In 2022, In Tune PR’s Founder, Darren Weale, co-created a new campaign called Let’s Talk Better, with Mindset and Wellbeing Coach, Zeenat Noorani. The campaign aims to be a catalyst for better conversations, with a practical focus on Bromley, and a toolkit to inspire change elsewhere. The debut, launch event on 24th February was a great success, very much exciting those who attended, including the Mayor of Bromley, Cllr Hannah Gray, and stimulating the kind of conversations that people rarely have in public or in private. You can read more from the Let’s Talk Better blog, here.
Now, the second event has been lined up. With the theme of Loneliness and Connection, this has a variety of speakers, performers and experiences, and has a focus on one of the great sadnesses of contemporary society – loneliness – and one of the great antidotes to it and much more, connection. This event takes place on 26th May, and features the new Mayor of Bromley, and what is again a unique mix of talents.
Over the past couple of days, I have sat here thinking about the Lets Talk Better event on Loneliness and Connection which will be held on the 26th of May 2023.
And recently, having a conversation with Helayna Carole Jenkins, Principal Loneliness Campion of Bromley, and Darren Weale, I knew that in my thinking I was not alone. And that our past experiences had similar linings.
The word #loneliness has really got me thinking even more deeply, especially because I have been impacted by this feeling of isolation on many occasions for numerous factors in life, and there are people really close to me who are suffering from this and it is impacting their #mentalhealth .
I want to ask you your thoughts on #loneliness … Often the perception is that it is associated with the elderly generation… This is not the case.
👉🏼 Can you be happy but be lonely at the same time? 👉🏼 How do you see or define the meaning of loneliness and the impact it can have on our mental #wellbeing? 👉🏼 Is it possible to feel connected and lonely at the same time? 👉🏼 Is it always possible to see signs of when someone is lonely? 👉🏼 What factors come into play that you believe can lead to loneliness?
We are so lucky and thanks to the proliferation of digital technology we can remain connected- pretty much anytime and anywhere with people at our fingertips. Yet, at the same time, there are people that feel lonely and sad but not necessarily depressed. Though depression is a growing concern as a direct impact of loneliness, more and more.
🤔Do you ever get the feeling, somewhere between your chest and your gut — this sensation of something being not quite right, that something is missing? A feeling of being more, yet less, connected than ever. And it’s a feeling that appears to be becoming increasingly common.
‼️Please do not suffer in silence. Reach out to someone (family member, trusted friend, or a professional) and talk. There is hope and light at the end of the tunnel.
If you know that someone is feeling down and their behaviour patterns have changed, reach out to them and give them your ear and support.
The Let’s Talk Better campaign is built on a series of principles, summed up as the Declaration of Let’s Talk Better, below. This is our view based on our thinking and experience to date, but this will change in some respects going forwards, as life and the times we live in are not a constant.
‘All of us can learn to be better at talking and listening to fellow humans’*;
‘The only way that we are going to achieve genuine closeness is to have better conversations with each other’*;
The value of conversation runs across society, from boardrooms to bedrooms, from schools to nursing homes, from parliament to the pub;
Difficult issues can be resolved by cultivating understanding and the ability to have positive conversations;
Cultures of silence and taboos do harm. It is often important to #breakthesilence and to talk;
We need to talk better and more consistently about the truly big issues where action is imperative and do not allow them to be marginalised by transitory headlines. Then more issues that matter will be resolved, from climate change to toxic workplaces, and more;
Talking better helps to build wellbeing, improve relationships, deepen friendships and shared understanding, reduces loneliness, helps mental health, and should fight bigotry and discrimination;
Better conversations include listening to each other in a calm, open and respectful way on all topics. There are limits, however. Dr Charlotte Fox Weber has spoken of a current trend towards ‘living out loud”. She refers to it as “a broadcasting of emotions that can be overly exposing when people feel that they have to tell their entire story to everyone. Sometimes you can speak your truth, you can know your truth, without having to say everything to everyone”. Some matters are, consequently, best shared with and addressed by qualified expert coaches and therapists;
Change is achievable. Pressures such as new technology and changes to work-life balance do not inevitably mean that people’s attention continues to erode, and that the art of conversation continues to decline. We can innovate and help people to talk more and in better ways, to achieve better mindsets and over all wellbeing.
It was just the start, just the one, debut Let’s Talk Better campaign event.
You know when something has been a success when people talk about it even before you, the organisers, do. We, Zeenat Noorani and Darren Weale, were quite taken back by the positive energy and comments received, even before the event, held on 24th February 2023, had started!
More on the event itself in a moment, but, first, to share some of those comments.
Even as the book displays were put away, the balloons removed, the projector and screen packed up, and plates emptied of Sri Lankan cuisine headed for the kitchen of Bromley’s Copper Ceylon restaurant, feedback on the launch was already on its way. Over the rest of the day unsolicited LinkedIn posts and private messages, and Instagram posts and messages, started to emerge from attendees.
