We are so fortunate to have some wonderful supporters who really believe in tackling the mental health epidemic in the UK. Our ambassadors are dedicated to spreading the word about My Black Dog and fundraising for us. If you are interested in helping to raise awareness and want to support our cause, then become an ambassador today!
Hi I’m Jules, I have lived in theSouth-East of England all my life, presently in Kent. I am married with 3children and 4 grand-children.
Professionally I originally worked intechnical IT roles, but after a while I decided that I would prefer to workwith people more than computers, so I began to switch to more managerial roles,ultimately running my own IT consultancy before I retired.
15 years ago, having had some challengeswith my own mental health, I became interested in helping others with thoseaspects of their lives and became a volunteer for Samaritans.
In October 2020 I heard Eddy Temple-Morris talking about My Black Dog on Virgin Radio and thought it was a superb idea. I signed up and two and a half years later I still really enjoy being one of the MBD volunteer pack.
I am now also the My Black Dog RotaCo-Ordinator, working with the other volunteers to make sure we have adequate volunteer cover on our shifts.
My Black Dog is unique, and I am happy and proud to be a part of it.
Mental health stigma issomething I have felt all my life.Though finding strength during therapy Ibegan to reach out to others and realised I wasn’t alone.
I feel that by being partof My Black Dog, as a volunteer gave me the chance to help others challengestigma that can be so detrimental and to send the message that it is ok, youare not alone, be brave and reach out! To be a volunteer gave me courage withmy own abilities to reach out and listen to someone, it reminded me of the bestparts of humanity, and I finally felt accepted within a team. The message MyBlack Dog sends out is one that ultimately saved me. No matter the stigma, theshame, the hopelessness, we are in this together, talk to someone who gets it.The first step is the hardest, but once you are there i’ts easier to moveforward.
I feel privilege, hopeand inspiration to be part of the management team where I can support thevolunteers in supporting others. With amazing encouragement from the volunteersI work with, as well as being in a supportive, loving, close knit team ofmanagers, I feel like I am able to thrive and excel in my passions and work.
Having joined the team in 2023, Lauren supports the volunteers here at My Black Dog with the recruitment, onboarding, and retention of the volunteers. Having worked in the NHS, both in clinical and management roles, Lauren brings this experience to My Black Dog.
Having supported the volunteers in my local NHS Trust, I have seen first-hand the effect that NHS waiting times and the pandemic has had on individual’s mental health. I’ve always had a passion for mental health, whether that’s providing a listening ear or being with someone on their darkest days, it;s always been important to me that people feel they have somewhere to turn. Finding My Black Dog achieves exactly that as the volunteers are here to support people at all stages of their mental health journey by talking to someone who really does get it.
I consider it a real privilege to support the volunteers and make sure we are giving them the tools they need to support our service users. The My Black Dog pack are some of the most supportive people you will ever meet, and I’m thrilled to have joined the team to help support the volunteers.
I chose to volunteer for my black dog because I have suffered with depression for over 20 years, it is currently under control, and I live a relatively normal life with my family and friends, when in the past I wondered if that would ever be possible. I felt it would have been good if someone had been there to listen to me when I was suffering and so I offered to do that for others. I have a keen interest in the subject of mental health and I am a “champion” for mental health awareness and support in my workplace.
Since joining the My Black Dog Pack, as well as helping to support people with their mental health, I have met some wonderful people who I hope will be lifelong friends, and I have been able to take part in some unique experiences. I have learnt to understand more about my own mental health and have gone on to study the subject in more depth with local education providers and my employer.
Everybody deserves to have somebody to be kind to them, especially during times when they might be struggling to be kind to themselves
Hi I’m Dom and I'm a married 53 year old with 4 kids, 2 dogs and apparently a kitten on the way.
I have struggled with my mental health for many years but in 2017 I went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with depression. My life improved slightly but over the Christmas of 2017 I drank daily which negated my medication and in January 2018 I attempted to commit suicide with sleeping tablets and alcohol. I was incredibly lucky that I was found and the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital almost 14 hours later.
I voluntarily went into a mental health ward to distance myself from everything and everyone and give myself time to think and importantly time to talk.
A lot has happened since then, a lot of talking and lot of learning and self-discovery. I have learnt that if you are open with people about how you feel they are more likely to help than turn away.
I volunteer at My Black Dog as a way of giving back, I never want anyone to get to the point I did and make sure they know someone is always there to listen to them.
Five years ago I started with chronic migraines, was told there was no cure and that I would have to live with it. The pain was unbearable and never went, it felt like constant torture. I blamed myself, my friends, my job and my family and I distanced myself from so many people, I blamed the doctors for not making me better, the darkness soon took hold of me and I felt hopeless and isolated, that’s when the suicidal thoughts started.
