“Death by 1000 Cuts” Reflective Poem

We asked our PTS Qualification students to express “What ‘System Change’ means to me”. Some interesting reflections from PTS Coach Shauna came via this moving poem we are sharing on #WorldPoetryDay.


A death by 1000 cuts. The government carelessly holds the knife and hides the murder, does anyone care or were they just a number?

A cut to benefits,

A slash to welfare.

A stab to community investment,

A puncture to public services.

How do we deal with the people who are wounded? Those who are injured by decisions made without their voices included.

We blame those who are bleeding rather than the ones holding the knife, influenced by a deficit system that should be scrutinised.

We hand out plasters rather than treating the injury, an unsustainable system which has led to a lack of sympathy.

People being stretchered through each system which reopens their wounds, adding in salt with the language they use.

Risk assessments resurfacing old scars rather than allowing people to heal. Everyone has a past, what’s the big deal?

People being attacked with assessment, tick boxes, and sanctions. Their experiences reduced to KPI’s for a funder’s satisfaction.

There are people looking for help but falling through the cracks, being told they don’t have the resources to get back.

The battle of the ‘us vs them’ narrative rather than working collaboratively and listening. It’s time to undo systematic conditioning.

Austerity related deaths, suicide rates, and poverty continue to rise. We need compassion as people try their best to survive.

This is just a small insight to see, a part of what system change means to me.


by Shauna Hemphill


Change a System

“There’s a System to Run a System” Reflective Poem

This #WorldPoetryDay we are delighted to share an insightful poem written by one of our PTS Qualification students in response to our Module 1 Challenge to express “What ‘System Change’ means to me”. Thank you to Sharron for sharing these moving thoughts with us.


There’s systems to run a system

To keep the cog wheels turning

And enlightened few yearning

For a different system, a better way

For system users to have a say

And take back control of their situation

To stop being labelled as a victim

The system has many labels and boxes

Very few options, more deficits and losses;

A loss of identity, a loss of trust

A loss of empowerment because “you must…”


I dream of a system that has no system

Where the cogs which are turning actually capture the yearning

Of those once trapped, and desperate to be free

Where the person before us is all we see

Where their voice is the only one we hear

And the path to their success is the one we cheer

Not the one we tick off on an assessment sheet

Or what we tell them they must do at the scheduled meet.


There’s systems to run systems

But no-one runs me

I am the change if I choose to be

I am the enlightened, free to create

Free to modify the systems I have grown to hate

I’ll be ridiculed and silenced and argued against

Story of my life, systems are not strength based

But my strength lies in showing compassion

Building relationships makes things happen.

If we understand what lies beneath

Those systems will slowly begin to creak

Power doesn’t lie in the hands of those systems

It comes from words and the impact they give us

So I will shout my words ever so loudly

And argue my case with confidence, and proudly

Because the systems that keep the cogs ever turning

Have less people applauding and more who are learning

That those systems don’t work and the system is broken

No truer words will ever be spoken.

The dream for me will be my reality

And systems within systems will be the fallicy.

There’s systems to run a system

But no one runs me

I’m enlightened, I’m awake

Time to be me.


by Sharron Harries

Job Opportunity Support Worker

Support Worker??? – Haringey & Westminster

Support Worker???
Location: Haringey and Westminster

Flexible working hours welcomed
37 hours per week- £26,000 pa plus London weighting.

This is no ordinary support worker role, instead, as a Person-led, Transitional and Strength-based (PTS) Network Coach, you will:

  • Walk alongside people experiencing tough times, listening, identifying system barriers and working to overcome them.
  • Unleash your inner activist and contribute to challenging and changing systems around homelessness, substance use, social care, mental health and criminal justice.
  • Share your grassroots experience influencing others across the UK.

About Mayday

Mayday is an organisation with a network of passionate social activists working to bring about systemic change, whilst offering people going through tough times such as homelessness, leaving care, coming out of prison or experiencing emotional trauma, person-led and strength-based support through its PTS Response.

The Role*

Mayday is looking for someone who believes in people; a person who is comfortable walking alongside someone to identify and overcome barriers, to connect people with a positive community network and friendships, build on their strengths and achieve the future they want.

This is an opportunity for someone who understands that in the world today, the problem is not people with ‘complex needs’ but a broken system. A system that is failing to treat people as people. A system that traps and institutionalises people.

This role is not for the faint hearted, it is for someone with a passion for social justice, and the energy and determination to make systems work for people going through tough times.

Mayday is excited to be recruiting this role to be part of a team working with people who are experiencing tough times across Haringey and Westminster.

We believe that a thriving organisation is one who builds a diverse team, representative of the community it serves.  Therefore we welcome applicants from all walks of life, and would particularly encourage those from underrepresented groups to consider the opportunity.

How to Apply

Please complete the application form (link below) and submit the completed version to: recruitment@maydaytrust.org.uk. Applications close: 5.00pm Thursday 7th April. An online interactive group session will take place on the morning of Tuesday 19th April 10.30 – 1.00 followed by online formal individual interviews on either the afternoon of Wednesday 20th April or the morning of Thursday 21st April.


Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form

Support Worker PTS Network Coach Job Description 2022

Change Typewriter

“Let’s Offer People What We Would Want” says Mayday Trust CEO

In his latest blog, CEO of Mayday Trust Alex Fox explores the PTS (Person-led, Transitional and Strength-based) Response and suggests that it “shouldn’t be revolutionary to suggest that support for people who are going through the toughest times, like being homeless” should mirror other elective and more positive coaching experiences often reserved for athletes or those looking to push forward in their executive careers.  Those models, like the PTS response pioneered by Mayday Trust, can “help us to identify what we want to work on and what our goals are” allowing us to “see our strengths as well as our problems clearly, and to find our potential” suggests Alex:

“Large and growing numbers of us choose support when we are going through tough times because we expect it to be a positive experience which may have painful moments but will ultimately help us grow. There can even be a status attached to being able to afford and valuing yourself enough to seek ‘executive coaching’ or a personal trainer.”

Having been in post at Mayday for 2 months Alex reflected on his listening and learning during that period saying:

“I’ve heard countless stories from our coaches about people making changes through working with someone who has the freedom to think like a sports coach rather than a support worker. It always starts with people building trust: “You are the first person who has actually listened to me in years”. And it progresses to potential and achievements – big or small – that enable someone “to feel like a human being again”. Much of it has been with people who are homeless, but we’re also using the approach with young adults and with people with long term health conditions, as part of a social prescribing programme. It’s not rocket science, but it is complex, nuanced work with a huge body of resources and learning behind it, and a strong community of practice and support structure including clinical supervision.”


Alex’s blog follows the release of a report by the New Economics Foundation that suggests the PTS Response is offering people a significant improvement in their well being, self-esteem and a feeling that they are able to build more meaningful relationships with their coach to support their development.

You can read Alex’s full post here.





NEF Consulting Report

‘A New Way to Respond to Homelessness’ Examined by NEF Foundation Report

A report conducted by NEF Consulting, part of the New Economics Foundation, studying a new way to respond to those facing homelessness evidences a sector wide shift is needed.

NEF Consulting conducted a two-year evaluation of the Person-Led, Transitional and Strength Based (PTS) Response delivered by two national organisations working in the homelessness sector, Mayday Trust in Northampton and its partner Changing Lives in Newcastle. The PTS Response sees executive-style coaching, usually reserved for highly-paid business managers, working for people who had been trapped in homelessness for years.

Alex Fox, Chief Executive of Mayday Trust, who pioneered the response, said, “These findings confirm what we have been saying for many years. Working in this way can revolutionise the support we give to people going through tough times.”

The PTS Response is a way of working with people that listens to what they want and need and offers coaching support to help people reach their goals. There is no compulsory engagement, the coaches work at the pace of the person, and a lot of time is invested in building relationships of trust and respect.

The ‘Evaluating the Person-Led, Transitional and Strength Based (PTS) Response Report’ was released today and evidences the pioneering work, which challenges traditional deficit based support models, shows a great potential to “revolutionise” support and change the homelessness system.

The Person-Led, Transitional and Strength Based (PTS) Response was developed by Mayday Trust following a huge transformation of services.  Once a conventional service provider within the social care sector, Mayday conducted a series of deep listening exercises known as the Wisdoms Series, inviting those within and working closely with their services to reflect the reality of their experiences.  The results uncovered the systematic institutionalisation of people trying to access services, anchoring people in their area of weakness, leaving them unable to create sustained, positive change for themselves.  Mayday Trust took radical action, transforming their services to become person-led, releasing housing stock and focussing on relationships first.

The PTS Response provides PTS Coaches to walk alongside people going through the toughest of times, creating an environment where people have choice and control over their lives and can move forward to the future they want.

Working with Coventry University Mayday Trust took their theory and developed an academic framework for others to learn from creating the PTS Qualification.

Through establishing a ‘New Systems Alliance’ the PTS Response is being adapted as a transformational framework by organisations across the UK who work with those facing tough times, such as homelessness.

The NEF Consulting report shows that the PTS is valued by those accessing the service, however learning is still ongoing as many reported systemic and organisational barriers to progress such as dealing with the local authority in accessing funding or a home; lack of safe housing, which led people to experience instability; and the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions, which also played a part in putting people’s aspirations “on hold”. The report shows too that the wider systemic culture around the housing sector, which contrasts markedly with the PTS asset-based approach, may also be undermining the PTS Coaches’ outcomes for the individuals.

Despite much of the research being conducted during COVID 19 restrictions respondents working with a PTS coach reported an increase in self-esteem, sense of purpose, and optimism. People also reported better mental health including feeling happier, and a reduction in anxiety. On average, by the time the coaching relationship ends, there is a demonstrable increase in wellbeing scores and people are starting to be closer to a ‘National Average’.

Respondents reported that the coaching relationship established trust through listening and the time invested in getting to know them was highlighted as the most important aspect of the support in terms of providing timely support and achieving outcomes.  Where a person-led approach was also taken when deciding when and how to end a coaching relationship, evidence showed this increased the chance of positive outcomes being more sustainable.

Alex Fox, CEO of Mayday Trust reflected on the report saying “The PTS Response is demonstrating a highly effective strengths-based approach to coaching people who are going through some of life’s toughest challenges.

The report shows that working in this way allows people more dignity, control and positivity in the process.

The evidence, that the PTS Coaches struggle sometimes to work alongside people in more traditional services, is one of the main reasons we created the New System Alliance, to take the principles of what we’ve learned in Mayday, and champion the change we want to see elsewhere across the UK.”

Operations Director at Changing Lives Neil Baird said “Changing Lives embrace strength-based practice and the PTS approach has been fundamental in our adoption of these principles. This report provides an important insight into the barriers still experienced by people who are facing challenges such as homelessness or addiction.”

NEF Consulting launched the report on their website today referring to the PTS Response as ‘A New respond to homelessness; evidencing the need for a sector wide shift

The NEF Consulting report can be accessed here.