One, for example, was a private message from Miguel Rivera, who had driven 40 miles to this debut event, and hugged Darren twice at the end, “Great to see and speak with you at the ‘Let’s Talk Better Campaign Launch’. Thoroughly enjoyed the event and I think what you and Zee are doing with this campaign is absolutely BRILLIANT❗👍😊… I’m certainly going to do everything I can to support you both and get the word out there.” Miguel had suffered from depression for many years and has now emerged on the other side.
Emma Meheux messaged, “I think what you are doing with the Let’s Talk Better brand/ campaign is a fantastic idea and something like this really is needed I think! Massive well done to you and Zeenat for launching it so well!”
We felt strongly about the event, too. In this, Zeenat speaks for both of us, “The launch event really uplifted me and inspired me. What I’m doing is so important. I could feel the energy and the passion of the people for our topics. I’m overwhelmed with joy. The fact that people posted before we did? I’m gobsmacked with that. I was mesmerised by the fact that people talked and engaged and weren’t even on their phones! People there who had never spoken about some topics and they’re now thinking about sharing and moving forward in life. That was beautiful.”
We had this from Bromley-based charity CASPA – which provides support and enriching experiences to autistic/neurodivergent children, young people and their families – on LinkedIn:
“We want to say a huge Thank you to “Let’s Talk Better” who invited CASPA Sarah & Kim to their launch event on Friday at Copper Ceylon (gorgeous venue). They have chosen CASPA as their charity and we are so grateful. 💚 A fantastic initiative to Get people talking, inspire better conversations and help stop the stigma surrounding Mental health. In a world post covid, this is exactly what is needed! #CASPA#Charity#Bromley#Autismacceptance#mentalhealth”
Helayna Carole Jenkins from Bromley Council also posted on LinkedIn. Helayna’s role is ‘Helping to tackle Loneliness in the London Borough of Bromley’, working with Cllr Mike Botting, Bromley’s Loneliness Champion:
“Today I had the pleasure of attending a fantastic event in London Borough of Bromley launching the #letstalkbetter Campaign. The guest speakers, including the Mayor of Bromley Hannah Gray were incredibly poignant, thought provoking and brave. Conversations are crucial, especially around Taboo subjects which fester feelings of loneliness and social isolation regarding bullying, abuse, traumatic events, death, gender identity and culture… the list will forever go on.
“But opening up honestly without judgement, and speaking to those about your own experiences and asking about theirs, makes for a space which someone can be seen, and feel less alone. Conversations on matters that are tough to talk about are, but their impact is profound.
“I can’t wait to see what this campaign does. Lets keep the conversation going, and help tackle loneliness together.”
We held the event because we felt that people want and need better and different conversations, helping them to have better lives. They also need to have a catalyst and an opportunity to do that, and to be part of change.
Now, following the event, we don’t just feel this, we know it. In the About section of our website, we say that “We intend to change the world, one word at a time.” On Friday 24th February 2023, we saw exactly that beginning to happen. It was quite something.
For those who couldn’t make it, what did they miss?
The launch kicked off with a short sketch between Darren and Zeenat as we acted out an example of shockingly bad (and not all that uncommon) conversational behaviour, then each of us spoke on what the Let’s Talk Better campaign is about, before we introduced our guest speakers, and musical performer (see Zeenat’s comments below). We held an interactive ‘Talking Topics’ section, asking small groups of attendees to speak together on topics from sexual abuse to (the lack of) positive news. These were very popular. Bringing the conversational hubbub to a close proved pleasingly difficult!
Zeenat said later on her LinkedIn, “What a fantastic morning yesterday at the Let’s Talk Better campaign launch. A truly inspiring event. 😁 Without all of you being there and showing your support for something that is so important and close to my heart and to Darren Weale, this event would have not happened.
“Many thanks to our chosen local Bromley charity CASPA Sarah Towler and @Kim Thursfield for coming along and telling us more about what you do.
“A big thank you to The Mayor of Bromley Cllr Hannah Gray and the Deputy Mayor’s Consort [Stephen Wells] for speaking at our event and sharing a personal story with us. 💕
“Many thanks to Mark📚📦 Browne for sharing his story and how he was so close to taking his own life and to Oliver Anderson (a young local Bromley musician) who spoke about his challenges with drugs and suicidal thoughts; Lee Thomas of Newman Flexible Workspace for helping us prep resources and giving us the space to prep and plan; Haran, owner of Copper Ceylon for hosting our event and serving up some delicious Sri Lankan Canapes. And it was great to meet Helayna Carole Jenkins- LBofB Principal loneliness Champion.
“Finally, an enormous gracias to everyone who attended to support us on this magical day!
“It was wonderful to have so many people from different businesses sharing a common ground of the importance that communication plays in #mentalhealth and #wellbeing. Your support, your words of inspiration, and your donations to CASPA are truly appreciated. We have raised so far, a total of £278 💝
“A big special thanks to 📸 Pete Bresser for taking photos of the event!I can’t wait to see them. 😀
“Understanding the value of #communicating and #listening in all areas of life, from politics, relationships, loneliness, suicide, and much more can have a huge impact on one’s mental wellbeing and how we relate to others. Please connect and follow as there is so much more, yet, to come… Watch this space!”