Luckily I reached out to a chat line, they saved my life, they told me to confide in someone I could trust. I chose my sister and life slowly felt lighter. I knew I had a battle on my hands, I changed my diet and my lifestyle but I wasn’t alone, and very slowly started getting a day free of migraine and the light started to come back.
I told myself that when I was strong enough, I would use my experience to help others. Whilst on a meditation course I shared my story with my class and my teacher mentioned My Black Dog - I got in touch and knew straight away I had found my people; I love the team and every person I speak to on chats I feel so blessed to connect with. I try share my story with others so people can understand it’s ok to talk about it - we all have a darkness within us we just need someone to show us the light.
I’ve been struggling with my mental health since the passing of my Mum, I lost her 13 days before my 10th birthday. Ever since I lost her I’ve felt many mixed emotions that I still don’t understand which has lead me to some dark places even from a young age. I’ve always felt alone due to my ASD and passing of my Mum, it made me feel no one understood me, which made me have dark thoughts. Dealing with these low thoughts and hurt/pain does make me feel lonely, isolated, trapped, angry, confused, anxious and many other feelings. To be heard and not to be made to feel alone or ashamed of how I feel. My Black Dog makes me feel like I do matter and I do deserve to be heard and supported.
Since I’ve been volunteering for My Black Dog, meeting a bunch of lovely people, it’s made me feel I’m not alone anymore. Reaching out for support, talking to volunteers, I do find it easier to express my feelings. If it weren’t for these lovely people, I’m unsure if I’ll be as strong as I am right now which is keeping me going.
I do have message for people who struggle with their Mental Health or any for of disability - Don’t let people make you feel ashamed and make you feel you can’t accomplish anything. I’m hoping I get a 2:2 when I graduate university on my undergraduate degree so I can do a Master’s degree in Performance Analysis. My college asked my sister and I to come back to college after when we both graduate Uni to talk about our stories and grades we both achieved to inspire more young women in sport and beyond.
I was looking for something to do which had more meaning than my usual work when I came across My Black Dog at CarFest. Something just struck a chord with me; instantly I felt passionate about the cause and that I had to give it a go. I was so nervous I’d say something wrong but the My Black Dog team support from the beginning was amazing and I soon gained confidence. I still check sometimes with the shift supervisor and they are always so constructive. Working with the team at CarFest the following you confirmed the fabulous nature of the My Black Dog team. When I have had good feedback from a website guest, it makes it all worth it. I feel so privileged to be part of the My Black Dog team and hope I make a difference to people who can find themselves in a dark place.
Harry began his career at Haymarket Publishing, Express Newspapers and Telegraph Media Group, before joining the start-up City AM team in 2005. He was appointed Commercial Director in 2010 and Chief Operating Officer in 2018. Harry has also worked extensively in hospitality, as Commercial Director for the Boisdale Restaurant Group (2014-2018), and more recently as a consultant to Rare Restaurants, owners Gaucho and M. Harry lives in Twickenham with his wife and three daughters and is Chair of Governors to the Trafalgar Schools Federation.
Alice is Director of EMEA Business Administration within Financial Services with over 15 years experience working for top institutions in the industry.
She is married with three children and lives in Kent. As an approved Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor and keen speaker, she uses her platform to tell her personal story, champion women and promote the administrative profession.
Alice also promotes happiness by living positively and supports others to do the same.
Mark Birrell, CEO Castel Underwriting Agencies Limited, Entrepreneur, Cyclist and Mental Health Advocate.
Kate Lawler is a Sony-nominated radio presenter, voiceover artist and dog fanatic, currently hosting weekday afternoons on Virgin Radio between 1-4.
Multi award winning musician, author, Woman Of The Year 2020, mental health survivor and activist
James is a Brand Manager in the UK cycling industry, with 15 years of voluntary experience with a broad range of charities, mainly focusing on raising funding and awareness through physical challenges, both his own and assist others in their endeavours.
When Niki came to me with the idea for My Black Dog, I had been working with the suicide charity, CALM, for over a decade.
I watched them grow into a big, successful and financially sustainable charity, they didn’t need me any more. Niki and My Black Dog did. She couldn’t raise funds the normal way because the traditional funders were too short sighted to see the very real benefit of talking to someone like you. A non professional. Someone who’s been there and can really empathise with you if you’re struggling.
My Black Dog is powered by volunteers and that means it’s powered by love. They don’t get any money for what they do and neither do I. And when you chat to our volunteers that’s what you get and that’s what you feel. Love. Empathy. Understanding.
I’m so proud of my association with this amazing charity and I really hope to see it grow in a similar way. We’re not focused on any gender, or any specific mental health issue, we’re only focused on helping people and with your help as a volunteer or a supporter or a fundraiser, we can help more and more of them.
