

ALF will continue to support its peers and clients with addressing stress from everyday living; work, study, family and social, but reiterates its intention to focus on education and self-advocacy.

ALF will still accept referrals for therapeutic coaching and will work with all aspects of challenged learning and learners under The ALF Enterprises programmes but will now focus on everyday stress.


The ALF team have conducted research and published on Researchgate (see below) on how emotional tensions can be resolved using the Dynamic Experiential Narrative Theory (DENT©) approach to peer support and on how entrepreneurs overcome barriers to success in goal setting.


ALF and the team ensure that they get out and about. We attend events to watch others (see David and Suzanne at Biggleswade below) and Terry and Keith visiting a school fete in Great Ashby. Also below is the team at Langford Village Fete and for their Fundraising Event, with the ‘Shambles’ in Pirton.


In the last financial year, ALF made a profit of £1.6k and paid tax of £0.4k.

For ALF, paying tax is considered a social obligation and building reserves for a full year of operating costs is considered a prudent objective by the Board.

Currently the reserves amount to £2.1k, which represents about 5 months operating costs. The balance of the 7 months requirement, circa £3k is met by guarantees form the founders, directors and other contributors.


The ALF team wish to thank Bernie Roles for her efforts in helping build ALF from its early foundations. Bernie will be sorely missed as she goes on to develop her new career.

Moving forward

The last six months have seen ALF develop its approach to delivering peer confidante and group facilitator training. This will now be delivered as a combination of face to face groups across Herts and Beds and online delivery of groups.

This will enable ALF to deliver more efficiently and consistently from its current pool of resources.

The Face to Face meetings will be held on Sundays and the online sessions will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

ALF are grateful to Positive Ways Ltd for the development of the nationally accredited NFCE Level 2 Peer Confidante course, which not only forms the basis of its Peer Communities of Practice, but is a vocational course/programs too.

  1. Healthy Intention To Action Plan (HITAP).
  2. Mental Health Confidence.
  3. Work Based Training for Resilient and Purposeful employees.
  4. Enterprise program for careers and business development
  5. Stress at Work Management

Key future projects

One of the strategic development services is that ALF is working with senior coaches at Just Clarity Ltd, to provide coaching support to those returning back to work.

Collaborating with recruitment agencies, the ambition is to provide a work based qualification (Level 2 Emerging Confidante) and to provide into/back to work support when the peer commences work.

Single working parents are one of ALF’s target marginalised groups. ALF are pleased to accept the support of the current local MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, Bim Afolami.

Peer Coaching Tree

Positive Ways is ALF’s training partner and we use their programme to train Peer professionals at three levels, enabling career progression as well as personal development.

The Peer Confidant is an Award at level 3, Peer Mentor is a Certificate at level 4, and the Peer Coach is a Diploma at level 5. All courses require a minimum of 370 hours of study.

The core course teaches peer professional skills and theory, which can be used in any field, with additional modules which can bespoke the course to a specific environment. Our current specialism are for use within Mental Health and community based peer practice, and in the workplace and business.

The Peer Coaching Tree

Positive Ways is inspired by the age old metaphor of the Oak tree, whereby the purposeful spirit of the tree is held, germinated, and released from the see through its mutual interaction with the attentiveness of the crucial elements of a fertile soil, nourishing water, a warming sun, and strengthening winds that sustain and shape it over time. There is always plenty of time, through changing seasons, as it blossoms and sustains, back in return.

Tree Diagram


Following on with this metaphor, as we work through the programme, the roots provide the firm foundation from which we can always draw the nourishment and support needed to sustain us throughout our lifelong journey.

Moving into the trunk of the tree, the focus is on developing ‘myself’ and understanding our current place in relation to others, ourselves, and the world. We understand our current limitations, identify how our needs are being met, and prepare to get our current story clear, in preparations for taking it into the branches of the tree where, through co-production, it can unfold with our peers as we continue to move towards purposefulness.

We become strong enough in the trunk to accept our relatedness with all others and all things, whilst negotiating our path within and through the systems of which we are a part, and become aligned within ourselves.

With a strong sense of self, drawn up from the roots and the trunk, we take considered action, build healthy relationships with others, continue learning, reflect on and in our action, and gently stretch ourselves as we progress, with our peers. In the branches of the tree, we become adept at living life, as we always keep an eye towards to the crown of the tree, which is purposefulness.

At the core of a life is a hard purposefulness, a determination to live.


