#WeSwear to tackle mental illness

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I’ve just finished co-hosting a pop-up photography exhibition with mental health research charity, MQ, at the FintechTalents 2018 #fintech community festival.  The photos were the ones you may have seen in tube trains recently as part of the powerful #WeSwear campaign with celebrities demanding we give a **** about mental illness.

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This is such a important message and something so relevant to us all that I want to get as many famous #fintech faces to take on this cause and swear to help too.  After all, most fintech-ers I know are pretty noisy, so who better to amplify the message: it’s time to tackle mental illness.

So I am looking for people who will allow Comms of Good and MQ to publish and share their photos in the #WeSwear template to spread the word within the banking sector and raise awareness of the vital work MQ do.

If you’d like to take part in the campaign,  drop me (Kate Bolton) a note at comms4good@gmail.com and I’ll let you know how.

FintechTalents2018 festival supports mental health charity, MQ.

I am so proud that Comms for Good is attending the industry’s first ever Fintech festival, FintechTalents, this week and to be involved in this community of inspiring individuals and organisations determined to make a difference.  VC Innovations, the organisation behind the festival, describes how communities are part of their DNA:

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“We don’t build brands, we build communities… formed by dreamers and doers, innovators and creators, problem solvers and solution providers, advisers and deciders.”

I love this vision, it resonates loud and clear with me. It is through these kinds of communities, where individuals and organisations join forces and rally together, that we can drive real change – not just in our industries, not just for customers, but for society as a whole.

For my part, I will be there with wonderful mental health research charity, MQ Mental health, helping them extend their powerful #WeSwear campaign to the fintech world. At a time when the importance of understanding and tackling mental illness is becoming more clear, it is vital that industries and organisations stand up and pledge their support.

Through an exhibition of hauntingly beautiful photos of well-known people swearing to speak out and draw attention to mental health issues, FTT festival-goers will be encouraged to learn more about how they can help – including by adding their own faces to the campaign and spreading the word through their own social channels.

Here’s my face in the #WeSwear template – and over the coming days you will see more familiar #fintech faces join me, as we join forces to make some noise about an issue that impacts us all.

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If you or your organisation would like to take part in the #WeSwear campaign by sharing your own image, or if you’d like to discuss other ways to get involved, please get in touch via comms4good@gmail.com.

A pop-up photography exhibition brings #mentalhealthawareness to life

We’re so excited to be hosting this pop-up photography exhibition together with Starling Bank on behalf of mental health research charity, MQ.

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 10.45.18The exhibition is by royal photographer, Matt Holyoak, and features the faces of the charity’s powerful We Swear campaign, which you may have seen on bill boards and in the tube.

Hosted at a private reception at Starling Bank’s offices in the City, guests will have the opportunity to view the incredible photos of the celebrities and MQ supporters who have shared their stories to help us understand why we urgently need more mental health research.

We will also hear from our special guest speakers from the business world their views on why and how we can and should take on mental health issues together.

This will be a wonderful evening of networking with friends from banking, fintech and the wider business community, while learning more and raising awareness of a hugely important issue that touches us all.

You can register here if you’d like to come.

#IndustrySocialResponsibility

light, idea, electricity, light bulbs, public, glass, electronicI am working on a ‘big idea’… and wondering what to call it. Is crowd-CSR aleady a thing? Maybe that’s what it is… Or open-CSR?? That sounds sort of fintech-ish, right? Something where organisations can access and contribute to each other’s community work and make connections that increase the impact for a charitable cause? Or maybe when lots of organisations in a sector collaborate for good causes, then Corporate Social Responsibility becomes Industry Social Responsibility – ISR??

Here’s the thing that’s consuming me. I continue to be obsessed with #collaboration – the way the word is bandied around as critical when it comes to sustainable banking sector growth; and the way a lot of the time, for various reasons (time, cost, tech compatibility, competition, culture, etc), the opportunities for collaboration between organisations are actually quite limited.

And yet, there’s this bee in my bonnet… ‘banking industry collaboration in support of good causes’, it buzzes. LOUDLY. That’s by nature sustainable.

I’ve noticed that many organisations and individuals within the banking sector are taking on the Mental Health cause, each separately raising awareness and funds for a number of different charities that cover the various aspects of this issue.

I am also aware that the more noise that can be made about an issue, the more people that stand up and take notice, the better the outcome for the causes involved. In fact, the better the outcome for the supporters of the cause too – more staff engagement, a greater sense of achievement, more brand kudos – whatever it is that motivates you.

So, what if I were to find as many banking sector organisations and individuals* that are supporting Mental Health one way or another via the various mental health charities, and see if we can pull off some sort of collaborative initiative where the resulting CSR-win is somehow greater than the individual parts…

A cross-industry mega-campaign? An event maybe? The banking sector joining forces to raise awareness of all aspects of mental health issues and support. A large bank supporting MHUK, another supporting Mind, a fintech supporting research with MQ Health, a team from a small bank doing a challenge to fundraise for Alzheimers Society, an individual banking employee supporting PANDAS foundation, etc, etc, all getting together to demonstrate that mental health issues impact us all, and by working together – industries and charities alike, even those that normally compete – we can make a massive difference.

I can hear the ‘but it’s just not how things are done’ chorus already. But I also think that in itself makes it all the more important, more compelling. Going back to #banking #fintech #collaboration again, this is the kind of industry collaboration that actually is unlimited and sustainable – and by getting involved you get to make even more valuable business connections.

