L’enterprise des Possibles

Watching French24 tv, I was heartened by the amazing work French billionaire Alain Merieux has achieved. He set-up L’enterprise des Possibles or Company of Possibilities just two years ago.

In the interview he explained why he chose to set-up this initiative up at the age of 80. Looking back to his childhood – which many of us seem to do as we get older, he noticed there was no homeless when he was a child. People shared what they had and took care of each other. Over recent years, he noticed that caring and sharing has been lost and homelessness is everywhere. The same could be said of countries around the world.

Alain’s idea was to join businesses with homeless charities. Companies and their employees could donate their time, annual leave or volunteer for the charities to make a real long-term difference.

Over the two years L’enterprise des Possibles has been operating, 60 companies have signed up raising over €1.1m and housing 550 people in Leon alone. One of these was a Congalese asylum seeker and her two young children who had been sleeping in fear wherever they could find space in the three years they had been in France. Now she proudly showed the news team around her chalet provided by L’enterprise des Possibles and spoke of her feeling of safety now. One of seven chalets she and her children now had a real support network in which to flourish and rebuild their lives.

The calmness on her face and positivity for the future was inspiring. The woman and her family had literally nothing. Now they have peace, security and a future – how rich is that?

Just as inspiring is Alain. Most 80+ people would be looking inwards, not what they could do for others. In the week that Captain Sir Tom Moore sadly died we are reminded of the amazing difference someone can do, no matter their age or ability, to make a difference and inspire others on what is truly the richness of life.

Making a positive difference when you don’t even know it….

Earlier this week I was contacted by someone who had been selected to take part in Growing Talent in 2019.  Growing Talent is an employment empowerment programme I run, which has been on hold since March 2020 due to Covid (www.growing-talent.co.uk).  

At the time they had many personal pressures to deal with which had reduced their self-confidence to an all-time low whilst greatly increasing their anxiety – exhausting as we all know.

They worked hard to complete the Orientation Week – confidence building workshops – prior to going on the employer’s site working well with their peers on team and individual challenges.  Gradually shoots of growing self-confidence started to appear.  More importantly, a smile returned to their face.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t maintain the routine of work back in 2019 and left before completing the programme.  This made their contact this week even more thought provoking.

They have been a carer for over a year working extensive shifts caring for the vulnerable is tough enough for anyone let alone doing this role in the middle of a global pandemic.  The people this person supports all have varying stages of dementia – challenging for individuals, family, friends and carers.

Finding the strength to make decisions and changes in their personal life took massive courage.  With everything going on, they still put others first and decided to move into the care home to support their peers and residents as much as possible.  Unfortunately, they got Covid themselves and had to self-isolate.  Now the residential care home is currently Covid free – a big relief for all.

As I’m reading all of this information they sent, my pride and admiration swelled.  Their growth from 2019 to now is inspirational.  The reason they wanted to get in touch now was to not only share their journey but thank me for my teachings.

Anyway, my point is, that, no way could I have gotten through the turmoil of Covid in a Dementia Care home and self-loathing induced by personal pressures if it hadn’t been for your teachings and even that week of lessons really in prep for growing talent. Thank you for the lessons, thank you for the courage and the self-belief you instilled in me, before I could really believe in myself’.

As a trainer/facilitator passionate about encouraging people and businesses to be the best they can, I often wonder about those who aren’t ready to move forward.  I know see, even instilling a short time of self-belief and proactive personal nurturing makes a difference to them long term.

What’s the point in sharing this with you?  To share we may not always know the outcome of something we do – that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful and positive.

Never stop trying to do what you know is right.  You are having a bigger, positive impact than you may realise.

Business – time to disrupt mental health training for something new…..


“This course gives you the knowledge and courage to ask those difficult questions regarding your own and others mental health. Knowing what I know now, I am very comfortable to help not only myself but those around me”, Conor. 

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As businesses we know how important it is to have a healthy, inclusive workplace where staff can thrive. A business that makes positive mental health and wellbeing training part of their DNA will get commitment, higher productivity, increased brand reputation and increased bottom lines. But, it has to be the right training! Especially in the time of Coronavirus uncertainty.

Training costs money. It’s pointless running reactivate courses that don’t deliver the results required. Time to disrupt the norm……

I’ve worked in the Mental Health, Wellbeing and Inclusive Employment fields for many years. I still see a fear within businesses – large and small – to address positive mental health training for all staff.

Traditionally, non-accredited training – either a half day awareness level, one day champion level or two day ‘first aider’ course is selected by businesses without considering some key facts:

  1. These courses are reactive – useful only when a problem has arisen
  2. Being non-accredited by a regulatory body or a respected Institute – what real meaning do they have?
  3. One of the largest providers in this field only licences their instructors to deliver in their local area – not nationally nor internationally meaning there is no uniform of delivery for national/international businesses.

