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9th May, 2017

 

The Connection between Leadership and ‘Good Mental Health’

This week is mental health awareness week. A time for us to reflect on how we view mental health and how it impacts our lives. To quote the Mental Health Foundation from their report Surviving or Thriving? The state of the UK’s Mental Health

“Good mental health is an asset that helps us to thrive. It is not just the absence of a mental health problem but the ability to think, feel and act in a way that allows us to enjoy life and deal with the challenges it presents…Current levels of good mental health are disturbingly low…We have made great strides in the health of our bodies and our life expectancy, we now need to achieve the same for the good health of our minds…”

So mental health is not just about reducing the likelihood of issues such anxiety and depression, it is about equipping our minds with the ability to be happy and enjoy life!  

In my opinion, to work towards ‘good mental health’ in our society, it is necessary to understand feelings of happiness and how we have evolved to attain them. We then at least know its source and can work towards doing more of what makes us happy.

Cast yourself back 50,000 years. At our most basic level, human beings are equipped with a set of bio-chemical systems inside us that work to encourage us to do things that are in the interest of our survival as a collective. When we behave in a certain way that we believe will improve our chances of survival, our body rewards us with chemically induced feelings of happiness, pride, joy, love, fulfilment and other such feelings of that ilk.

We enjoy these feelings and we crave them, so we repeat the activity that gave us these feelings in the first place. The perfect formula for behaving in the interests of survival. This is why as a species we survived from the cave man days until now, because we are a collective animal that is very good at working together.

We associate working together with survival so we act together to experience those feelings we feel when we act as such. For example, 50,000 years ago when the cave man went out hunting and brought back food he felt pride, fulfilment and happiness, that he had contributed to the collective.

Feelings associated with contribution to the collective evolved as we did, so in the modern-day context, a mother and father who sees their child graduate from university, are filled with pride as they have raised and helped educate this child to contribute to society to further increase its chances of survival. A manager who has sacrificed a chunk of their time helping someone get a promotion at work will feel a sense of satisfaction in helping develop that individual who in turn will increasingly contribute to the survival of the collective, or in this context organisation or company.

Four major bio-chemicals determine feelings of ‘happiness’ and what role each of them plays in the actions and practices of the collective. These chemicals are: Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin.   

Endorphins and Dopamine:

Endorphins and Dopamine are what are often called the ‘selfish’ chemicals, in that you don’t need anyone’s help to get them. They are purely for self-gain, not necessarily at the expense of someone else but they could be.

The role of Endorphins are to mask physical pain. The Human animal evolved to endure. It felt good to hunt, tracking an animal on foot for hours and then finally make the kill. It is quite physically demanding but the endorphins masked the pain while the activity occurred and then lingered so they felt great straight after they had finished. This is what many runners in a modern context would call ‘the runners high.’ Because it felt so good to hunt, people would want that feeling again, so they would volunteer to hunt in the future. A perfect bio-chemical reward mechanism for ensuring people want to hunt and provide food for the collective.

In a modern, office-based workplace, an endorphin rush is difficult to achieve. People have to make a point of being physically active in the form of an ‘exercise session’ for an allotted amount of time and it doesn’t necessarily contribute to the survival of the collective. It is instead a necessity to ensure their own personal feelings of physical and mental wellbeing and survival. This is why it is so important to think of exercise as an essential part of not just physical fitness but mental wellbeing as well. In turn your over-all productivity will improve.         

Dopamine is the chemical you release when you have found something you are looking for or you accomplish something you set out to achieve. You achieve the goal, however big or small and you release dopamine. It is the chemical that ensures we complete the tasks we need to in order to survive. 50,000 years ago it meant that we went out looking for food before it was too late. This is why we also release dopamine when we eat.  

Overall, it helps us focus on our goals and keep progressing towards them, because with every step we take towards the goal that constitutes progress we also get a hit of dopamine. It often relates to things that are tangible, or things we can see. If a cave man saw a hog in the distance he would get a surge of dopamine. As he moved closer towards it (progress) he would get more. When he reaches it - target achieved. Another release. This feels good – we are ‘happy’. We want to repeat this activity so we feel happy again. Another great mechanism for survival.

This is why when setting goals they have to be things we can see. This is why people are more motivated to act when someone comes to them and says I want our company to be the North West’s leading provider of HR training for SME companies by 2020. That’s a goal you can see. If you sell £10,000 worth of stock this month you’ll get a £500 bonus. We can see that goal. It’s time bound, we have a visible target and you can easily track progress, whether it’s day by day or week by week. This is why ticking items off the to do list feels so good! We evolved to be visually orientated animals so we act to achieve this, especially (but not exclusively) if it involves the survival of the collective or in this context, the company. Because the survival of the company means everyone in our tribe thrives.     