Is at the roots of the Peer Coaching Tree, forming the strong foundation for a lifelong learning journey that is respectfully two way, in that we both give, and receive.Mutualness

It is the basis of any relationship that gives strength, encouragement, support, and purpose. It embraces diversity whereby ‘I’ am stretched by the difference in ‘me’ to meet the difference in ‘you’. Thereby, we understand and grow, acknowledging and negotiating the power relations inherent in every relationship whereby ‘you’ or ‘I’ may lead the other towards purposefulness in each stage of the learning journey.

This is an intersubjectivity which includes awareness and acceptance of ‘me’ in relations to ‘you’ at any given point and recognises that it is dynamic and can shift.


Is the first part of the trunk of the tree. It acknowledges that, first and foremost, we are born into the world in which, from conception, we are always related to others. Some call this inherent inter-relatedness, the web of life, or the collective unconscious, for example.

From the moment we enter the world, we become part of a family system, and this is just one of a collective of systems we are inherently a part of throughout our lives.

In the Inter-View, we look at how we currently navigate ourselves within and between the systems of which we are a part.

CogsSometimes there are systems in which we need to be a part, even if it is temporary, For example, as users of health systems, or as employees of organisations, How we navigate our way though and within these systems will impact our experiences of them, our wellness, and other aspects of the tree, Moving towards a place of finding a healthy way to do this, moves us along our journey towards purposefulness.

By looking at the five domains of a healthy life (physical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual), we will see how the Inter-View is inherent through all of these in getting our needs met, mobilising full use of our innate resources and, with our peers, becoming purposeful. We call this Emotional Resilience in Action.

Self View

Once we have understood our relatedness with all things and all others, we can begin to look more closely at our relatedness with the self.

This may involve taking a look at how we are currently narrating the story of our lives, in preparation for co-creating and co-producing a new, health story in the branches of the tree.

We look at how we can improve and build on our self-efficacy. In other words, do we have authority – the ability and right to take action in our lives; do we take responsibility – take action when we know it is our to take; do we hold ourselves to account – or check ion and ensure that we are keeping the promises to take action that we have made to ourselves, and how do we measure that. We may take a closer look at our inner Mirrorresources.


We come to understand in our Self-View that, as everything is constantly changing and shifting, the same is true of ourselves. The self is dynamic, Once we accept that there is no true essence, fixed identity, or ‘self’ that can be pinned down, and lived to, we are better able to adapt to the constant changing both within and out side of ourselves. We are able to relate to all of the different aspects of ourselves. We come to be ‘okay’ with the parts of ourselves that we may have judged, and appreciate those parts that form our strengths, gifts, and talents. This is a process we call Adeptness.


Is where we begin to understand and shape our personal values and our rationale for our life. In other words, identifying and pursuing those things that bring meaning to our lives and enable us to make sense of your world, and our existence in it.

We may need to modify certain beliefs, assumptions, and inferences which limit and make us unhappy. We build on our Inter-View, and Self-View, and bring them together to create a healthy Life-View which motivates and leads us towards purposefulness, ValuesIncluded in this are our personal ethics, morals and laws that govern us and provide a personal framework from which we can go out into the world.

Once we have melded our experience of others, ourselves, and the work and have a healthy Life-View with clear personal values and beliefs, we are ready to move into the branches of the tree and begin to co-produce our healthy narrative with our peers which will move us towards purposefulness.


Is where we first look at our relationships with other which may sometimes have has a tendency to become unhealthy in their transaction between self and other. This could be in personal or professional relationships.

As we are always moving towards health, in any aspect of the tree, we begin to see the unhealthy patterns of the drama triangle give way to an adept triangle of relating with other that is healthy.

In looking at relationships, we can understand how to negotiate power with the relationship, and set healthy boundaries which benefit ourselves and those we work or Intelligent cooperationlive with. It is here we also identify our limitations in relationships, or the extent to which we can guide and lead another and leave them in command of their own cycle of adeption whilst always supporting them in leading themselves through the Inter-View, Self-View, and Life-View stages of the tree.

Co-Operation can also mean the ways in which businesses, organisations and services work, genuinely, together to share ideas, knowledge, resources, and support, sometimes called Co-Opetition in business.

All of the above are a form of Intelligent Co-Operation, which is altruistically reciprocal, whereby we are open to receiving and responding constructively to feedback from others and the environment, whilst we are checking our progress towards purposefulness.


Here, the process of our learning, in the fullest sense, is scaffolded and supported with another, as we are broadening our knowledge and skills.

