Rather than dive into a plethora of mindless diatribe, I am fortunate that one of my friends, in journalism, kindly steered me on how to introduce myself. So this is who I am… or do I have to say about me?
This, basically, is my excuse for still presenting diatribe, but professionally advised diatribe…
Who are you… in no more than 5 bullet points?
- Ambassador for Mind, the mental health charity
- InsideOut Leaderboard role model
- Marathon runner (36 marathons and 5 ultras as of December 2018)
- HR Director at BenevolentAI
- Very happy wife, son and friend
- A child of God
And you REALLY are doing TWENTY marathons in 2020?
Well no! I postponed the campaign due to the Covid pandemic… BUT will now be running 21 marathons in 2021 instead. Find out about #21in2021 here!
I’m supporting 4 great causes in Mind, the Running Charity, Lupus UK and Football Beyond Borders.
So you’re a Mental Health Ambassador… what does that mean?
It sounds a bit formal, right? It really isn’t, let me explain… In short, I am involved in campaigns around mental health awareness and wellbeing and do a lot of work in the workplace wellbeing space. Recent examples include:
- The Heads Together FA Cup Final and the #TakeAMinute campaign, the latter of which saw all of the FA Cup Third Round ties delayed by a minute to play a film around mental health. As well as appearing in the film and campaign, I did a number of interviews and features to publicise its launch, notably with Sky News and ITV.
- I have also been privileged to work with Mind on their partnership with the English Football League, speaking with guests and doing a feature with Sky News to publicise their On Your Side campaign.
Other media credits include…
- BBC Radio Five Live
- BBC Asian Network
- The Guardian
- Runners World UK
- Me and My Mental Illness (Channel 5 documentary which won a 2017 Mind Media Award)
So it’s all about the fame then??
Ha! Nope, the less publicity the better, but if I am going to put myself out there as a campaigner and advocate, that means sharing my story and often doing so in the most impactful way means in a public space.
What else is being an ambassador?
Essentially, being an ambassador means doing whatever I can to raise awareness, to give hope to those living through challenges, to challenge stigma and opinion where needed. This includes…
- Speaking to companies and giving keynote talks and presentations at corporate events. Some of the companies I’ve worked with include Flight Centre, Heineken, Anytime Fitness, Societe Generale, The Royal Academy of Arts, Dentons, Eiffage Kier and Accenture. I have spoken at This Can Happen in 2019 and am speaking soon at the Wellbeing @ Work Summit 2020.
- Speaking in schools and universities to encourage young people to openly learn more and speak about mental wellbeing.
- Raising cross-cultural awareness, particularly in Black and East Asian communities – I have spoken in churches, temples and synagogues among others (mental health doesn’t discriminate by race or religion!)
Can I Book You? Or should that be “Can you book me?”
Yes, please use the form on the contact page to discuss any events or projects which you think I can help you to impact.
I do have a full-time career so I am selective about the projects to which I commit, but my commitment is unparalleled once you have it.
Why do you want to share your thoughts and life on a website?
- I find writing to be very therapeutic, and it is a really great way to stimulate the mind and reflect on my own thoughts
- If I can impact on just one life through sharing my own experiences, it gives meaning to the road that I walked of mental illness and homelessness
- I hope I can inspire others to see way past their boundaries. Recovery is only the beginning of the journey, there is so much beyond.
What will you be writing about?
Whatever randomly comes into my mind? Although, this will likely consist of…
- Awareness and reflections around mental health and homelessness
- Food… I’ll not be sharing expertise but I can very easily give a good thumbs-up or down!
PS – I tend to find that running and food go hand-in-hand!!
Where do you do all of this?
- I do life very happily, with my wife, in SW London where you can typically find me running around the Commons of Clapham, Wandsworth and Tooting Bec, as well as along the river in and around Battersea Park
- Food happens where there’s a good promo (and often where there isn’t!)… and there are plenty of suitable venues to be found
- Work is in the West End of London
- I marathon wherever I can; I’ve so far run the iconic 26.2 miles in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the USA
- I’m from the wonderful city of Birmingham but have my real sense of home in Liverpool where I studied and have spent many wonderful days and nights with my lifelong bird, the Liver Bird of Liverpool Football Club
How do you…
Rate the progress being made around mental health awareness in the UK?
We’ve come a long way but not far enough. I love that we can now speak very openly around mental illness but there is still a real lack of resource and knowledge.
Simply put, two people will take their own life every hour in England and Wales, and that tells me that we still have a long way to go.
Manage to run 60+ miles per week, be a husband, and fit in a working day?
Easy, I run into work and often run back… it’s a lot cheaper than the Tube and much more relaxing!
Keep in shape and still be a big foodie?
I run 60+ miles a week… and then eat all of the things!
Describe the journey you’ve been on?
The work of God. How else can I describe a life transformed from the depths of suicide attempts and homelessness, a life without hope, to one where I am constantly filled with purpose and the hope that I can reach out and impact other lives.