We are so honoured to be Ambassadors for We Are Hummingbird. For anyone who doesn't know who this awesome organisation is, we fired over some questions to Ian, John & Karl the three friends making mental health as important as physical health through the power of music.
S+W: What is WAHB?
We are Hummingbird is a non-profit Mental Health awareness organisation. We are a community of music lovers who have united to spread awareness of mental health by using music as a platform to encourage people to open up and engage in conversation.
Born out of the loss of a close friend to suicide, we needed to see what we could do to help others avoid such heartbreak and help remove the stigma around mental health.
We knew that wanted to try and help stop this from happening to someone else, but we had no idea how to get there. If we were able to help just one person then our goal was complete – but that wouldn’t mean our mission is complete.
Due to our eagerness to help, mistakes have been made but we have overcome and learnt from them. We are constantly learning. We aren’t professionals and we will never claim to be. What we are though is a group of people striving to make a difference.
We are Hummingbird is a community who talk, share and find support around mental health under the umbrella of music, we are united by a love of music and a commitment to look after each other.
We are you, you are us and together WE are Hummingbird.
S+W: Why non profit - not charity?
We get this question quite a lot. We went quite deep into the charity application but during the process found that it was not really for us. Our mission has always been to allow everybody a voice and that may sometimes mean speaking to people who perhaps are not ’squeaky-clean’. Of course, we always do our due diligence on who we speak to and work with. We found that with the ‘red-tape’ and having trustees who ultimately have the last say, it restricted us from doing what we set out to achieve.
S+W: What makes you different? ( from the larger charities)
Being a small organisation really helps us to focus on the things we can achieve well. As a team of three with other full-time jobs, we know what we can do. We often campaigns being launched from other organisations that shows a lack of consistency and ultimately dilutes what their brand is. We have identified our strengths and always look to stick to them. Above all being focused and following our brand DNA it allows us to continue being the voice of those who may not currently relate to other organisations. As fabulous as they all are of course, we are all different after all.
S+W: Tell us something we don't know about mental health ( eg budgets ect) that will shock us.
There is so much ‘fake news’ when it comes to mental health, it is hard to know where to start. Unfortunately, we are still extremely limited with knowledge, most people ‘think’ they know what it means and what some of the mental illnesses are, however, sadly experience shows us that this is not the case.
Workplaces and organisations still feel that training staff on mental health awareness is expensive, however this could not be further from the truth. A recent study from Deloitte estimated the return on investment (ROI) of workplace mental health interventions by employers, and found that for every £1 invested, employers received £4 back. This is through a reduction is absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover. Says it all really, companies, no matter what size organisation they can’t afford to not get educated.
S+W: So many influencers are talking about mental health - is this good or bad, discuss.
Any new conversations about mental health must be a good thing, it's only when we all take interest in making sure our mental health is as important as our physical, will we get the change the world needs. The great thing about these wide and varied conversations is that there is more chance for one to resonate with the right person. We are not looking for a cure here, we do not need a vaccination, we have the answers we just do not always get to hear them. So, by having a reverse group of contributors talking about the ways to look after your mental health, hopefully, everyone who needs to hear will listen if someone they resonate with is talking.
S+W: Tell us about a book that changed your life.
Karl: I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that’s changed my life. I’m not a huge reader. I do have a favourite book of all but it’s by a man and musician I don’t think is in the best of light at the moment so we won’t go there. But other than that, I think for me it was a book that Ian introduced me to and that is ‘Be More Pirate’ by Sam Conniff. I think I speak for the three of us that it has certainly helped shape We are Hummingbird. Actually, we are all in the second book but I haven’t had chance to read that one yet.
John: I am defo more of a listener than reader! I LOVE podcasts and would say it’s one of these which has changed my life! Im currently listening to the ‘How to Wow’ podcasts by Chris Evans which are great to get an insight into how other people have navigated the world and their lives. The Two Shot Podcast is a cracker too if your looking for stories to inspire and change how you think
Ian: As with Karl, I would have to say ‘Be more Pirate’ by Sam Conniff. I has gifted this book by a senior figure of another mental health charity just as I was leaving my old city job and planning to make the plunge into completely unknown world, but still one that my heart and soul was passionately guiding me towards. Reading this book was a key step change for me in how I perceived the world and how I wanted it to see me. It is so strange to think that a book about Pirates had such an impact, but it was just another reminder about how we form opinions and perceptions on things we actually have very little knowledge about, maybe no surprise that mental health is another one of these topics. We were lucky as an organisation to be featured in their second book and I would without doubt recommend these to anyone of any age.
S+W: Favourite beverage
Karl: A pint of Guinness or an Espresso Martini
John: A pint of Guinness in Ireland on a cold night with a warm fire!
Ian: A nice glass of Corbiere Red Wine
S+W: Dream holiday destination
Karl: Somewhere cold and preferably where I could see the Northern Lights. So like Canada or Iceland.
John: I love the sea so it would have to be on a beach with some friendly waves to paddle about on
Ian: Greece, it is where I plan on retiring. I love the heat.