I’ve been hugely impressed by this innovative programme because of it’s standout features. Some of the key ones are:

  1. It has over 50 self care tools to ensure we look after ourselves and those around us
  2. Designed specifically for the workplace – not only is it proactive in promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, it debunks myths, gives countless tools and guidance to build a mentally healthy workplace tying in with Health and Safety Executive tools as well as legislation responsibilities – it gives real confidence to those undertaking the training to break down the wall of social and society stigma which directly impacts the workplace.
  3. Accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists gives it real meaning and substance.
  4. The same instructor can deliver nationally and internationally giving uniform training.

“Excellent course to do. A very relevant and important course to do in these times. The skills learnt on this course could help you to intervene and save someone’s life.” Robert

Interested in knowing more? Contact me.

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Does mental health, wellbeing and resilience training make a real difference to a business’s bottom line?

Absolutely.  This has been proven time and again in various research reports in delivering added value to bottom lines, brand reputations and staff retention. It’s more relevant and vital to business operations in the Coronavirus/Covid-19 era.

Of course, you have to ensure you implement the right training otherwise the impact made to your bottom line, brand reputation and staff retention could be negative!

I’ve been working in this field for over a decade now.  I’m often asked what course I would recommend.  See the table below for some key features of three training programmes I deliver.

Featurei-actFAA levels 1,2,3MHFA England
Proactive – designed to prevent mental ill healthYesNoNo
Specifically designed for the workplaceYesNoNo
Accredited course for delegatesYesYesNo
Over 50 tools for self- care/building resilienceYesNoNo
Signposting to professional helpYesYesYes
Delivered virtually or classroomYesYesYes
Instructors can deliver nationallyYesYesNo

I’ve been so impressed by i-act’s proactive standpoint of aiming to prevent mental ill health in the workplace, vast array of self-help tools as well as tools to evaluate and develop skills of those delivering first stage support, that after 12 years as a MHFA England Instructor, I will no longer be delivering their products.  

For employers who do like a formal, first aid approach to mental health, the FAA Levels 1, 2 and 3 deliver Ofqual regulated accreditation on the same three adult programmes MHFA England offers – half day awareness, one day champion and two-day first aider.

In this day and age, it’s more important than ever for employers to select the right product for their environment and team.  Having the choice between accredited/non accredited and proactive/reactive training enables them to make this choice confidently and cost effectively.

200 hours completed!

Around May 2019, I saw a news feature with Duke & Duchess of Cambridge launching the 24/7 UK crisis text line Give Us A Shout.

The idea seemed simple and brilliant. Mobile providers waived their fees for texts to this service. Anyone struggling with their emotions from feeling lonely to idealation to complete suicide, any age, could text the word SHOUT to 85258 and get help to take them from a hot moment to a cool calm.

As a completely text service 24/7, those struggling didn’t have to overcome fear or anxiety of speaking to someone via a telephone line. Nor did they have to take part in a video call.

Completely anonymous.

This idea peaked my interest. The new launch was to engage with volunteers to train to go on the platform and support. The training was long and intense.

A coach is assigned from joining Give Us A Shout until a volunteer decides to leave.

This wrap around support for texters and volunteers is unique so I applied and thankfully was accepted.

Starting off as a baby chick (new volunteer) I could only take one texter at a time. The commitment is to give 200 hours to the platform before deciding to leave.

That target seemed light years away and completely unattainable. However, I received the following email from my Coach – I didn’t even realise I passed the landmark!

Congratulations on having spent 200 hours on the Platform.

Thank you for giving so much of your time and empathy to our texters. We really appreciate every second you’ve spent with us on the Platform…….720,000 seconds to be exact!

I’m sure that when you made a commitment to do 200 hours of volunteering with Shout it seemed almost unattainable, and yet you have made that commitment a reality and for that we are all so grateful to you.

We look forward to you continuing to support texters and other Shout Volunteers with your invaluable experience for many more hours to come.

My plan is to continue volunteering as long as I can for this unique service. Feedback shows me, it really makes a difference to those struggling.

I always teach people I work with ‘Never look at big targets. They always feel unattainable. Instead, look at bite sized steps. You’ll soon achieve your end goal and learn so much along the way.’

I know I have.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, no matter the time of day or night or issue that’s on your mind, text the word SHOUT to 85258. Help is there. You don’t need to go on any struggle alone.

Happy Sad Man by Genevive Bailey

I came across this film on Eventbrite. A two part event from Australia.

Genevive is a film maker from Bondi Beach, Australia who has spent years making this documentary. If follows a group of men – all ages and backgrounds in their journey through the ups and downs of mental ill health and their strength in finding ways to make a difference to others.

I’ve been interested in mental ill health and wellbeing for many years and seen diverse projects/films/discussions trying to capture the stigma and loneliness felt by those living with mental ill health – none touched this film.

