Some of you might already know that I’ve been out and about this year on the conference circuit doing my bit to try and change the way we talk about mental health in the context of the financial services sector, a marketplace (1) traditionally male dominated and as a result (2) really rather bad at dealing with issues of wellness. This initiative started when Paul Feeney (CEO of Quilter) opened up about his own issues and has since been galvanised and led by a brilliant young chap by the name of Ollie Smith. We did a podcast together 6 months ago or so where I talked about a horrible time I went through back in 2012 – it has since become one of their most listened to podcasts since inception.

Now, fortunately, things never got so bad for me that I had to call upon the work of the Samaritans, but for many reasons, it’s a charity close to the hearts of a number of us at the lang cat. (Not to mention the fact that one of us is an actual Samaritan!) For that reason, we’ve chosen to spend much of 2019 trying to raise some cash for the incredible work that they do. We’ve also done other bits and bobs such as going into their Edinburgh office and transforming their garden to brighten the place up for the volunteers.

Our biggest event this year though is just around the corner. On Saturday 28th September, a bunch of lang cats are going to make the journey over to the Samaritans branch in Dunfermline, where I grew up (the town, not the Samaritans branch, that would have been weird) and then walk the 20 and a bit miles over to lang cat HQ in sunny Leith; famous for Trainspotting, The Proclaimers and some world class consultancy services. I’m sorry to say but there’s no avoiding the fact that it will include a poignant trip over the Forth Road Bridge, a place where many young men – recently including a schoolfriend of mine and Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit – have tragically taken their own lives over the years. A stark reminder of why we’re doing what we’re doing to support the Samaritans.

In a conversation with our contact at Edinburgh Samaritans a wee while back, they told us that it costs around five grand to keep one of their branches open for a month, so that swiftly became our fundraising target for this initiative. I’m delighted to say that it’s looking like we may well reach it, with a wee bit to go in the last couple of weeks. I’m also delighted that we’re going to be joined on the walk by the aforementioned Ollie Smith and industry giant and all round good guy, Tom McPhail of Hargreaves Lansdown.

If you would like to help us reach our target then here is our fundraising page:

Honestly though, having said all that, I totally understand if you choose not to donate. We’re all inundated by worthy causes each day and at the same time, it probably pales in comparison to some of the triathlon/multiple marathon challenges that others put themselves through.

But I’m chuffed that you’ve taken the time to read this and maybe even have had a look at the podcast or some of the other stuff that Ollie has done. And especially if you work in Financial Services…maybe take 5 minutes to think how we could make it a better place to work.

All the best and thanks for your time,