To steal the words of an existing mental health campaign – #ItsTimeToChange

*Individuals – just a note that I like the idea that an individual’s work for a specific cause could be supported by the weight of the industry, just as an individual could choose to give to a campaign supported by a large bank.

PS Having just written this, I am now leaning towards Industry Social Responsibility (ISR) as the label for this mission, especially as the Social part has the perfect dual-purpose here: social as in ‘society’ AND social as in ‘socialising’ (or networking). I do so love a word play.  #IndustrySocialResponsibility #ISR

Fintech raises over £2100 for London’s homeless

hosb photo wth logo and bannerThank you all so much for working together to support our ‘Give a gift of employment’ campaign for The House of St Barnabas Members Club and Charity this winter.  Together we raised an amazing £2172, which will help support  a homeless person through their Employment Academy and back into long term employment.

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Highlights of the campaign included a guest slot at the Fintech Insider After Dark Christmas event in December, where generous Fintechers got a buzz out of contactless giving with their cards, phones, rings and watches via my Square payment device.  11:FS and Bud – thanks so much for inviting us!

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Then came January’s #Cake4Good Fintech Bake Off and Cake Sale, in collaboration with fabulous Liz Lumley and Femtech Global, and hosted by Asif Faruque and the generous Level39 team at Canary Wharf.  We’ll not forget Deutsche Bank’s Selasi and his signed #GBBO apron, Fintech.Finance’s show-stopping cake, or Virginie O’Shea from Aite and her felted fintech goodies in a hurry.  Huge thanks to Tanya Andreasyan from Fintech Futures for doing her best impression of Mary Berry and taking on the role of judge for the afternoon.

HOSB_MarqueJPGAs a token of their appreciation for your support, I am pleased to share that The House of St Barnabas are offering a House Access Pass to their Members Club for Comms for Good members and up to 3 guests during the month of March.    If you would like to take the Club up on this offer, please send an email to Liz Clarke (liz.clarke@hosb.org.uk) to arrange your night out.

Thank you again for your continued support and encouragement.  I look forward to sharing more updates, campaigns and community-focused events with you soon.

Now bring on Spring!

Bring on 2018!

We do love a new year.  The chance to look back and reflect on the previous year – the good, the not so good, and the downright iffy – and then, a little wiser, start all over again with a clean page.  Time to design, create, and embrace a whole new year.  Welcome, 2018!

But first, here’s a look at what we achieved in 2017 …

Remember the Comms for Good launch event at the Cancer Centre with Dimbleby Cancer Care? On the 1st March 2017, surrounded by our comms peers, prosecco in hand, we introduced the concept of banking industry collaboration for good.   Brilliant Harriet Allner inspired us to not just talk but take action for positive change; and wise Chris Gledhill reminded us that the reputation of the banking industry is still poor, so the idea that banking can work together to be socially responsible is very powerful.

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That night we launched our first industry-wide charity campaign – a 50km night walk across London in support of our hosts, Dimbleby Cancer Care.

Hence, on the night of Friday 9th June, London’s banking world put on its walking shoes and took to the streets to walk 50km and, with help from Temenos, Starling, Pushfor, and Deutsche Bank, raised a whopping £8000 for cancer patients and their families along the way.

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Next, at the end of July, the Comms for Good website was born; one of those seemingly small and insignificant steps that was a long time in the making… but with it came fresh motivation.

And so, in September, when the world went back to school, off we went in search of an inspiring new cause to support.  Finally, in October, we were introduced to the wonderful social enterprise in Soho that is The House of St Barnabas, and decided to make London’s homeless the focus of a new winter campaign.

The IMG_5588House of St Barnabas campaign – give a gift of employment – calls for the banking world to join forces to promote social inclusion by raising funds to support and mentor a homeless person through the charity’s employment academy and into lasting employment.

The campaign has had huge industry support from fintech friends at companies such as Bud, Curve, 11:FS, Finastra and FirstWord Media – we’ve raised £1602 so far – and, in many ways even better, it’s inspired a ripple of follow on events…

This brings us neatly to January 2018 and … wait for it … #Cake4Good and the #FintechCakeBake 😀

Details to follow, but block your diaries for the 25th January and be ready to bake up a storm at Level 39 Canary Wharf alongside Liz Lumley, Ghela Boskovich, Asif Faruque and other banking and fintech legends.

Since 2018 is kicking off with cake, it’s off to a great start!  We can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings.

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Give a gift of employment

At a time of year when we are bombarded with irresistible deals, and we prepare to indulge our friends and families with expensive gifts, it’s easy to forget how privileged we are to have the means to do so.

That’s why I am especially excited to share with you our winter fundraising campaign: Give a gift of employment.

Comms for Good is calling for London’s financial services community to join forces this winter in support of the homeless and The House of St BarnabaPrints.

Based in Soho, The House of St Barnabas is a not-for-profit members’ club and charity pledging to break the cycle of homelessness and social exclusion through their Employment Academy. A 12-week sponsored training programme for the homeless includes accredited qualifications from City & Guilds, work experience in the club, personal development, CV workshops, and real job opportunities. After completing the programme, graduates are offered an additional 12 months of mentoring and support, with a focus on work and wage progression. This ongoing assistance is vital in the lasting success of the Employment Academy’s graduates, enabling them to gain and sustain their independence.

We invite organisations and individuals to work together to raise the £5,000 required to support a homeless person through The House of St Barnabas’ 12-week training programme and beyond.

Please donate via the Comms for Good fundraising page and share on Twitter with other @CommsGood members and followers.

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Give an extra gift this Christmas and support a homeless person into lasting employment.