How can you inspire a movement that will really make a difference to work culture, mental health and wellbeing in 2021?
Harry Corin is the Mental Health and Projects Manager at KIND – the wholesome healthy snacking company. In this interview for Make A Difference Media, Harry shares his very personal story, how this inspired him to take action in his workplace and the incredible momentum that is building behind this movement.
First, please can you tell us a bit about how you become aware of CALM and involved with driving forward the workplace mental health agenda?
For me, my first interaction with CALM was a moment that I will always remember, and it was a day that changed so much. It was the 28th March 2018 and I was commuting into central London, one month into my new role at KIND. Our office at the time was based on the Southbank.
As I was in a rush, I went straight to the top floor of our shared office space, and if you can imagine a glass panoramic window that wrapped the building. I looked out and there in front of me was what appeared to be people standing on the roof of the ITV Tower building. My heart sank. My chest tightened. I quickly realised that these were not real people, as they weren’t moving. I typed ‘people on ITV Tower building’ into my web browser and it was this moment where it all hit me.
This was an activation from the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). This was #Project84. 84 reflective of the number of men who take their own lives every single week in the U.K, in 2018. The statues on the roof were representations of real people who had sadly died by suicide. The statues were created by friends and family who had all lost a loved one.
I started to read the stories that were shared, as part of the #Project84 campaign and it struck me – for over a decade I had hidden the biggest part of me from everyone that I met.
I sadly lost my father to suicide at the age of 12 and ever since that moment I decide to not talk about it, in fact I often made up a lie to anyone new that I met, just to avoid the conversation and to ever expose the reality of my childhood.
In all honesty, I felt ashamed up until the 28th March 2018. Hearing the stories of other people who have also suffered, who had the same unanswered questions and have experienced pain like me, showed me that I didn’t need to keep this a secret anymore.
The work of CALM installed an energy in me, and I knew that I wanted to drop the façade. I channeled as much energy as I could into making sure that nobody else ever would have to suffer in silence.
How has KIND partnered with CALM and how is this helping to create a culture of care?
It was a moment where everything aligned. I realised at an early stage how lucky I am to be working for a company that supports me to be open personally, but also has my back to make a big difference to our wider workplace and communities.
For me, it is the people that make a workplace and I’m blessed to work with so many people who have created a culture of care, as you say. My colleagues, but I’d rather use the term ‘friends’, played a significant role in me first speaking about mental health. I wouldn’t have started on this journey if it wasn’t for them.
We have now officially partnered with CALM to raise funds, so that the charity can continue answering lifesaving calls on their helpline. Throughout 2021, we will be raising funds through various activations, all in aid of CALM.
In terms of the campaign itself, I think it’s fair to say 2020 was a difficult year for us all. But while the world seemed to pause, we saw that kindness most certainly continued. This is at the heart of our campaign; we want kindness to continue. So, as we head into 2021 we’re encouraging the nation to strengthen their mental health by exercising kindness.
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We believe that kindness is at the heart of our individual and collective mental health. At KIND we believe that small acts of kindness can not only support our own mental health, but that of those around us too.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that being kind is one of the best ways to support mental health, but this fact isn’t widely discussed in culture. What we also know is that the work of CALM is so important right now, so we are keen to amplify CALM’s voice throughout our activations this year.
What other mental health and wellbeing initiatives have had the most impact within your organisation?
I believe that we have done a good job so far in creating a culture of care, compassion, and kindness. Over the last couple of years at KIND we have also trained associates in Mental Health First Aid (via MHFA England). The skills that are learnt on the MHFA course are invaluable and having associates equipped with this knowledge is important to us.
Last year we also launched an internal wellness week. This was a powerful way to connect with employees during the difficult times we were facing due to COVID. The wellness week was led by our associates which is extremely empowering. I loved experiencing such a range of sessions. Community is so important and through the wellness week we created a global wellness community. Huge credit to the team who led this at KIND!
That said, we are of course constantly looking to better what we do, and we need to make sure we are constantly evolving and reacting to the world we live in.
How do you juggle driving this agenda forward with your day to day role at KIND?
I think in the early stages, I didn’t do a great job in managing my own energy. There is a fine line. You want to drive the agenda forward, but you need to make sure you’re being kind to yourself. For me, it’s about holding myself accountable and making sure that I’m managing my energy to the best of my ability (that too is far from perfect, but I’m doing my best). Sometimes there needs to be a reality check – ‘practice what you preach’.
I’m lucky to have such amazing colleagues – the wider team do a great job in driving this agenda forward. For it to be a movement that is going to have impact, it needs to be a group effort. Also, it’s important to have senior leaders who are advocates and we certainly do have that.
Can you tell us a bit about your work with retail partners to amplify the reach of the campaign and bring more and more organisations on board with this agenda?
We are so proud about this and it has been a huge team effort from everyone at KIND. We have really taken our efforts one step further. Throughout 2021, at specific times, KIND will be making a 5p donation to the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) for every pack sold. We are running this from January to March with WHSmith, who are matching the donation and Tesco in February.
We will also be donating to CALM via our direct to consumer site. The team have done a fantastic job in bringing this to life through our best selling Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt bar.
Engaging with our retail partners is so important to us at KIND. Throughout our work, we want to make sure that the employees within our retailer partners are also connected to this campaign. We aim to do this through mental health webinars and our KIND Hero Award for employees. It really is great to work with our retail partners in this way.
About Harry Corin
Harry Corin is Mental Health and Projects Manager at KIND. In this role, he is responsible for driving the internal and external agenda on mental health at KIND. He also co-led the introduction of Mental Health First Aiders to the business.
At the age of 12, Harry lost his father to suicide. Harry believes that nobody must suffer in silence and now he reflects on his story so that nobody must suffer in the same way that he did. He shares his story through a true narrative of hope and kindness. Harry was published on the InsideOut Leaderboard 2020 for his willingness to speak out about his own lived experience and drive change in the workplace.