Dopamine is highly addictive. There are a number of other things that help us release it: Alcohol, Mobile phones and Gambling to name a few! Alcohol and Gambling are already pretty well known, but more recently Mobile Phones have taken centre stage. This is a condition that we have seen worsen over the last 5-6 years, particularly now the smart phone becoming an integral part of our lives. When we get a text/Facebook like/Instagram follower/LinkedIN share etc… – we get a hit of dopamine. As such this has become a societal goal because it mimics a source of public validation. And because we’re social creatures we like this – it makes us feel happy. All the above (unless you work in digital marketing of course) don’t produce anything that is in the interests of survival, it actually means we have become better at getting distracted! It’s no coincidence that levels of ADD and ADHD have risen 66% in the last 10 years. We have developed an inability to get things done in a modern context because the allure of the dopamine hit from a more instant source like scanning your Facebook wall or immediately reading and responding to that text that made you feel happy, simply because you got it. To compound the issue further, it has actually begun to create a condition across society where feelings of inadequacy, depression and low self-esteem have developed as we start comparing our likes/followers and snap-shots of our lives to each-others. Some people have started to judge their self-worth based on their following compared to other people’s rather than any tangible human impact they have on those have formed close (offline!) relationships with. Younger generations have even admitted that they find it hard to form meaningful relationships with people. They struggle with the concept that meaningful relationships take time. Unlike those formed on social media which are instantaneous.    

Another area where dopamine becomes dangerous is in the selfish achievement of golas at others expense because the hit is so alluring. An example used before of the hitting of financial targets was used to demonstrate a visual goal, which is important to stimulate motivation, however we can get addicted to numbers in our companies. We hit our targets, we want more and more so we can feel happy in our accomplishments. In some situations this can produce a situation where people will do anything to get another hit sometimes at the sacrifice of their own resources and relationships. This is a large reason why the bankers caused the financial crisis!

So, when unbalanced, dopamine can actually become a dangerous, and addictive substance when not used in a controlled manner. Survival as an individual is entirely possible in today’s society, more so than 50,000 years ago. But when considering over-all happiness and well-being, we need more than just dopamine and endorphins to feel holistic fulfilment. While endorphins and dopamine will make us happy, they won’t necessarily produce that feeling of fulfilment or trust simply because of how we have evolved.

These are two feelings that would arguably make our workplaces greater and our teams perform better because of the combined effort and cooperation of the collective. This is where the other 2 happiness chemicals come into play: Oxytocin and Serotonin.

In everyone’s life, dangers and threats to your livelihood are a constant, you can’t change these or do anything about them. They simply exist whether you like it or not. 50,000 years ago it may have been an animal, the weather, another tribe – all things that are trying to end your life. The only way to survive was to work together so the human animal needed some incentive to work together. We thus naturally organised ourselves as a collective to face this external danger. It was very much a case of do or die. In a modern context, the danger could be terrorism, other companies trying to put you out of business or the uncertain economy. Again though, these are all things that are threatening your livelihood.

Inside the organisations we work in, the dangers are not a constant. They don’t need to be there. We can choose to create dangers within our organisations. Yet how many times have you gone to work and felt stressed because of someone in your own team? A manager may be taking credit for work you have clearly done, when you know for a fact they wouldn’t return the favour? You aren’t reaching your targets, but does anyone offer to help you or do they just let you fall behind because they want that promotion ahead of you. This is where the role of leaders and managers becomes so important in ensuring collective well-being.  

When we don’t work together and actively strive towards things that are in our own interests, sometimes at the expense of those we work with/who are part of our tribe, we are forced to use our own forces/energy to protect ourselves from both outside forces and each-other as well. That’s energy not invested in the primary function of the tribe/company which is the very thing you rely on to protect you from the external forces that will come whether you like it or not! Serotonin and Oxytocin chemicals are trying to prevent selfish action at the expense of others in your tribe, so as to encourage working as a collective and ensuring a better chance of survival.

