Case Study:
Citizen Coaching

It’s good to talk


The Full Story.

Martin Hogg’s own experiences as a troubled teen drove his ambition to create a counselling service that was accessible, not with clinical clipboards. He set up Citizen Coaching in 2005.

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It delivers contracts for the NHS, local colleges and companies, as well as supporting individuals. For counsellors, it delivers professional training and runs conferences. Surplus income goes to people who require counselling but can’t afford it.

An £80,000 loan and grant from Key Fund in 2018 helped build new counselling rooms and develop online services. The investment saw revenue double, to a turnover of £480,000.

In a year, Citizen Coaching delivered 20,000 face-to-face counselling sessions via sixty counsellors in 12 languages, supporting over 4,000 people.

Almost 90% of clients reported better relationships, increased well-being, and felt more able to engage in work or education.

Martin wanted to create a service with warm and accessible surroundings, not clinical clipboards. He set up Citizen Coaching in 2005

Then Covid hit. 75% of clients, aged 14 to 24, were normally referred by youth workers and GPs.

Many would fall through the system in lockdown, followed by a tsunami of referrals as the nation’s mental health declined.

“Those who already have issues with anxiety see the world as a dangerous or difficult place,” Martin said. “So, people with anxiety are particularly affected.”

Martin feared for those “hidden and struggling” who would need serious support.

“By the time we got to October 2020, we saw a doubling in the number of referrals, and an increase in complexities.”

Social isolation, health worries, and exam anxiety added up to a ‘perfect storm’ for young people.

“Imagine dealing with the death of your granddad, who you loved very much and couldn’t see before his death, and every time you turn on the TV, there’s talk about Covid deaths.”

In lockdown, Citizen Coaching had to close all face-to-face sessions. With the drop in referrals as services closed, they also lost rental income for their counselling rooms.

But the team couldn’t turn their backs. Martin moved all its physical counselling sessions online. He also offered an online Anger Management course for free, supporting 538 people to date.

To survive, he negotiated a rent reduction, cancelled all possible outgoing expenses, accessed a bounce back loan and was swift to react and plan.

“Our job is to have an agile workforce that are ready to make sure they can meet these demands.”

With a cash-flow and financial loss of £30,000 in just eight weeks, Key Fund stepped in with £75,000 from the Social Enterprise Support Fund.

Key Fund support will ensure Citizen Coaching bounces back to sustainability.

Loan: £107,100
Grant: £107,900
Total invested: £215,000

Can you describe the impact that funding has had on Citizen Coaching?

“The loan and grant in 2018 gave us the solid foundations to diversify services online when Covid hit. Part of that funding was to update our online systems, so, we were better prepared than most, because our people already had experience of delivering online. We just had to train more to cope with the demand and complexity of cases. The grant from the Social Enterprise Support Fund then allowed us to scale up yet again, secure jobs, and make us competitive and relevant.”

Martin Hogg


Sam’s Story

Sam was struggling; he was balancing studying at college and being a carer for his father who has a long-term medical condition.


The onset of lockdown restrictions meant that his dad had to shield, and Sam had to attend lessons online. Sam described the home environment as like a ‘pressure cooker’.

Dad struggled without his regular activities and Sam felt that he was losing his identity, space and missed his friends. Tempers got frayed and Sam noticed that the coping strategies he normally used weren’t working like they used to.

Sam said: “The weekly sessions I had with my counsellor became a lifeline for me, allowing me to express my frustrations, take ‘time for me’ and learn some coping strategies to manage my anger and anxiety. I realised that quite often I am the parent to my dad rather than the other way round. I love him and want to support him but need time for myself and realise that this is okay – I don’t have to feel guilty about taking time for myself.”

Sam continued: “The counsellor at Citizen Coaching let me know about online resources that could help outside the sessions, including an online anger management programme. They also helped me to connect with an organisation that supports other young carers like me.”

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