I joined KIND back in March 2018 and since then it’s not an exaggeration to say that quite literally everything has changed in my life. The last few years have felt like a roller-coaster. Unlike a roller-coaster however, this was a ride that I wanted to be on and one that I needed to go on. The analogy has more depth. A roller-coaster has highs and lows, and this journey has had that in abundance, mainly highs, but it wouldn’t be the true reality if I only shared the highs with you. Moreover, a roller-coaster is best enjoyed with friends or family, and like so, my journey over the last few years would not have been possible without the amazing groups of friends, family, and colleagues that have supported me from day one, picked me up when I was down, and have kept me going during adversity.
As humans we tend to focus on that one negative, amid many positives but I’m not going to do that today. This blog is intended to celebrate what we have done at KIND. To do that, I want to take you back to the start…
In all honesty, I rarely take the time to reflect, so I thank you for giving me a reason to do just that.
When did I first hear about CALM?
I will always remember, and it was a day that changed so much. 28th March 2018, I was commuting into central London, one month into my new role at KIND. Our office at the time was based on the Southbank.
I was in a rush, I went straight to the top floor of our shared office space, and if you can imagine a glass panoramic window that wrapped the building. I looked out and there in front of me was what appeared to be people standing on the roof of the ITV Tower building. My heart sank. My chest tightened. I quickly realised that these were not real people, as they weren’t moving. I typed ‘people on ITV Tower building’ into my web browser and it was in that split moment where it all hit me.
This was an activation from Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). This was #Project84. 84 reflective of the number of men who take their own lives every single week in the U.K. The statues on the rooftop were representations of real people who had sadly died by suicide. The statues were created by friends and family who had all lost a loved one.
I started to read the stories that were shared, as part of the #Project84 campaign and it struck me – for over a decade I had hidden the biggest part of me from everyone that I met.
I sadly lost my father to suicide at the age of 12 and ever since that moment I decide to not talk about it, in fact I often made up a lie to anyone new that I met, just to avoid the conversation and to ever expose the reality of my childhood.
In all honesty, I felt ashamed up until the 28th March 2018. Hearing the stories of other people who have also suffered, who had the same unanswered questions and have experienced pain like me, showed me that I didn’t need to keep this a secret anymore. The work of CALM installed an energy in me, and I knew that I wanted to drop the façade. I channeled as much energy as I could into making sure that nobody else ever would have to suffer in silence.
KIND’s partnership with CALM
It was a moment where everything aligned. I realised at an early stage how lucky I am to be working for a company that supports me to be open personally, but also has my back to make a big difference to our wider workplace and communities.
For me, it is the people that make a workplace and I’m blessed to work with so many people who have created a culture of care. My colleagues, but I’d rather use the term friends, played a significant role in me first speaking about mental health. I wouldn’t have started on this journey if it wasn’t for them.
We have now officially partnered with CALM to raise funds, so that the charity can continue answering lifesaving calls on their helpline. Throughout 2021, we will be raising funds through various activations, all in aid of CALM.
In terms of the campaign itself, I think it’s fair to say 2020 was a difficult year for us all. But while the world seemed to pause, we saw that kindness most certainly continued. This is at the heart of our campaign; we want kindness to continue. We’re encouraging the nation to strengthen their mental health by exercising kindness.
We believe that kindness is at the heart of our individual and collective mental health. We believe that small acts of kindness can not only support our own mental health, but that of those around us too.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that being kind is one of the best ways to support mental health, but this fact isn’t widely discussed in culture. What we also know is that the work of CALM is so important right now, so we are keen to amplify CALM’s voice throughout our activations this year.
I think in the early stages, I didn’t do a great job in managing my own energy. There is a fine line. You want to drive the agenda forward, but you need to make sure you’re being kind to yourself. For me, it’s about holding myself accountable and making sure that I’m managing my energy to the best of my ability (that too is far from perfect, but I’m doing my best). Sometimes there needs to be a reality check – ‘practice what you preach’.
I’m lucky to have such amazing colleagues – the wider team do a great job in driving this agenda forward. For it to be a movement that is going to have impact, it needs to be a group effort. Also, it’s important to have senior leaders who are advocates and we certainly do have that.
This is only the start at KIND. We have recently launched our partnership with Pieta House in Ireland. Pieta provide free counselling to those with suicidal ideation, those engaging in self-harm, and those bereaved by suicide. Staff are fully qualified and provide a professional one-to-one therapeutic service. We hope to partner with more amazing mental health charity partners across the world. Watch this space.
Please remember, if you need to talk to someone, CALM offer a free, confidential helpline, every single day, from 5pm to midnight – 0800 58 58 58.
Or if you’re based in Ireland, Freephone Pieta on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444.
For 24 hour support, text Shout to 85258
Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email: email@example.com