I have been unwell for a long time and unable to work. Like many, that made me feel depressed and worthless as I wanted to be able to help people or contribute to society in some way - I felt my illness had robbed me of that. I found My Black Dog and feel a lot better mentally as a result of being able to help others like me and feeling like I'm a part of a team. I also have great fellow volunteers and if I need any support on shift there are very supporting supervisors who help you through any tough chats and check in on you after. A great charity that I am glad I've found. Thank you, My Black Dog.
At the age of 17 I started to suffer from depression. I spent a large chunk of the end of my teenage years in bed alone not wanting to live this life anymore. I felt empty and numb like I wasn’t even alive. I stopped doing things, I isolated myself from everyone and went to a place I never want to go back to. I also dealt with a lot of social anxiety and body dysmorphia. After having my mum repeatedly beg me to get help, I finally decided to see a therapist and eventually went on medication to get me to a point where I was able to help myself. I began to build up healthier coping mechanisms and started to relearn to love myself. Four years later and I'm able to go out and socialise, travel, make plans for my future and most importantly I’m kind to myself. I still have days when I’m scared I’m back at 17 but I hold on to hope and love and take things one step at a time. If I didn’t reach out for help when I did I don’t know what would have happened.
My Black Dog is a beautiful platform encouraging people to talk. Through volunteering, it has enabled me to support those that are in a similar position of struggling. After my first chat with a service user I knew this was what I was meant to be doing. Being able to listen to someone and having them open up to you is one thing, but then being told that you have given them hope is something even more incredible. Being in such dark times myself to then being able to do this is something I’m most proud of. I am so thankful for organisations like My Black Dog and amazing people like Niki for supporting people who feel like they can’t speak to anyone else. We all need each other whether we know it or not. Life is so fragile and yet so beautiful. If you’re in a position in which you can use your own experiences to help others, I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s a beautiful thing to have the opportunity and to be healthy enough to do this.
Anita Guru has worked in Learning and Development for over 15 years across sectors such as charity, government, FMCG and Professional Services. Anita has been involved in leading on Wellbeing projects at her current place of work, BDO LLP. She has been on a personal journey with mental illness where she was diagnosed with Complex PTSD in 2017 after an initial in patient stay at a mental health care facility. She has since been raising awareness around mental health in an attempt to break the stigma in the workplace, and through other external platforms. Anita is a Wellbeing Champion and Mental Health First Aider. Through her journey, Anita has written poetry which documents her experiences and is also a qualified transformational life coach.
Five years ago, I knew that there were things going on in my mind that I didn’t understand, I’d feel really low for no conceivable reason. On the outside things were good, supportive family and decent job but this feeling kept coming to the surface. I (wrongly) buried these feelings for years until they came flooding to the surface. I began to feel like I was failing at everything I was doing, I dreaded waking up each day. Things got really bad over a period of weeks, building to one day where I physically couldn’t pick myself up off the floor. At this point I knew I needed to get help as it was having an effect on my family. I initially spoke to a GP who diagnosed me with Depression and Anxiety, I was prescribed some medication and also referred for CBT therapy. It took time but gradually I started to feel a bit like my old self.
The reasonI volunteer for My Black Dog is that I want to help people who were in a similar position to myself. I want to turn my experience into something positive and help in any way that I can. I hate the thought of people feeling as low and helpless as I did on my darkest day. It’s a great charity to volunteer for, it’s different in being an online chat, we’re there for people who may not understand what they are feeling or haven’t said it out loud. We have a great support network for the volunteers, a hands-on volunteer manager and a fantastic, approachable CEO.
Hello, I'm Niki. I started My Black Dog after years of battling with clinical depression. I went through some VERY dark times, which are hard to describe or even talk about, I know how tough it is to reach out to others about what you are going through. For a long time I felt very ashamed of my mental health, I thought I was the only person who felt this way, that there was something deeply dark and wrong with me. Since starting My Black Dog, I have seen how many people have struggled with their mental health. I want you to know, you are NOT alone in how you feel - My Black Dog are here for you to talk to. I am immensely proud of the My Black Dog pack! All of them have been through really hard experiences, and they are here to share that with you. They are kind, empathetic and truly inspiring. Each day, they show me that you are not alone, even in the darkest of days, you are never alone.
Assistant for Virgin Radio's Chris Evans, Marathon Runner and all round Force of Nature!
Emily is a Charity sector CEO and expert with over 25 years in the large children’s charities including NSPCC and Childline. She has experience in safeguarding, running large volunteer services, fundraising, policy, public affairs, lobbying, campaigning and a recognised media spokesperson. She is passionate about mental health having campaigned for better support for children and adults throughout her career.
Bespoke Woodworker with Ivy Leaf Woodwork Ltd, Firefighter, Fundraiser, Hiker and Mental health campaigner.
Iain is a qualified accountant with more than thirty years experience in the Lloyd's Insurance market, having held senior executive leadership roles for the majority of this time. He is currently non-executive chair of a Lloyd's Managing Agency. Iain brings a long career of board governance and financial management experience to MBD