Business leaders from all over Norfolk gathered at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind and Great Yarmouth and Waveney Mind on International Mandela day, Friday the 18th of July. The event, masterminded by Ian Hacon, founder of Yellow Brick Road, the new Conscious Leadership Business, saw around 30 business leaders giving help and advice to Mind on how they could better run their business. It was also an opportunity to find out much more about the great work Mind does, and in particular how they can help with issues around mental health in the workplace. Many of the business people in the room charge for their time professionally. These ranged from Learning and Development companies, financial support, solicitors, IT specialists, business leaders and bankers. If these organisations were to charge Mind for their time, most would charge many hundreds of pounds for a day’s support. Having worked with many of them previously Ian Hacon totted up their charge out rates to come to the £20,000 total, which does not include any ongoing commitment beyond Friday’s event.

Stuart Bennett, Deputy CEO of Great Yarmouth and Waveney Mind said “Great Yarmouth & Waveney Mind works with and supports people who are or have been experiencing poor mental health. We really valued the insight that Yellow Brick Road and the business leaders brought to bear on our future planning. In these challenging times for the voluntary sector, the day was a fabulous opportunity for our staff, management and Trustees, to avail ourselves of the marketing and promotion expertise provided by a range of business leaders. We found the day most helpful and would like to take this opportunity to wish Yellow Brick Road every success in the future.”

Amanda Hedley, CEO of Norwich and Mid Norfolk Mind echoed these thoughts, adding “We were privileged to have Ian and other business leaders giving us their valuable skills and knowledge and insight into how we could improve our business – it was inspiring, challenging and energising. We are delighted that the work will continue with some of the participants wishing to continue to actively help us in the coming months – we are very grateful for the support.”

The day started with a Video Conference call between the two groups and a welcome from Ian Hacon. Mind then gave a full presentation of their services and challenges. The delegates, assisted by a professional facilitator, then went on to debate the issues with Mind and suggest potential solutions. The two groups then shared learning via Video Conference again before Ian Hacon then officially launched Yellow Brick Road with a presentation on its ethos and products (firstly in Great Yarmouth then moving onto Norwich). By the end of the day both groups had offered some real challenge and advice to the charity.

Ian Hacon commented “The day could not have gone any better, delegates described both the excellent services and the challenges as “jaw dropping” and were quick to offer fabulous advice. What was really amazing was how most offered further support to continue to move forward the agenda beyond the day. Nearly everyone offered to be involved in follow activities in Norwich and two of the delegates in Yarmouth offered to become much needed Trustees. We could not have hoped for better outcomes.”

Given the close links in Yellow Brick Road’s Creating Leadership ViTALiTi programme to the workplace mental health work completed by Mind they were an obvious partner for this event. Ian was keen that the event was a “force for good” so launching by helping Mind was the right choice over a traditional cocktails and PowerPoint launch. He went on to say “Yellow Brick Road is Conscious Leadership Business and we practice every value we preach, including looking at our local community as a key stakeholder in our business. We are hopeful to turn this into an annual event to continue to help Mind or other local charities in this way.”

Help pledged

The delegates pledged help with most areas within the charity. This included help with sales and marketing, websites and social media, IT support, leadership training and coaching, help with finances as well as general advice and further facilitation. Yellow Brick Road are now assisting Mind in pulling all this support together and maximising the return from the day.

Young People

The day also gave an opportunity to 3 young people to engage with the day, two high school students came along for the day, one as part of her work placement and one as part of her enrichment week. They were also joined by 20 year old Matthew Potter who was there in a professional capacity to capture photos and videos of the day. Ian first met Matthew in July 2014 when he was a student at Norwich City College he filmed the launch of Zaks when Ian was CEO of Zaks parent, Blue Sky Leisure.

Spurred on from that day, Matthew went onto set up his own MP Photography and Videography. As a result of the day Matthew picked up four further leads. Matthew’s video of the day will be available shortly.