Serotonin is the leadership chemical. It is responsible for pride and status. Public recognition is very important in the production of serotonin. This is why we have things like award ceremonies. Serotonin is an infectious chemical – those who are proud of you also get a surge of serotonin when they see that efforts they have put into your development come to fruition in the form of a publicly recognised achievement. It is trying to reinforce the relationship between the giver and receiver in whatever context: parent - child, boss - employee, coach- player, care giver and the one who is grateful for the support they are given. Great coaches are those who have a team that wants to win for them. They want to make the coach proud! We want to make our parents proud! We want to make our managers, employers proud.  

This chemical solved the issue of 100-150 people living in a community: it helped decide who eats first, and who eats last? Survival of the fittest would never be conducive to cooperation. You need trust between individuals, you need to know you’ve got someone’s back so nothing eats them. If we don’t trust who looks out for us, we won’t look out for them. To solve this issue, we evolved into hierarchical animals, arranging ourselves into those with certain talents and status, naturally and alpha will emerge who will be the leader of the tribe. There isn’t a standard for this -  it just depends on the needs of your community. So as the leader or alpha in the community you were rewarded with a hit of serotonin when you fulfil your duty, i.e. when danger threatened you protected.

There is a definite cost of leadership and this is self-interest. You don’t get to do less work when you get more senior you have to do more work in the interest of others. You have to fulfil the responsibility of the alpha! Leaders are supposed to sacrifice themselves for the collective. This is what makes us trust them and work for them. If they fulfil their duty, we don’t mind that they have the cave with the most shelter, the office with the better view, the higher pay-check. We resent these things when we feel they don’t fulfil their role. Leaders are bio-chemically encouraged to fulfil their role with the next chemical in question which is Oxytocin.  

Oxytocin is responsible for producing feelings of love and trust. It is the intense feeling of safety when you feel that someone or the collective has your best interests/survival at heart. A way of generating this feeling is through acts of human generosity, which is defined as giving your time and energy and expecting nothing in return. Time and energy come at a premium because they are an equal and non-redeemable commodity. Time doesn’t go slower or faster for different people based on status, so it is seen as more of a sacrifice. Money doesn’t work in giving us these feelings of trust. This is why dedicating your time to someone you manage at work would mean much more to someone than increasing their salary; in turn feelings of trust would develop between you as you know they are willing to sacrifice some of their time and energy to help you. This is why actual conversation rather than one over email is far more effective. One takes time and energy, the other doesn’t. People inherently appreciate this because of how we have evolved. In turn the person doing the giving/sacrificing gets an oxytocin hit. There’s more though… the great thing about oxytocin is that it is infectious. The person on receiving end has shot of oxytocin. People witnessing those acts of generosity also release oxytocin.

So, in conclusion It is all about the bio-chemistry of our bodies trying to get us to repeat behaviours that are in our best interest – behaviours that ensure the survival, safety and overall feelings of wellbeing within the collective. The chemical builds up in your system meaning the more acts you do, the more you want to do. Better still, oxytocin inhibits addiction, it boosts your immune system, it makes you healthier, it increases our ability to solve problems, and our creativity, and it isn’t addictive. These are the attributes that produce happy, high performing individuals and happy, high performing teams.

Oxytocin takes time to build up though, there is no quick fix. This is why we have to invest ever growing amounts of our time and energy into someone else to build that feeling of trust and belonging between those we are in contact with.

It’s amazing how it all boils down to simple biology! This is where company wide leadership strategy becomes so important in overall wellbeing, because when the company gets to a certain size there isn’t enough time to get around everyone in the organisation and create that bond and that feeling of belonging with everyone, this is where leaders and managers need to encourage others they come into physical contact with to form those same relationships with those that work in their teams. It is trust others to trust and therefore lead. Everyone becomes a leader and protects and looks out for those to the left and to the right of them.  

This creates that knowledge that everyone in the tribe/company is looking out for everyone else. You feel a lot safer and more secure in your work place knowing that everyone has your back. You would feel good about being a part of creating this feeling. You wouldn’t have to unnecessarily expend energy on protecting yourself from other within your tribe. Your organisation/your tribe will put more energy into ensuring the safety of the collective and the it’s continued advancement. Your business is more likely to thrive because your worker are happier, healthier, more able to solve problems efficiently in a more creative manner. It is the responsibility of leadership and management to create this culture of everyone within the company feeling the sense of belonging and trust and ensure it continues.       

Having summarised the four happiness chemicals, this leaves one other chemical that determines workplace wellbeing. CORTISOL. Cortisol produces the feelings of anxiety and panic. Again it is a survival chemical.