The sensitivity, respect and inclusion Genevive showed, John, Jake, Grant, David, Ivan, Dave and their families/friends conveyed the real range of emotions felt. The passage of time from the 50s/60s to today hasn’t demolished the stigma mental ill health causes. Still a taboo subject.

It’s always struck me – where does this stigma come from? We aren’t born with it. If we’ve learned it, we can surely unlearn it? Why does the mind scare us so much that we feel unable to say ‘hey, how are you feeling? I’m really concerned about you’….. The mind is just part of the body. We wouldn’t fear asking ‘how’s you leg? healed ok?’.

Happy Sad Man tells the story of a group of men. An emotional awakening of understanding on how these men feel on their rollacoaster journeys. Little gems are littered throughout the films. Grant’s synergy of living with mental ill health is like a recipe. You have to balance everything. Using fluorescent colours to start a conversation on Bondi Beach about mental health every Friday morning at 6.30am. Flouro Friday is now on 200 beaches across 40 countries. Using bright clothes and surfing to spark a conversation. Can we adapt this idea to fit the communities we live in?

David’s wet dog perfume was another highlight. His goal wasn’t to make money but to get people smiling and talking.

Jake’s journey from film maker to war photographer was stark. Even in such dire circumstances he was able to teach children in Syria, Aleppo etc to skateboard and do the things that kids everywhere do. He also taught them how to make films on their mobiles to capture the environment they live in the the futility of war.

The overall message of hope was uplifting.

There is still time today to register on Eventbrite to watch this outstanding documentary and join the live Q&A session tomorrow.

You can follow Genevieve at:

www.facebook.com/happysadfilm
www.instagram.com/happysadfilm
www.twitter.com/happysadfilm

The benefits of virtual learning

For the 10+ years I’ve been a MHFAEngland Instructor, I’ve been looking for a mental health and wellbeing programme to deliver which was accredited by a qualifying body delivering real value rather than the usual courses that just end with a Certificate of Attendance.

I stumbled across http://www.i-act.co.uk who devised mental health and well-being products specifically for the workplace. Both courses come with a 168 page manual, 50 self-help tools to use and 95 referral organisations for different mental health issues.

Having done the manager’s course – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and WELLBeing – accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists with CPD points – I knew this was a key product which would deliver real value to my clients.

I decided to apply for the Instructor’s accreditation to deliver both the manager course and the ‘Understanding and Promoting Positive Mental Health and WELLbeing in the Workplace’ for non-management employees.

At the start of this week myself and others from all corners of the UK, Bahrain and Hong Kong met online with one of the co-founders Pete – a Clinical Psychiatrist and mine of information – also our Instructor. After watching Pete deliver, we then had to deliver the whole programme in our own style with a couple of peers giving feedback.

Solid connections were made. Messages of encouragement flowed over WhatsApp as we all became accredited instructors.

I now intend adding these two excellent courses to my portfolio of training to employers looking to ensure their staff at all levels are maintaining optimum levels of wellbeing duding real value to their bottom line and brand reputation.

The opportunities that open up when you least expect them can lead to incredible places.

Doing things differently – Carpe Diem!

When life throws you a curve ball, you can either crumple or run with it.  With the lockdown continuing and people’s strange new life continuing it seemed apt to change person-to-person training to virtual where possible.

 

A little sceptical of how good it could be, I was astonished how well received my first course was.  An informal discussion on coping with lockdown, the new challenges faced, new skills learned.  Working with 16 team members at all levels of management from ISS in London, the conversation, ideas and laughter flowed.  So what was the outcome?  You can see some of their feedback below – and they’ve booked more courses kicking off with the key steps to starting a conversation, managing it if dark thoughts emerge and self care – critical to building resilience

‘Jane is a first class facilitator, she makes each session impactful and enjoyable which is a really difficult balance to achieve, I would wholeheartedly recommend.’ Andy Ingham, National Operations Manager – This is great feedback for me as Andy was the client and is a facilitator himself.

‘Good, not too formal, interactive and encouraged all team to participate throughout.’ Alison

‘I got a lot from the session just by listening.’ Leon

‘Jane was very open, calm and keep the session flowing easily.  Jane felt like one of our team.’ Loraine

‘The information given on the session was perfect and it gave me the knowledge to look for signs and how to deal with difficult conversations especially where personal circumstances are concerned.’ Mark

 

So, if you are presented with an opportunity to do something different – don’t overthink it.  Definitely don’t let self-doubt in.  Tell yourself it will be a great experience and you will learn more about yourself doing it.  What’s the worse that can happen?