Co-educationWe begin to narrate our new story, with its aim always towards health and purposefulness. We shape our vision of how we wish to be purposeful, in our lives of business for example, then we construct and co-create the story which will take us there.

Co-Education draws out the knowledge and resourcefulness which we have within ourselves and builds our confidence in co-producing and co-delivering the fullest expression of our potential.


Here we are able to confidently take considered action, supported by our peers, and taken from the clear intentions we have set ourselves.

In many therapeutic and coaching interventions, taking action is often where people come un-stuck, or find a challenge. The journey from intention to action can seem like bridging a deep and wide ravine, and sometimes  a bit of action may be taken but not sustained for long enough to create a new, health habit. Sometimes the old story can Action handsentice us back into old patterns and disable us from creating lasting change, this can also prove de-motivating for future efforts.

By taking Co-Action, we have an inbuilt accountability partner, as well as someone we can rehearse with and lean on when things feel tough,

The Peer Coach minds the gap between intention and action, whilst we find our feet and move from simply taking action, to sustenance, when the scaffolding can be removed and make way for aspirations to higher levels of adeption.


Is a process which takes place both during, and on, action. We reflect whilst we are taking action, and we reflect on the action which has been taken. This gives us the ability Calm pictureto modify and encourage whilst we are doing the action, and then to take stock of what we have achieved, whilst appreciating the extent to which we have developed thus far.

In our reflection and appreciation towards ourselves and others, we foster an attitude of gratitude which serves to make us feel our efforts are worthwhile and aids us to make sense of our lives. Together with hope, gratitude; meaning, purpose; and service to others, make up a Pragmatic spirituality which is the fifth essential domains of life and will be discussed further, during this module.


In this module we look at our personal growth with a view to preparing for the next set of goals. We acknowledge that, at times, personal growth comes equally from pausing and slowing down, as much as it does from fast paced action. In this part of the course, we will learn that personal mastery comes from practice. To use the metaphor of the plateau, the plateau is a great place to see far and wide, take a pause, and then decide Be change becomewhich part of the view we wish to head towards next.

We will take stock of our personal strengths and weaknesses with our peers to best consider how to make optimum use of the opportunities that present themselves. We understand that the wheel continues to turn, and the tree continues to blossom and grow. Part of human motivation is the need to always be moving towards competence, achievement, and purposefulness.


Here, we arrive at purposefulness, though it is not an end, more where we achieve the sense that there is always something worthwhile to wake up for every day. However, with all of the elements of the tree providing an firm foundation, this purposefulness is Purposestrong and considered, and the action we take is energy efficient and focused.

In this module we set the goals with our peers that are going to motivate us and provide continuity and sustenance for our purposefulness.

Our personal narrative is congruent with our goals and aligned to take us forwards with purposefulness. By using the tools and knowledge that we have gained in our journey from the roots to the crown of the tree, we need always ever be focused forwards, sustained and supported by it, and by our peers with whom we co-design, co-produce, and co-deliver our purposefully led life.

At the core of a life is a hard purposefulness, a determination to live.



ALF is a Community Interest Company. This means we work together to create resources to invest in and serve our community. We term this ‘solidarity’.

In a charity resources flow from those who have to those who are assumed to have some deficit or lacking. For charities, accountability for what they do is set internally, based on the charities’ ongoing survival. The relationship between the haves and the have nots is ‘we do for you’.

In ALF, solidarity recognises that power relationships, collective wisdom and mutual resources flow in many directions, we all have the ability to be creative and solve problems. ALF encourages everyone to play their part, to be supported and contribute as they can, in mutual exchange.

We ask three questions:

  1. How did we create this?
  2. What can we develop together?
  3. What makes for just a bit better society?

ALF research and clarify to ensure we are meeting the mutual goals of our stakeholders.

ALF Newsletter – August 2018

August 2018 Newsletter

2017/18 has been both mutually fulfilling and purposeful for ALF, clients and sponsors. Thank you! Here is an overview of activity.

ALF work from Peer Support principles, bringing lived experience of work, business, & family, alongside overcoming emotional, physical & mental health challenges, including trauma & addiction, to deliver success with organisations & individuals through their interactions & goals. Connect hands

The directors are pleased to report that in the first 14 months of operating, ALF have secured the resources of 4 Directors, 3 ad hoc coaches/trainers, 1 nutritional consultant, & in the process have raised £26.3k & spent £26.8k to achieve ALF’s aims.