 We perceive a threat – it could be a predator, a rival tribe, mother nature. We jumps to attention, our hearts race and our muscles become ready to respond to the apparent need to fight or run. Survival of the collective again kicks in again because cortisol is a contagious chemical! It spreads to those in the immediate vicinity as a warning sign to ensure others get the message to respond accordingly.

Threats evolve. For example in the context of the workplace, a member of the team may come in and say, I hear they’re making company-wide redundancies. Their livelihood is immediately threatened, panic sets in and as a consequence, everyone in the vicinity releases cortisol. Cortisol shuts down secondary functions that in that moment are not required for us to survive. The body shuts down things like growth and our immune system. Acutley, this is not an issue, but sustained levels in our bodies and this shut-down continues.

Cortisol was never intended to be a lingering chemical, it was supposed to be SENSE DANGER – cortisol release – deal with danger – danger passes – out the system – return to normal function.

When a person works somewhere where they don’t feel safe or that feeling of belonging and trust, or where you feel like you have to protect yourself this produces a constant drip of cortisol in response to a perceived ever-present threat. This inhibits the release of oxytocin, meaning we biologically become less empathetic, more self-interested, less able to fight disease which in turn works to perpetuate the situation due to the survival mechanisms of collective panic in the face of danger. Feelings of individual and collective happiness and overall wellbeing understandably suffer greatly. Performance suffers. This situation only serves to reinforce itself making itself worse if nothings is done by means of intervention. It is the responsibility of leadership and management to ensure this situation does not occur.

So to summarise:

-          As Humans we have evolved to survive using bio-chemical mechanisms that help us to do this. The reward for actions that ensure this survival is the release of biochemical that produce generic feelings of happiness.

-          There are selfish chemicals that produce feelings of happiness for the self (Endorphins and Dopamine). These can be addictive however and dangerous when unbalanced.

-          The other two chemicals are Serotonin and Oxytocin. These are the leadership chemicals. Because we have evolved to survive as a collective our body rewards us with feelings of trust and belonging that aren’t addictive or destructive and are released when we act in the best interests of other that are part of our collective. As a by-product they produce a happier, healthier human being and a collective that is more likely to survive.

-          Cortisol is the stress chemical that induces panic and anxiety. It is contagious and spreads to other members of the collective when they witness an incidence of panic or anxiety. A good survival mechanism 50,000 years ago but works against us when in a chronic state of panic because of a non-collaborative workplace culture where we don’t feel safe. It inhibits the release of oxytocin, makes us more self-interested, less empathetic, less creative and will make us ill! It perpetuates the situation it created in the first place.

-          It is the duty of leaders and managers to create the environment of belonging throughout the company so that all members of your tribe/organisation/collective work for each-other and bio-chemically condition themselves and each-other for healthy, happy, high performance.

So when considering good mental health, particularly in the context of the workplace, but even in society as a whole, we cannot underestimate the importance of looking out for each-other and taking time to build meaningful relationships and trust. Protect those to the left and the right of you and not only will you be rewarded with the knowledge that others are more likely to look out for you making you feel safe and like you belong, but you will be bio-chemically rewarded with feelings of fulfilment. By all means achieve your goals, but help others to achieve theirs too.

Not to move shamelessly into a sales pitch, but this plays massively into JCI’s hands! We all work with each-other to achieve a collective goal. We aren’t paid, we just give up our time and our energy for each other to help each other develop as well as giving up our time to help others in the community. In doing so we learn to lead well. In terms of what it has contributed to my mental health, I’d say it has massively created a purpose in my life beyond that of self-interest and has been a major source of enjoyment, through the friends I’ve made, the sense of belonging I feel and the experiences I’ve gained through being a part of this brilliant global organisation.      

[N.B. - Much of the information in this blog is taken from a talk given by a man called Simon Sinek, who is a leadership guru and author of the best-selling business book, ‘Start with Why.’ The talk he gave was about leadership culture and how this affects our bio-chemistry and in turn our team culture and performance. After viewing it I felt compelled to summarise the key points as a means of sharing the key concepts! You can view his talk ‘Leaders Eat Last’ at the following link, I would thoroughly recommend it – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReRcHdeUG9Y]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4th May, 2017

Jimmy Carr presenting Tuna Fish Media and Salford University the award for 'Best use of Social Media' 

Tuna Fish Media are a major player in the digital marketing world and are extremely well known in the Manchester business scene. They also happen to be JCI Manchester Coporate members, and have nominated one of their employees - Hannah Matthewman to be a JCI Manchester Board Member! Every year they go from strength to strength scooping up awards like they're pick and mix! Their latest achievement includes an award at the Chartered Institute of Marketing Awards in London for 'Best Use of Social Media' beating off competition from Facebook! This was for a campaign they did for Salford University, the information for which is below (taken directly from Salford University's website).

