CEO’s words of honesty picked up by #YesSheCan movement

Earlier this week our CEO wrote candidly about her battle with anorexia.

After a trending in #mentalhealth on LinkedIn the blog brought the attention of talent recruiters for the #YesSheCan movement.

#YesSheCan is a forward-thinking, progressive movement aiming to readdress the gender balance by giving women the platform to chase the job and career of their dreams, alongside supporting businesses to find amazing talent within our community.

Have a look here

Stay humble, folks! What it takes to work for Harmless

People often ask us what it is that we are looking for within our staff team. Obviously we recruit for a high calibre of individuals who demonstrate a range of high skills and qualifications in the particular field. But is that all that interests us at Harmless?

The answer is quite simply, no!

Harmless isn’t your average workplace. It was established by people who have lived experience of mental distress and whilst we are very clearly not a peer support organisation but we are is an organisation that looks for human qualities in the staff team that we employ.

After years and years of recruiting processes it is easy to see the candidates that stand out from the rest and this is not because they tell us how proficient they will be at their roles or that they have tens of years of clinical experience working with a specific group of people.

No, it is in how they reveal their personalities to us when we meet them. It is in the appropriateness of the stories they tell us and it is in the human qualities that we are looking for.

You cannot do work in this area unless you have compassion and compassion in bucketloads. There is more to it than that because our team must be strong, they must be innovative, and above all else they must be humble.

We do not recruit individuals. We recruit team members and so each person we meet is configured into how the team already exists and what the team needs to be next.

If we do not have teams we do not have anything – stay humble, folks!

We get to work with some beautiful humans… are you one of them?

Harmless is a service that’s just a little bit different.

We do awesome work. We’re not perfect. But we work super hard to meet the needs of our clients with thriving compassion and it’s a privilege.

Our work is not possible without the support of our stakeholders, our courageous clients, our compassionate staff and also the support of those who champion our work.

It’s time that we tell you about our champions now, too – the very special people that support us, give us courage, remind us we are doing ok and help us raise the profile and funds for our work.

Here’s someone for you to meet.

Pam is our friend and colleague. She always leaves us with a smile, makes us feel like we are a little bit special, always hopeful, and she always shares our work.

These things are more valuable than we can find words for.

Pam, you are our champion and we love you.

Please read more about her work and career here

In the news: Eating disorders soaring amid warnings over impact of social media

Eating disorders are soaring with almost 20,000 people a year being admitted to NHS hospitals, amid concern that social media is fuelling a growing crisis.

Children below the age of nine are among those being sent for in-patient treatment, the official figures show, with a sharp rise also seen among among pre-teens.

Experts warned that social media is driving a rise in such disorders, with the proliferation of deadly forums promoting anorexia, and messages advocating “clean eating” and the pursuit of the perfect body.

To read the full article, please click the following link:

Who is Harmless, what do we do?

Harmless is our parent company and we are a Community Interest Company. This means we operate very much like a charity but with a lot of dedication to a sustainable business model.

Harmless provides our self harm pathway. This is direct access work to people of all ages and their carers that do (or are at risk of) self harm.

We see about 70/30 female:male split in this particular service and provide clinical support workers and therapists that work with people either independently or together to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Our recovery rates in this aspect of our work are great and our re referral rates are 0.04%, so when people leave they don’t need to come back.

There’s hope.

People get better.

Wanna get in touch, drop us an Email

Colin Menz is the team leader for this pathway and we operate in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. 

“Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. “

Wise words from Philip Pullman, who received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2005:

Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. If you don’t give a child food, the damage quickly becomes visible. If you don’t let a child have fresh air and play, the damage is also visible, but not so quickly. If you don’t give a child love, the damage might not be seen for some years, but it’s permanent.

But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.

It’s true that some people grow up never encountering art of any kind, and are perfectly happy and live good and valuable lives, and in whose homes there are no books, and they don’t care much for pictures, and they can’t see the point of music. Well, that’s fine. I know people like that. They are good neighbours and useful citizens.

But other people, at some stage in their childhood or their youth, or maybe even their old age, come across something of a kind they’ve never dreamed of before. It is as alien to them as the dark side of the moon. But one day they hear a voice on the radio reading a poem, or they pass by a house with an open window where someone is playing the piano, or they see a poster of a particular painting on someone’s wall, and it strikes them a blow so hard and yet so gentle that they feel dizzy. Nothing prepared them for this. They suddenly realise that they’re filled with a hunger, though they had no idea of that just a minute ago; a hunger for something so sweet and so delicious that it almost breaks their heart. They almost cry, they feel sad and happy and alone and welcomed by this utterly new and strange experience, and they’re desperate to listen closer to the radio, they linger outside the window, they can’t take their eyes off the poster. They wanted this, they needed this as a starving person needs food, and they never knew. They had no idea.