We now have a board of 4 executive directors and 3 Non-executive Directors (NEDS), with one vacancy for a NED to support and develop our Clinical work.

ALF have a multi skilled team consisting of people with training & qualifications in Peer Coaching/ Mentoring, Teaching, Counselling, Psychotherapy, Psychology, Research, Special Needs, Addictions, Trauma & PTSD resolution treatment, Bookkeeping, Accountancy, Administration, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Holistic Therapies and Complimentary medicine, Naturopathy, Nutritional Therapy, Chinese Medicine, Business and Executive Coaching, not to mention the artistic & interpersonal skills that the team possess which are indirectly useful to us!

ALF Peer Mentoring, Coaching, & Counselling work – Successes!

• ALF appreciate organisations who provide Into Work Support, by working with their hard core challenged individuals who have been stuck. ALF are pleased to report 3 successes this year.

• ALF helped 12 emergency service personnel overcome trauma resulting from professionally challenging incidents

Puzzle head• ALF has supported single parents suffering from being separated from their children, deal with grief.

• ALF has also supported single, working parents who need help to find a balance in their work & life, as well as support in overcoming the stress & fear of managing alone.

• ALF recognises that many challenged people are also highly functional & in jobs. Some are, however, at risk of stress at work & potentially losing their jobs. ALF has supported several clients resolve work related stress, returning to being resourceful & committed staff, who can continue to take care of their families.

• ALF have served 10 individuals with stress at work, and 10 individuals with life stress, trauma, and addictions. Trainee Counsellors have supported 4 individuals to remain in work. This has prevented clients becoming unemployed and kept them effective in work.


ALF have run the following services throughout the past 14 months with the equivalent of 1.5 FTE members of staff.

• Six Resilience Programmes for:

  •  Single mums
  •  Senior Managers, including those in social care, voluntary sector, & probation
  •  Men’s Resilience

• Fortnightly Peer Support group between April and August 2017 Beacon

• Fortnightly Enterprise Peer Support group between April and August 2017

• Fortnightly PoppIns from April 2018 in

  •  Dunstable
  • Luton
  • Biggleswade
  • Stevenage (Upcoming)

• Fortnightly Intentional Peer Support groups in our specialist areas of Addiction, Trauma, and Stress in:

  •  Arlesey
  • Dunstable
  • Stevenage (Upcoming)

• Weekly training of all Department of Work & Pensions Staff (600) across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire (end July 2018) in Mental Health Awareness


ALF conduct their own research in the community, and have developed:

• The Healthy Intentions to Action Plan (HITAP). This plan gives a focus to one to one Peer Support. Each member of staff is expected to have completed their own HITAP as this supports their continued health & also enables them to create purposeful aspirations with a successful vision for the future.

Focus• ALF have undertaken action research in supporting Positive Ways develop an effective Psychological intervention based on their researched Dynamic Experiential Narrative Theory (DENT©)

• DENT© focuses on the socially embodied experience (coined the ‘Anoni’) of each
individual  & how they express & explain their experience in purposefully connecting with, & suitably meeting their community’s expectations.

• Emma & Keith will be working on the publication of a text & story book, that will underpin DENT© the proceeds of which will be donated towards ALF.
Tree Diagram

• DENT© includes a model of change & development, termed the Cycle of Adeption©

• This enables individuals to understand the process from being stuck, through purposefulness, to success.

• An Adept individual can sustain change and remain in command in the face of volatility, uncertainty, complexity & ambiguity. Cycle of Adeption

ALF use the Positive Ways DENT© based Peer Coaching Diploma course to train Peer Professionals in the UK, which enables Career and Qualification progression from Level 3 Award to Level 4 Certificate, Level 5 Diploma and beyond.

Funds and Awareness Raising

• ALF have raised funds by taking on a major contract to train all DWP staff (600 by end of July 2018) across Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire, in Mental Health Awareness.

• ALF raised just under £2000 by holding a fundraising music evening in September 2017.

• ALF have attended 2 summer fetes in 2018 to raise awareness and funds.

Intelligent cooperation• ALF have led the Business Community Hub twice monthly events alongside NatWest bank

• ALF took part in a school careers fair in Central Beds.

• ALF has built a partnership with the Disability Resource Centre, Dunstable, where we have an office and teach our Peer Coaching Diploma.

• We have also taught on some of the DRC’s Mental Health based programmes & Keith (our MD) has provided Financial Director support to the charity.