For Clearing in 2016 we wanted to direct potential students to the MatchMaker tool that we launched the previous year. MatchMaker is an online tool that allows potential students to enter their UCAS points and interests and then see a list of available courses that may suit them. With over 60,000 courses from across the UK going in to Clearing we knew we had to do something stand out. Given the style of the MatchMaker interface we looked to Tinder for inspiration and ultimately found our answer.  

We created a male and female profile on the popular dating app to encourage social interaction and to start a publicity stir. We backed this with targeted social media and an explainer video. We used local agency TunaFish (headed by alumni Sam Jones) and utilised Petal PR to help with media coverage.

“In a similar vein to our innovative MatchMaker tool, we wanted to make the clearing process as fun, reassuring and engaging as possible so embarked on this unique and disruptive marketing campaign," said Associate Director of Marketing Hannah Burchell. Whilst it was entertaining, it also ensured that students who enrolled were well suited to us and ultimately found the right course for them. This award recognises the hard work of the whole marketing team at Salford who helped make the campaign so successful.”

This really is a monumental achievement and will no doubt sky rocket Tuna Fish Media to higher heights than they are currently at. A huge well done from all of us here at JCI Manchester! 

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4th May, 2017

JCI Manchester Members just keep on astounding us! This week saw Phoebe Benta, our charity director who has recently launched the North West Charity Awards https://northwestcharityawards.co.uk/, appear on the radio to talk about her latest venture. For Phoebe, the aims of the awards are as follows...

"To promote and raise awareness and profiles for our charities and not-for-profit organisations. To honour, recognise, celebrate and promote outstanding professionals and best practices within our charities. The awards are aimed at recognising and showing appreciation to charities, social leaders and individuals across the sector who have made a positive impact; giving opportunities, refuge, care and guidance for some of our community’s most affected."

 It is a fantastic idea and Phoebe can 100% rely on the support from the JCI Manchester Chamber. We wish her all the best with her endeavour! If you know of anyone running a charity or community programme in the Cheshire, Manchester, Liverpool, Lancashire and Cumbria areas plese send them to the website >>> HERE

You can listen to her interview on BBC Radio Manchester here (1 hour 9 minutes and 23 seconds in) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p050f6ss

You can listen to her interview on BBC Radio Lancashire here (3 hours 10 minutes in) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p050fddn

 

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4th May, 2017

Celebrating 2 of our fantastic New Board Members...
by Simon Anderson on May 4, 2017 08:59

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Celebrating 2 of Our fantastic New Members…

JCI Manchester has always been extremely lucky with the kind of member we attract. Ambitious, hard-working, and creative people who despite having very demanding full time jobs still find the time to go above and beyond for their JCI Chamber!

Vicky Biggs: Joined January 2017...

Vicky is a full time solicitor working for a company called Myerson’s in Altrincham. Since joining she has thrown herself into absolutely everything going. She immediately joined the 4 strong membership team being instrumental in event follow-up and with signing up corporate members. Her work place are so impressed that they are now seriously considering coming on as corporate members themselves. She has also put herself forward to be part of the Manchester Young Talent Awards organising committee which is no small task

She is also well and truly getting involved with what is without a doubt one of the greatest making use of the best selling points of JCI – the international scene! Early on in the year she applies for a senate bursary which can be used at any international event (probably World Congress!). As well as this she will be attending the European Multi-Twinning Weekend in Edinburgh this weekend, equipped with two bottles of Manchester’s finest Gin (Manchester 3 Rivers) and addressing all the attendees on behalf of the UK. Not bad for 4 months of involvement! Keep up the good work Vicky, it’s great to have you on board – excited to see everything you’ve done by the end of the year!

 

Cheryl Hill: Joined January 2017...

Cheryl has been nothing short of a life-saver! JCI Manchester has had no finance director for while leaving it with the president to sort out. You can imagine my delight when Cheryl put herself forward for the role. Leaving the role with this year’s president would have been a disaster of epic proportion. Thank God Cheryl stepped up. Since taking on the role she has well and truly taken control of the Chamber’s finances, ensuring we aren’t over spending, and doing some future planning to create a buffer fund for the future to ensure the chambers longevity. She too has joined the MYTA organising committee and is an integral part given her role as organiser for the Forever Manchester Charity birthday dinner this year which raised a total of £46,000. No small achievement.

