Former trawlerman nets mental health mentors to bring elite leadership consulting group to Yorkshire

Pictured at the launch of Think GiANT at The Deep Business Centre are (from left) Paul Longley, Christina Colmer-McHugh, Scott Clark, Freya Cross, Luke Ambler and Leon McQuade.

A former trawlerman who set up his own consultancy to turn the tide on mental health issues in the workplace has now assembled a team of experts to help employers communicate with colleagues.

Paul Longley, who spent 32 years in the fishing and food industries before being made redundant in 2019, has recruited Scott Clark and Leon McQuade, co-founders of tech and cyber security specialist Think Cloud, as partners in Think GiANT.

They are joined in leading the new organisation by Christina Colmer-McHugh, an award-winning mental health advocate and inventor and founder of the Moodbeam real-time happiness surveying tool.

Paul, Leon and Scott are students of Steve Cockram, the co-founder of elite leadership consulting group GiANT Worldwide and Partner of GiANT London whose global work includes collaborations with several Fortune 500 companies. His mentoring led to a flourishing partnership with the Think GiANT team initially launching a successful leadership series on their podcast, The Hack, and now bringing the GiANT toolkit and software to East Yorkshire.

In addition to guiding employers in transforming their leadership voice, Think GiANT’s work draws on the expertise of Halifax-based, nationwide male suicide prevention charity Andy’s Man Club, whose chair and co-founder Luke Ambler was guest speaker at the launch workshop on inclusive leadership held at the Business Centre.

Paul, a former facilitator and project development champion of Andy’s Man Club who set up his own mental health first aid training company in 2020, said: “I left school with no qualifications at all and my first job was on the trawlers, following in my dad’s footsteps. I later moved into fish processing but when I was made redundant I took the opportunity to go to college and train up in mental health first aid.

“I’d been struggling with my own mental health for over 20 years. Thanks to attending Andy’s Man Club, those overwhelming weeks and months have turned into difficult hours and minutes that I now have the tools to manage, and that enabled me to set up Think Mental Health.

“Through that, I have worked with businesses in 23 countries which between them employ about 250,000 people. Speaking to the leaders and the managers of those companies, I find they all have a passion to support their employees but sometimes they don’t know how to do that. I spotted a gap in communication, and I knew the GiANT toolkit could massively help with that.”

Paul, the operational lead for Think GiANT, selected his colleagues based on the support they have provided for him during his own mental health journey.

He said: “They have all inspired me and I wanted to bring them in to do something really special. We all have our own approach, different ways of presenting, and we all deeply care about people. We want to apply our different communications skills and unique voices and come together to form a brilliant team.”

David Bean, Operations Director with Lambson Building Products Limited of Castleford, attended the launch having experienced Paul’s work with Think Mental Health.
He said: “As a business we were suffering from poor communication. It was as if we would transmit in one language and receive in another. The main take away from the masterclass was to fully understand your own voice order, and what it’s like to be on the other side of you.”

Julie Thurlow, Director of Hinks & Co Ltd insurance brokers in Hull, said: “As culture starts at the top of any organisation, it is very important to have continued refreshers on you as an individual. Throughout your own work journey, you can change dramatically so discovering your leadership voice is an excellent tool. Communicating this through the organisation can give individuals an understanding why someone acts or reacts as they do.”

Freya Cross, Head of Business and Corporate at The Deep, said: “We have worked closely with Think Cloud and Andy’s Man Club for many years helping to get their messages about mental health and wellbeing out to our clients in the Business Centre and further afield. We were keen to build on that by hosting the launch of Think GiANT, which is a direct result of their successful partnerships with business.

“The credentials of all Think GiANT leaders came across loud and clear as the launch attracted large and small organisations with one thing in common – a commitment to caring about their people. That ability to reach such a high calibre audience augurs well for the future.”

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