That is what it’s like for a child who does need music or pictures or poetry to come across it by chance. If it weren’t for that chance, they might never have met it, and might have passed their whole lives in a state of cultural starvation without knowing it.

The effects of cultural starvation are not dramatic and swift. They’re not so easily visible.

And, as I say, some people, good people, kind friends and helpful citizens, just never experience it; they’re perfectly fulfilled without it. If all the books and all the music and all the paintings in the world were to disappear overnight, they wouldn’t feel any the worse; they wouldn’t even notice.

But that hunger exists in many children, and often it is never satisfied because it has never been awakened. Many children in every part of the world are starved for something that feeds and nourishes their soul in a way that nothing else ever could or ever would.

We say, correctly, that every child has a right to food and shelter, to education, to medical treatment, and so on. We must understand that every child has a right to the experience of culture. We must fully understand that without stories and poems and pictures and music, children will starve.

“Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. “

My reflections on last nights ball, by Caroline

Last night Darren and myself attended the Nottingham chartered accountant student society ball. This was a large scale dinner event, black-tie, that hosted approximately 500 attendees.

We had the privilege of being invited as one of the supported charities for the committee to raise money for.

Little did I know when I accepted the dinner and speaker invite that I would be addressing such a large audience.

For those who know me I often end up, as CEO of Harmless, in some rather random and obscure situations.

It has become a little bit of a joke because I have come to understand that my role is so varied that we never really know what is coming next. However, I do experience high rates of anxiety in the attendance of such events because in my words I hold the power to either engage or disengage an audience and that responsibility terrifies me.

I am often asked what suicide prevention looks like.

Sometimes it looks like my frontline staff providing the dedicated support to people in distress to ensure that they are safe and well.

Sometimes it looks like me in a ballgown attending a black-tie dinner, addressing an audience of 500 people from the corporate world who would not be expecting to be listening to someone talk about suicide and wellness and mental health in the workplace.

Whilst it was an absolute privilege to attend such a wonderful dinner it is also part of the work and for me, when I stand in front of an audience of that size, the enormity of the responsibility I have really dawns on me – but I do it anyway!

Suicide prevention, as I said last night in my speech, starts with a conversation. It starts with daring to ask your colleague how they are really doing. It starts with reaching out for help when you feel then maybe none.

It starts when you listen to a random woman standing at the front of a large room, shaking with anxiety, telling you to reach out.

Thank you to all of those who took the time to come and thank us for our attendance and for telling me how my words had impacted you on your own personal journeys. I use the word privilege a lot, but privilege is exactly what it is to have others share with you there courageous and vulnerable stories of distress, recovery and hope. I thank you for sharing those stories with me and I will always be humbled by people’s willingness to do so.

I hope that this is yet another endeavour that will reach people who would otherwise not have been reached and start another conversation about workplace well-being that Harmless can be a part of in 2020.

Wanna hear something awesome about our conference?

We are being joined by our International colleague Katrina Jaworski from the University if Southern Australia at our forthcoming women’s conference in Female Suicide.

Joining us to talk about the use of language and invalidation she will be teaming up with our CEO Caroline Harroe to run an exciting workshop on these themes.

Katrina says:

I’m a social philosopher. My research moves between cultural studies, continental philosophy, gender studies and sociology. I’m deeply passionate about researching the agency of suicide, with a focus on the body, gender, sexuality and/or ethics. My research extends to the philosophy of death and dying bodies, as well as Rwandan genocide, violent extremism, older men and urban private sheds, cultural politics of thinking, women in higher education, and pop-up economies. When not in my current position as an Associate Head of School: Research, I am a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies. I love teaching cultural studies because I see the discipline as applied philosophy.

This is a unique opportunity to join these renowned speakers in a feminist focused discussion about language and its meaning for women in the mental health system.

To book a place at the conference, click here

Read more of Katrina’s work here

Our team attending black tie event to raise life saving funds

Tonight Caroline and Darren will be attending the Nottingham chartered accountants student society annual ball.

We have been chosen by NCASS as one of the two charities that they will be supporting and as such the senior management team will be excitedly attending this prestigious black tie event tonight and have the privilege of addressing the audience.

Caroline, our CEO says:

“it is a real privilege each time I am given the opportunity to speak to a new cohort of people. We appreciate every moment of people’s time that we are given in order that we raise their awareness of the needs around mental health, self harm, and suicide. I see every conversation as an opportunity to save a life and whilst tonight is an unorthodox time you might expect, to achieve such a thing, I will use this opportunity to talk of our amazing work and how each and every one of us can save lives.”

Keep an eye out on social media and we will be sure to update you with photos and news as to how the event has gone.