She, like Vicky is throwing herself into all aspects of JCI life. This morning she received the excellent news that she has secured a place at the JCI European Academy in Sweden. A 5 day European level leadership academy where people from across Europe (who traditionally are incoming presidents) are trained in all elements of leadership in JCI. Again, it’s great to have you on board and look forward to seeing all that you achieve in 2017 and beyond!

This isn't to say that the rest of the board aren't doing brilliant work as well! Like I mentioned we are extremely lucky in Manchester to have a really passionate group of individuals, all of whom contribute to the efforts of everything that goes on in JCI Manchester! Keep up the good work everyone and lets keep the momentum going! 

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27th Apr, 2017

Full House at JCI Manchester's Musical Bingo Charity Event
by Simon Anderson on April 27, 2017 17:00

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Last night saw us host our 2nd charity event of the 2017 calendar year at the always popular Botanist on Deansgate. Attendees arrived and were invited to grab their free drink and join for some networking activity. After being watered and fed the musical bingo began!

Musical Bingo works a lot like normal bingo, only rather than numbers it’s songs and artists. The in house pianist and singer (Martin) played and sang songs in a continuous loop while everyone blotted away, eagerly anticipating a line, 2 lines and a full house! There were such classics as John Denver, Mustang Sally, Scooter - The Logical Song and many more absolute classics from years gone by!

The event went down very well and in total we raised £450 for our nominated charity of the year Mancunian Way! Great work charity team and everyone who was involved! Thanks again to the Botanist for being excellent hosts!

 

 

Keep your eyes peeled for our next 2 events, which will be the relaunch of our public speaking competition with Eric Fitzpatrick and our much anticipated May Social which we are planning to hold at INNSIDE!

 

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24th Apr, 2017

The group pictured here walking along Great Whernside

 

JCI Manchester (plus Michael from JCI Yorkshire) took to the hills again with MTSG to lead a 15 strong group up and down the hills and across the moors of the Yorkshir Dales! Blessed again by the weather, the group started the walk with a slight (massive) detour which lead them up a pretty steep, boggy hill climb. But in true JCI/MTSG sprirt the group gritted it out getting on the high ground to enjoy the views! (Image above).

Starting in the beautiful village of Kettlewell, the walk took in the peaks of Great Whernside and Buckden Pike. It was a nice hilly loop walk across some pretty boggy terrain but the group soldiered on through despite the windy conditions on top. After reaching both peaks, the group with sun kissed faces finally made their way down into Starbotton (another little/massive detour) and down the river into Kettle well. What should have been a 12 mile hike actually ended up being a 15 mile hike. There were no regrets. It was a fantastic day! 

The next walk the intrepid adventurers will take part in is Helvelyn in the Lake District on Saturday 6th May! Feel free to book yourself on here. The more the merrier, no cost involved! 

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10th Apr, 2017

JCI Manchester complete second 3 Peaks Training Walk with MTSG
by Simon Anderson on April 10, 2017 09:02

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20 JCI Manchester and MTSG 3 Peakers took to the rolling hills of the Peak Distrct in 20 degree heat this weekand to take part in the second 3 Peaks Challenge training walk. This particualr walk took in Mam Tor and the Edale circular route that was a grand total of 12 miles! It couldnt have been a better day and the views were spectacular. Everyone slogged it out for a good 5 hours and came home a little bit more sun kissed than when they left.  

There are still a good few walks left as part of the training programme - any and all are welcome on these for no charge regardless of age and membership of JCI! All in a bid to promote good health and wellbeing. For more information about getting involved in these walks please contact Simon Anderson at simon@pro-fit21.com  

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10th Apr, 2017

JCI Manchester Attend Mancunian Way Homeless Summit
by Simon Anderson on April 10, 2017 08:16

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JCI Manchester attends Manchester Businesses Homeless Summit with Mancunian Way Charity

The Mancunian Way, JCI Manchester’s Charity for 2017, run a programme known as Change4Good. This is an initiative that works to tackle the growing issue of homelessness on the streets of Manchester. On Thursday 6th April they ran the Manchester Businesses Homeless Summit which invited partners and businesses to the MacDonald Hotel to educate them on the extent of the issues and dispel any of the myths that may circulate about what we should be doing to help.  This article summarises what was spoken about…

A number of news stories were shown to us; the first about a business who donates a pair of anti-bacterial socks to the homeless for every pair that are bought from his company1. The second was about a boy who saves his pocket money to buy Christmas presents for the homeless2. The third was about a little girl who gives home-made cupcakes to the homeless3. The initial reaction of most people in the room was that these acts were good examples of people helping those less fortunate than themselves. There’s no denying that these acts are done with the best intention, but what is the actual consequence of these actions? Are they the actions of people who genuinely want to help the homeless or are they just to make people fell a bit better about themselves. Are coffee shops who give you the option to buy a coffee for a homeless person actually doing something that helps a homeless persons situation or are they just maximising their profits on the backs of people sleeping in the streets? Tough questions to answer.