 

Courses coming up include:

 

  • It’s Not About The Nail – don’t try to fix what you think is the obvious
  • Create Your role in The Future
  • Creating Empowerment In Your Teams
  • Personal Empowerment

 

From June, the licensed global Mental Health First Aid full Adult course can be run online following MHFAEngland’s intensive collaboration with global partners to develop the new virtual programme.

 

As a Crisis Volunteer with Shout for the past year, I’ve seen how dealing with crisis via text messaging has literally saved lives.  Who would have thought texting could have such a positive impact?  Nancy Lublin the founder of Crisis Text Line in USA helped set-up Give us a Shout in the UK.  Along with HRH Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, Nancy spoke about why she started the text line.

    

 

Using text instead of phone lines enables people to gather their thoughts and reflect on what they are ‘writing’ in their texts.  They can also reflect back later on the empathetic responses from the crisis volunteer.  What Nancy discovered was those in fear of their lives from others could get help without being heard using a phone.  There are now crisis text lines springing up in more countries.  Mobile carriers waive the costs of texting to Shout in the UK so it’s accessible to all.  If you are in trouble – text Shout to 85258.

 

As an Associate Tutor with British Safety Council, many of their  courses including Start the Conversation, Management the Conversation, Train the Facilitator could be delivered online – something they are looking into.

 

We all need to think of how to do things differently.  This could be a fantastic opportunity.  We just need to not let doubt in.

 

Carpe Diem – Seize the day!

 

 

 

 

Is this a good or bad thing? – Mental Health under 18s at NHS A&E

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/04/mental-health-young-people-in-crisis-waiting-hours-for-ae-help?dm_i=52KI,4EIF,1OHPLR,FT3K,1

 

The above feature in The Guardian by Young Minds shows 13,567 under 18s accessed A&E departments in England alone over the previous year.

 

This suggests a number of things to me:

 

Stigma – the core reason people didn’t reach out for help when they needed it seems to be rescinding.  People – especially young people see mental health on a par with physical health.  This is surely a good thing as they are no longer suffering alone in silence.

England only – the 13,000+ quoted by Young Minds of under 18s is for England only.  I find this startling thinking of what the overall figures would be for the entire Union of Britain.

Right place? – is a busy, noisy A&E environment the right place for someone with mental health issues?  Especially if they experience an average of four hour wait time as the feature states.

 

Overall, I believe the rising stats show people who are suffering are no longer holding back on seeking help due to stigma.  This shows how far we have come as part of humanity is busting the myths and stigma surrounding mental health.

 

There are a growing number of dedicated charities with bespoke experience in supporting all ages, backgrounds and cultures.  Some have 24/7 services including text lines or phone lines.  I think one of the key missing pieces of information is a knowledge of the applicable charities available.  These should be advertised everywhere – schools, colleges, doctors, dentists, opticians, supermarkets, job centre plus offices absolutely everywhere people go.  Giving people a menu of options enables them to select what might be the most suitable for them and reduce the pressure on A&E hospital services.

Some charities I know that might help you/those you know are below.  Why not keep a few in your mobile ? – you never know when you might need them:

 

Give Us a Shout – 24/7 Crisis Text time – text Shout to 85258

Young Minds – website with signposting resources for young people and their parents – http://www.youngminds.org

Place 2 Be – website – resources for school children – http://www.place2be.org.uk

Campaign Against Living Miserably – web chat and helpline manned 5pm-midnight http://www.thecalmzone.net

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Health – when do we start teaching it?

The conversation has been getting bolder and louder over the part decade or so on Mental Health.  Businesses are now putting in place some training around starting and managing a conversation when a change is noticed.  We know a lot about self-care and the importance of observing our self-care techniques as ‘non-negotiable’.

 

However, with the report published below, we can see how earlier intervention is essential. Check out the link below… the stats are shameful.

 

https://news.sky.com/story/teachers-to-work-with-nhs-to-support-mental-health-of-young-people-in-schools-11761403

 

1 in 9 of children in full-time education aged 5 to 15  has a diagnosable mental health condition.  Maybe read that again.

 

In 2017 there were 226 recorded suicides of people in full-time education including primary schools.  Again – shocking.

 

We know education about road safety has reduced road deaths.  We know regular brushing of our teeth reduces teeth decay.  We start learning these things at home before we’ve event gone to school.

 

Shouldn’t parents be talking openly to their children about feelings, kindness to others, it’s ok not to feel ok and it’s a strength to alway talk about our feelings?  Surely this would start to normalise mental health.

 

Of course not every parent is equipped to provide this guidance.

 

Schools have a lot on their curriculum.  Considering the huge cost to society, business, NHS, communities, families etc, isn’t it now worth making part of Ofsted’s school inspection look at the provision of mental health resources in our schools to nourish the future generations making them more robust in dealing with life issues?

 

The earlier the intervention the better the recovery.

 

Do we make a difference now or wait for the time bomb to stop ticking and just explode?

 

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