Oliver Anderson, who performed a very emotional song of his own composition, ‘Aftershock’, earned extra praise from Zeenat and a huge hug at the end, “I’m so pleased I invited Oliver. I had goosebumps. He was so articulate and shared so openly about his journey. That’s not easy.”
Darren added, “I was overjoyed at how this first event went. As you can imagine, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes with this campaign, and that includes our receiving encouragement from a wide range of people, such as BBC Radio London presenter Kath Melandri, who said, “I think this is lovely, Let’s Talk is a beautiful campaign.” Similarly, psychotherapist Charlotte Fox Weber, who I quoted when I spoke at the launch, said in an email, ‘I’d be glad to help – let me know the next steps!’ People are really getting behind Let’s Talk Better.”
Cllr Hannah Gray, Mayor of Bromley, is very used to saying a few words at public events, and she said some telling ones here, notably, “We’re celebrating life and the power of ourselves, and to do a bit of good along the way.”
The most common question we have had since the launch is: when is the next event?
We plan to answer that soon. Let’s Talk Better in Bromley again, and beyond.
Let’s Talk Better is a new campaign about conversation, with a practical focus in the London borough of Bromley and a toolkit to inspire better conversations more widely. It is led by Wellbeing and Mindset Coach Zeenat Noorani and Darren Weale, a Public Relations (PR) Consultant, who also jointly present the Bromley Buzz podcast.
BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Nihal Arthenayake, author of the book Let’s Talk, and others have shown that there are numerous problems in society that could be addressed if we have better conversations as individuals, in groups, and more generally. For example, loneliness, the enduring stigma around numerous topics that need to be more openly discussed and dealt with, mental health, and more.
This first Let’s Talk Better face to face event in Bromley will introduce the campaign locally, and bring together people involved in related activities and projects in the local area.
It will be held in the Copper Ceylon in Bromley town centre – an award-winning restaurant known for hosting charitable events. The event will include networking opportunities between 11am and 1pm, and an uplifting agenda, with the Cllr Hannah Gray, Mayor of Bromley, kindly making an appearance. We will also be joined by Sarah Towler, CEO of locally-based charity CASPA, our nominated charity for 2023, for whom we are fundraising – link to contribute here.
The event fee includes a welcome drink, hors d’oeuvres, and attendees can take advantage of a special offer of 20% off food and drink if they stay (and talk!) over lunch at the end of the event.
The first Lets Talk Better event is being planned for early in 2023.
It will be held in Bromley’s Copper Ceylon restaurant. Details to follow.
In the meantime, co-founder of the Lets Talk Better campaign, Darren Weale, appeared on Eddie Nestor’s show on BBC Radio London, for whom broadcaster Kath Melandri was sitting in. We talked about the campaign, and Kath said, “Lets Talk is a beautiful campaign, I love that you’re doing it locally as well”. Kath contributed some thoughts on better conversations that will be shared in our Toolkit as it develops.
On Friday 14th October 2022, the Let’s Talk better campaign to was launched live on air in Zeenat Noorani’s Mindset Matters Radio show, together with Darren Weale of In Tune PR.
Wellbeing and Mindset Coach Zeenat of Vida de la Mariposa Coaching and Darren feel passionately that ‘All of us can learn to be better at talking and listening to fellow humans’. That is a line from the book ‘Let’s Talk’ by broadcaster Nihal Arthanayake, but it is the tip of an iceberg, as there are many more threads to be woven into that simple statement. Above all, as Zeenat says, ‘We know there is a problem on many levels, but we also know something can be done about it, and that is exactly what we will be doing.’
Let’s Talk Better – a campaign and what will become a toolkit to inspire better conversations – is a collaboration between Wellbeing and Mindset Coach Zeenat Noorani and Darren Weale, a Public Relations (PR) consultant.
Where did Let’s Talk better start? For Zeenat, when she became a Wellbeing and Mindset Coach and she realised she wanted to make a difference to people’s mental health. She recognised that there is a mental health crisis, and part of it even now is the many areas of stigma around the topics that contains. So, she started an online radio show to help change that, named Mindset Matters. On her show, every week she talks about many areas of mental health and has guests who join her in talking about, de-mystifying, and offering advice around often taboo subjects such as suicide.
For Darren, a professional communicator, it began when he met Zeenat and she brought home to him how important and how under-addressed much of mental health is. Add in hearing BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Nihal Arthenayake interview author Johan Hari about his book ‘Stolen Focus’ analysing changes in the way people interact and appreciate information, and then Nihal’s book on conversation itself, Let’s Talk, which can be summed up in words he quoted from Lorraine Kelly, “The art of conversation is dying.” Sometimes, death isn’t inevitable, and Darren and Zeenat concluded that by working together something really could be done.
By then, Darren and Zeenat had already come together to launch and co-present the Bromley Buzz podcast, which is bringing together and sharing good things in what is our local community. That showed us both even more the value of conversation. So, influenced by Nihal and Johan’s books, and others by Stacey Dooley, Radhika Sanghani, Max Dickins, and more, we aim to add something those books haven’t provided. The beginnings of a solution. Answers to these key questions: what should we talk about? How can we create change and DO SOMETHING? Our early answers are shared elsewhere on this, our website.