The difficult to admit truth is, this version of ‘help’ is people choosing to do things that are easy rather than doing things that are difficult but actually help the homeless person improve their situation. It’s people doing the wrong things for the right reasons. These acts of kindness are the very thing that makes homeless people stay on the streets, away from accommodation where the services designed to help them are present. For example, one homeless person the Change4Good team spoke to was given a hot bacon barm and a fresh coffee every morning by a business man who worked in the building he was sleeping outside. An act of kindness. They asked if he would like to go into accommodation, he replied – “No, Do you get breakfast in bed every morning? I do…” So can you blame him for wanting to stay there?  

Another example is that of a 19 year-old boy living in one of the tents across from the MacDonald Hotel where the summit was being held – the Change4Good Team spoke to him about how he got to where he was and asked if he wanted help. Again he refused. On digging a bit deeper they actually discovered he had a home but chose to live here because he has a group of mates, they have a laugh, they give him drugs. For him, it’s a better life living here than in an actual home because people’s kindness makes it so easy for them to survive and in some cases thrive!   

This has created a situation where there is no better city to be a homeless person than in Manchester! People now travel from across the country to sleep on the streets here, and they know this because of social media. The news stories about numbers growing attract people. People message their friends. This only serves to worsen the problem.

The overall message is that the acts of kindness essentially facilitate homeless people staying on the streets longer. They are given food, drinks and money because of people’s good will, to the point where living on the streets is actually better for some than going back into accommodation. There is free food and accommodation for every homeless person in Manchester should they want it. And, any money given does get spent on drugs and alcohol – you may have noticed some news stories circulating about the problems of excessive spice use4. Heroin is also a drug of choice for this group. The main issue here is not so much in trying to help someone high on heroin but the fact that they share needles which can lead to some extremely harmful infections that may lead to amputations. Did you know it costs £1/3 million to amputate a person’s leg that has been sharing needles. Not to mention the cost of aftercare. A growing cost to the NHS which is already very stretched.

The information given from the summit was not on of just stop giving your money and stop caring it was very much, don’t think you are helping people by giving them your money or food. Even though it may seem like you are.

The approach Change4Good take is by adopting a person centred focus. They don’t stand over them and dictate what they can do for them they listen to those living on the streets, build those relationships of trust with them and find out what they need. These types of conversations have often stopped people from being hospitalised and in some cases persuaded them to move into accommodation which is a huge step for anyone living on the streets. They appreciate this is a mental health issue compounded by drug use and that to break this cycle is a very long process especially when the allure of street living is so great.

We were then introduced to a partner organisation known as the Booth Centre5 who work with homeless people by offering accommodation and building a purpose for them that is greater than the life on the streets. What they do and how they help depends on the people walking through the door, they too take a person-centred approach. 

So to summarise, the situation of people living on the streets of Manchester is worsening. What compounds it is people’s good will and acts of kindness that are being done for all the right reasons but just simply aren’t in the recipients best interest. They will continue to live on the streets if we continue to facilitate this kind of life-style through these acts. The work Change4Good do is an essential part of tackling the issue and they need the help of businesses across Manchester to help educate people in what to do and more importantly what not to do. So if you are interested in finding about more about the work Change4Good we would encourage you to get in touch with them - http://mancunianway.org.uk/change4good/

Thanks,

Team JCI Manchester

 

1http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/business/business-news/entrepreneur-gives-manchesters-homeless-stand4socks-12293065

2https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2432976/big-hearted-schoolboy-6-uses-his-own-pocket-money-to-buy-christmas-presents-for-the-homeless/

3http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3885190/Is-Britain-s-kindest-schoolgirl-Olivia-five-takes-homemade-cupcakes-feed-homeless-distressed-people-living-streets.html

4https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3017393/horrifying-footage-shows-how-street-drug-spice-turns-homeless-people-in-manchester-into-zombies/

5http://www.boothcentre.org.uk/

 