• ALF have trained a cohort of 8 Peer Mentors & are seeking funding for further cohorts on the waiting list.

Our partnerships demonstrate how ALF like to ‘mind the gaps’ & go where needed, rather than compete for resources for services which are already being adequately provided by other successful organisations.

The next 12 months

ALF have some ambitious plans for the year ahead. Here is just a taster of some of the things we intend to achieve:

• 5 more PoppIns & 3 more IPSGs across Herts & Beds run by trained Peer Professional staff & volunteers

• Reaching more organisations and individuals by expanding our network & building Bird Soaringsolid relationships with the Public, Corporate, & Voluntary Sectors

• Running 4 Enterprise & 4 Resilience Programmes across Beds & Herts.

• Host quarterly Community Hub seminar & workshop events across Beds & Herts

• Raise the profile of ALF via the Community College for Applied Commerce, once fully accredited.
• Translate our courses to online teaching programmes.

• Host a full programme of fundraising events throughout the year including quizzes, discos, and music, run by Peers.

• Continue our work with the DWP by providing bespoke courses to staff, supporting ‘complex cases’ customers, and adding our services to the DWP Dynamic Purchasing system.

• Apply to national funding bodies and local government for funding where the projects suit ALF’s objectives.

• Access apprenticeships funding.

• Hold a conference, sharing expertise and bringing others together who are working in the field.

Please do join us on the next leg of our journey! 😊

At the core of a life is a hard purposefulness, a determination to live.

Other Case Studies through one to one and peer group support:

• ALF have supported a single mum to resolve issues in a challenging relationship and successfully co-parent with her partner in separate households. The couple have recently had a second child.

• ALF enabled a traumatised woman to resolve trauma and overcome severe levels of anxiety to move from being housebound to booking a holiday for her family.

• ALF coached a woman with post-natal depression to resolve addictive behaviour and relationship challenges to get back to work and eventually change career.

Emma Jaynes – CEO


Facebook: @AdeptLivingFoundationALF

Twitter: @alfcic



APPENDIX Positive Ways – DENT© Based Peer Coaching Brief Overview.

What is taught? Through a blended combination of online, self-study, classroom learning and practical role-playing, you will learn:

• The difference between coaching and therapy

• The DENT© Peer Coaching methodology

• Peer purpose-focused coaching skills

• The necessary attributes for peer mentoring and coaching

• The ability to enable change in corporate and personal environments

• Ethical behaviour in peer support


Values 2

The Core Peer Coaching programme covers:

• Emotional Resilience in Action (New ERA program) which is essential to business and life.

• The PW three step coaching conversation process

• Essential counselling and coaching approaches and, developmental psychology models, and

• The DENT© theory and techniques.

And is taught at three levels:

1. Build confidence in and understanding of Purposefulness, Mutualness and Impact, through being a CONFIDANTE.

2. Develop awareness of the outside world (the Inter-view), the person (Self-view) and then make sense of how the two interact (Life-view), by being a MENTOR.

3. Learn, grow and achieve through using straightforward developmental psychology and teaching techniques, by being a COACH.
Coaches can then choose to focus on either:

1. Organisational Enterprise option, or

2. Emotional and Mental Health Option

Needs Pie picture

Why do we need to be adept at living, learning and contributing?

The world is becoming more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA). Having clear reasons to do things and working together supportively, by being purposeful, and acting in mutually engaging ways are critical success factors for us all.

Simply put, individuals need to be adept in co-operating with and succeeding in their environment.

What is peer coaching?

Peer Coaching uses lived experience and is a mutual, interactive, interpersonal process between two or more individuals, sharing information and emotional support for co-learning and growth towards meeting their purpose.

In the coaching process, high quality relationships are formed, based on trust, authenticity, straightforwardness, and support. In forming these mutual and meaningful connections with others, individuals gain a greater sense of energy, vision and ultimately self-understanding. This leads to greater commitment to, and attainment of, purpose.

The peer coach is trained not to be intrusive, but to hold the VUCA, to suitably lead their coachee through a cycle of adeption, so that the individual builds and grows with others, and the outside world.

Peer Coaching is aimed at organisations, groups and individuals.

• Organisations that want to introduce and benefit from internally generated learning and knowledge management, through peer support relationships, mentoring networks, or communities of practice.

• Groups often aim to provide similar settings in which individuals share lived experience, mutually, and together to foster individual growth and promote wellbeing

• Individuals learn how to improve and build more healthy relationships with themselves, significant others and their work, life and home environments.

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