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Neil Laybourn & Jonny Benjamin announced as Fundraising Convention Plenary Speakers

Neil Laybourn & Jonny Benjamin announced as Fundraising Convention Plenary Speakers

The Institute of Fundraising has announced that Neil Laybourn, Founder of This Can Happen, and mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin MBE will be the Plenary Speakers for July’s Fundraising Convention.

Laybourn (main image: left) and Benjamin (right) will speak on the second day of Convention, Tuesday 2 July.

Jonny Benjamin MBE is an award-winning mental health campaigner, film producer, public speaker, writer and vlogger. At 20 he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and ten years ago met Neil Laybourn when he stopped to talk to Benjamin who at the time was sitting by Waterloo Bridge contemplating suicide. Talking to Laybourn persuaded him to take a step back, and his 2014 social media campaign with Rethink Mental Illness to #FindMike: the man who talked him out of jumping off the bridge, went viral and led to Benjamin becoming a prominent spokesperson on the subject of suicide.

He now speaks publicly about living with mental illness and has written articles and given interviews on TV, radio and in print around the world to help educate and break stigma. He has also produced and presented documentaries on BBC Three and Channel 4 on the subjects of mental health and suicide.

In 2016 Benjamin also launched ThinkWell, a mental health programme for schools, and in 2017 wrote the first of two books on mental health entitled The Stranger On The Bridge.

Laybourn was also recognised for his part in the #FindMike campaign, with a Pride of Britain award in 2014. In 2017 he came up with the idea for This Can Happen – a mental health conference tackling challenges in the workplace. In the same year he co-founded the international mental health campaigning organisation You Alright Mate? to bring business leaders, fellow campaigners and international support organisations together.

Most recently Laybourn co-founded the charity Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma to raise funds for preventative mental health and young people’s mental health solutions and in July was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Bristol University for work in mental health campaigning and advocacy work, alongside Benjamin.

Together, the two men have spent the last four years helping organisations from schools and universities to large corporates in the UK and across the world tackle the stigma of mental health and offer support to workers and students facing challenges.

More information on the Convention programme is available on the site.

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.

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