 

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6th Apr, 2017

JCI Manchester gets Kintish'd
by Simon Anderson on April 6, 2017 07:30

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Held at the ever accommodating Sedulo offices on Deansgate, April's breakfast briefing was delivered by none other than Will Kintish, a national and international authority on the art of business networking. For 16 years, Will has run in house and public courses all over Europe in this essential business skill, helping people become more competent and effective networkers, so for him to give up his time for JCI Manchester was a real gesture on his part, given how in demand he is as a trainer.
The session began slightly earlier and to the surprise of everyone there! As all attendees were already stood in groups chatting already, the session started with a quick demonstration of how to work the room. This involved looking at whether groups were 'closed' or 'open' and whether it was ok to join them. Everyone then took their seats and Will energetically and interactively took people through the 8 stage 'Kintish Process' that if used well, increases the chances of building business relationships and bringing in business to your company. The session covering the importance of 
actually Accepting the invitation to the event in the first place, How to take the relationship from Know to Like to Trust, The importance of Following up on what you said you would do, and asking the right questions instead of directly selling to people.
Will's energy and the way he interactively took people through the concepts were infectious, causing everyone to hang on his every word for the full hour. Feedback on the session has been immensely positive:
"I learned a lot from this and would definitely recommend attending the course..." Daniel Thomas - Pomegranate Consulting 
"This morning with JCI Manchester I was Kintish'd and it was actually amazing!" Cheryl Hill - Forever Manchester 
"Excellent Breakfast networking training put on by JCI Manchester, albeit very early!" Sarah Parr - Manchester 3 Rivers Gin 
The session came to an end and Will was kind enough to offer 3 free places on his next public course run in Manchester in June. I'm sure the 3 recipients are over the moon with his generous gift! 
The session was incredibly helpful, giving people practical tips they can implement immediately. Anyone considering bringing Will in as a trainer to up skill the staff in bringing more business into the company - Will is a sound investment and we would thoroughly recommend that you do. 
The take away for most people from the session was that social media is great but nothing beats face to face networking for building and solidifying business relationships. And it all starts with accepting the invitation in the first place. If you're not there how will people know who you are and what you do?! 
We want to thank Will for giving up his time this morning, Sedulo for being excellent hosts, for everyone who attended for supporting our event. 
We very much look forward to seeing everyone at our next event which is musical Bingo at the Botanist on Deansgate on the 26th April at 6.30pm. You can book on using the following link! https://www.fatsoma.com/jci-manchester-/tp0rqi0i/charity-event-musical-bingo-at-the-botanist
Thanks,
JCI Manchester Team

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21st Mar, 2017

  

Thursday 16th 2017 was the JCI Manchester New Members Evening. Our annual showcase of how we do things and what opportunities are open to people should they wish to join. Historically, It is our most well attended event and this year was no different; selling out just one week after being added to our events list.

On the night we were treated to an arrival drink of a rum based cocktail or gin and tonic then the attendees were free to work the room and catch up with members and non-members alike. For the second drink the JCI board team were on hand to hand out tokens – they were each assigned a mini-group that would come to them to collect the token. This was just a way to ensure that people had a chance to chat to a member of our board about what we got up to at JCI Manchester!

Mingling continued and at about 7pm the canapes came out! We were treated to some of Tattu’s finest dim sum; courgette fritters, duck spring roles, ginger beef dumplings and shitake mushroom dumplings. They were incredible!

There isn’t much else to report apart from the feedback we received post event! Feedback we had from the night was unbelievably positive: 77% saying they loved it and asked when the next one is, 15% saying they were pleasantly surprised. 8% said it wasn’t quite right for them. Can’t please everyone! We would ask that you give us another chance though ;) 

We invite anyone who is a non-member to reach out and get in touch if JCI Manchester is something you think you like to get more involved with. The New Members Evening is a very small sample of the opportunities on offer. We will be doing a follow up event to the New Members evening some point in the near future, which will be a chance to meet in smaller groups and chat to one of our board members about JCI. Watch this space for information on that!

We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came to the event and we hope to see you at some point in the future. Our next event is a Breakfast Briefing and Networking Masterclass with Will Kintish! We recommend you book onto this as soon as possible because we anticipate high numbers for this given Will’s reputation around Manchester! You can book on to that event here >>> https://www.fatsoma.com/jci-manchester-/gmsz3st6/breakfast-briefing-networking-mastery-with-will-kintish  

Thanks,

JCI Manchester team    

 

 

   

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