S+W: What techniques help you ( eg: cash in cash out)
Karl: I’m huge worrier and over-thinker. I took some valuable information away from when I did a course of CBT. Look at the situation in hand that is troubling you. If there’s something you can do to change it then do it. If there isn’t, just let it go. I know that is easier said than done and it took me a few years for it to be comfortable but it’s helped me a lot.
John: Ive become obsessed with breathing practices lately, I try to work on my breathing and nasal methods everyday. I’ve also started finishing my showers with freezing cold water ... a bit tough at first but again with good breathing its a great way to clear your mind and reset for the day
Ian: I have learnt so much over the last few years in terms of who I am and what makes me up as an individual. Having a true insight into your own strengths and areas for improvement is huge. But it is more about if you know these you can cut yourself some slack when it all gets too much. I coined a phrase of ‘cash in vs cash out’ when I was thinking of new ways to explain to people about how fluid mental health actually is. We don’t register the good moments in life enough, meaning we often completely overlook the good stuff. I find I will usually cash in around 60 times a day now, sometimes much more!
S+W: Gym or long walk?
Karl: Definitely a LONG walk for me. I couldn’t think of anywhere worse to be than a gym. Plus, nature is free.
John: Walk for sure - preferably with some sand and sea water included!
Ian: Gym every time for me, classes with my friends to natter at the same time, but I do love walking too, can I say both?
S+W: What is your guilty pleasure?
Karl: Ha. Watching paranormal investigations or restoration videos on YouTube. Love them.
John: I have no issue telling you I love a bit of Love Island Australia of an evening to switch off my brain to!
Ian: The Repair Shop on BBC and tat shops. I am a sucker for tat!
S+W: Favourite solo artist
Karl: I did have a different answer for this and then saw John’s so I’m now agreeing with him. Phenomenal musician and all round great guy. He makes me sick!!
John: I LOVE a bit of John Mayer!
Ian: George Michael
S+W: Describe you last supper / favourite dishes.
Karl: For a starter I think I’d have tempura prawns. For main I would have a huge burger and double cooked chips. As a desert I would have to go for apple crumble with custard, double cream and ice cream!!
John: Mexican! All of the Mexican food please with some frozen margaritas to help wash down!
Ian: Thai, I love Thai food and if it is from a street vendor even better. Spicy and fresh, delicious.
S+W: What is your Kryptonite?
Karl: I don’t really have a kryptonite as such. But Ignorance or lack of manners really gets me angry. A ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way and cost nothing.
John: My youngest sons pout .. I would literally let him get away with anything if I see his lip come out!
S+W: Biggest strength
Karl: Punctuality. There’s a great quote that goes something along the lines of “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on-time, you’re late. If you’re late, don’t bother showing up”.
John: Being nice, takes no time and can last a life time to someone
Ian: Turns out I hold a good conversation. I love people, talking but mainly listening. So much interest in learning about new people and their lives. As humans’ these days we only seem to ever want to skim the surface. I like all the stories!
S+W: What's next for WAHB?
We are obsessed with closing the gap between people not knowing how to get help if they need it, so we will continue to create more ways to have great conversations. Hopefully when we can all start seeing each other again, we can have more of these conversations with people in person at gigs, festivals and hopefully at their places of work.
S+W: What's the best way for people to support / get involved?
Currently, the best thing people can do is just share what we are doing. Tell as many people as possible to enable to us to reach a wider audience. We know that not everyone will resonate with us however, we can at least direct people to an organisation or service that may be better suited. We have a large Help & resources page that is full of free information. There are plans (very soon) to put some assets on the website for people to download and post on their social media to help promote what we are doing.
S+W: Favourite snack.
Karl: A huge bag of crisps. One of those that you’re ‘supposed’ to share.
John: Cant beat a bag of Monster Munch!
Ian: Chocolate, dark, but any will do!
S+W: What's on your party playlist? ( or what are you listening to atm?)
Karl: I go through phases of listening to different genres. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of hip-hop (Mac Miller, Tyler, the Creator, Shotty Horroh, the Mouse Outfit) and a lot of folk / singer-songwriter stuff (Humbird, Bones Owens, Jacob Collier, Faye Webster). My range in music is huge so next week I could be listening to some Norwegian death-metal. Who know’s?
John: Has to be some early Kanye West, some Jamiraquai and a cheeky banger from 5ive!
Ian: I am a Smooth Radio guy, I love old music more than anything, I think it is because it generates so many memories for me. In the summer I do tend to listen to more dance music. Sun out chilling with some chilled sounds.
S+W: Favourite Netflix series?
Karl: I refuse to pick just one as I have so many; Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Brooklyn 99, Parks and Recreation, Schitt’s Creek, Ozark, Good Girls, Stranger Things …
John: I always come back to Parks and Rec and Brooklyn 99 ... timeless comedy
Ian: Modern Family, absolute favourite of all time.
For help, support or donations check out www.wearehummingbird.com