Getting in the CALM zone

Part of what makes Manifest completely unique (and one of the many reasons I love working here) is that they let you do pro bono work for charity.

So when we were given the opportunity to get involved with the male suicide charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) last year as part of its 10-year anniversary celebration with Enjoy Yourself, we jumped at the chance. Our outreach focussed around getting people to come down to the event at The Brewhouse on the 26th of March to raise awareness of the cause.

But before I get into the in’s and out’s of what we did and how we did it, let me explain just what CALM is. The Campaign Against Living Miserably started off as a pilot project in Manchester on Dec 15th 1997 and was rolled out to Merseyside and Cumbria in 2000, followed by Luton & Bedfordshire. The charity took on its current form in 2006 under the leadership of Jane Powell who’s been with the charity since its conception.

CALM was founded to support men and offer them counselling both in charity-run support groups and through its helpline.

As women’s role in the world has undergone dramatic change over the past 40 years, for men it has remained much the same. With many still adhering to the ‘strong and silent’ stereotype that is heroed in the media that discourages them from talking about their problems. One of CALM’s key objectives is to challenge this ideology and encourage men to seek help when they need it rather than resorting to suicide. We were shocked at one of CALM’s key statistics that revealed suicide as the biggest killer of men under 45!

Depression and suicide amongst men are things that are rarely talked about, and when we discussed it with the wider team, I was surprised by how many of us had been affected by it.

We kicked off the project and began speaking to our media contacts, as well as influencers who we know were passionate about the cause. Both of UNILAD’s founders Sam Bentley and Liam Harrington immediately came back and said they would love to get involved. The UNILAD platform has in the past worked with homeless charities to raise awareness around their cause and encourage followers to start talking about serious issues. The pair suggested we film a video during the anniversary event encouraging the personalities that support the cause to speak openly about their experiences with depression and suicide. Liam and Sam also suggested speaking to their fellow entrepreneur Jamal Edwards, founder of SBTV who was also keen to get involved as he’d previously worked with the charity.

Through our media outreach, we secured some brilliant hits that included Time Out online and print who listed the event as one of its top 20 things to do over the Bank Holiday, as well as Shortlist.co.uk featuring it as part of its Bank Holiday round-up.

Ted Young, the Editor of Metro was also keen to get involved and requested that Jamal, Liam and Sam come in for an interview. The result was beyond anything we could have imagined, a double page in the following week’s paper! The interview created a huge buzz around the anniversary event, with many taking to social media to air their disbelief at just how prevalent suicide amongst men is today.

The video UNILAD filmed during the event on the 26th of March included interviews with some of the headline acts involved from Eddy Temple Morris to Xylaroo and Majestic. All of whom have experienced suicide and depression first hand through their friends and family. The video included key statistics from the charity and was viewed by nearly half a million people. The majority of the comments were supportive with viewers discussing their own experiences and just how helpful CALM would have been to their friends and family had they known about the support they could have received.

It was an incredibly rewarding experience for the entire team, as it really showed just how powerful PR is. Although column inches are incredible, it was seeing the conversation unfold on social media and encouraging people to talk about their experiences of depression that really made this project something special.

Cool. Show me more stuff like this.