“I did so many things that I would never have otherwise chosen to do, and took so much away from them. I now cannot wait to go bird watching again, and hope to use some of the Fresh Air Fridays methods in my home life”
“The opportunity to network with some brilliant, likeminded people.”
“The balance of organised sessions and networking was just right”
“The sessions, the people, the atmosphere - it's a really great event.”
“Realising other people have the same problems as I do!! Jonny Benjamin obviously!”
“The agenda was so good, so much to choose from, and showed real understanding of what our challenges are at the coalface. Who even says that about a conference though? ’Hey, great agenda…‘”
“Being in the field is so much more relaxed and less stuffy than other conferences I've attended.”
“People were quick to talk and start a conversation which is hugely helpful when you struggle with social anxiety. It made the sessions more relaxed and enjoyable.”
“I got the head space to reflect and relax, it was a really comfortable environment to be in and I didn't expect that. I am feeling better after the event and to me that balance was not what I expected and feeling re-energised. Thank you Comms-unplugged”
“I love the vibe from the field, I feel very lucky to be a part of such a special club. In Clare's session she asked us to reflect on how we felt being at CU and to draw a picture. I drew a bursting open treasure chest full of beautiful things. I felt it was a little empty and uninspired before CU19 but over the few days the treasure filled up to bursting and now I am sharing it with my colleagues back in work. Totally loved the whole experience.”
“The whole package was brilliant. The fact we were unplugged enabled us to engage with each other and be present. Everyone should spend a couple of days a year unplugged! The planning, preparation, being looked after throughout the time in the field and little touches were superb.”
“The Unplugged experience builds more than networks - it nurtures relationships. It was so lovely to take a step back and watch the new Unpluggers make friends and catch the CU bug, like we did in the first year. The whole atmosphere was wonderful this year. Bravo x”
“It all worked so well! The people, presentations, workshops, location - Dorset countryside :) the marquees with fairy lights! Loved it! :) ”
“What I really noticed was that even though it's grown in size and the range of speakers/sessions has gone up a level the magic of that first year in the field is still 100% there. It's just brilliant.”
“It is the fantastic combination of a beautiful peaceful setting and like minded individuals that makes the event what it is.”
“It was totally unique and not like anything I've ever been to before. It was just brilliant. Such a unique vibe.”
“Nobody was there to show off, all there to acknowledge we have shared challenges, sometimes struggle, need to look after each other and ourselves. The community that's built up now is great to be part of. I'm proud to be an unplugger and look forward to contributing to its continuing success.”
Author, vlogger, film-maker, mental health campaigner
A moving story well told, openness about mental health, a great big dose of social media used to positive effect, charity campaigning and a happy ending. Jonny's session has got it all!
Jonny Benjamin MBE is an award-winning mental health campaigner, film producer, public speaker, writer and vlogger.
At the age of 20 he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar, and later began making films on YouTube about the condition that have been watched by millions of people.
Jonny now speaks publicly about living with mental illness and has written articles and given various 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.
His 2014 social media campaign with Rethink Mental Illness to #findMike, the man who talked him out of jumping off a bridge when he was suicidal, went viral and led to Jonny becoming a prominent spokesperson on the subject of suicide.
In 2016 Jonny launched ThinkWell, a mental health programme for schools, which has so far been into secondary schools across the UK with huge success.
Jonny spent 2017 writing the first of two books on mental health that was published in May 2018. His second book, currently titled The Book Of Hope, will be a collection of quotes, poems and stories by himself and others to inspire recovery and hope. It will be published in 2020.
In 2019 Jonny will launch new mental health charity, Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma, together with Neil. Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma is a grant-giving organisation which aims to provide mental health support to young people, their families and teachers.
Founding Director and Chairman, Olives et al
If you've ever wanted to see how disruption leads to success, Giles is your man!
This opening session will challenge how you view work and maybe even life, and leave you motivated to shake things up, for the better.
Expelled twice, once by his father, Giles' best qualification is a B in O Level Metalwork. After a disastrous education Giles joined the Army and spent 10 years building stuff, blowing it up, marching about a bit and not getting caught. On leaving he spent a year in the music business creating and managing a boy band before selling everything he owned and setting off on a year long honeymoon with his new wife, Annie, travelling around the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa on two motorbikes.
On the return from the trip the couple set up Olives Et Al having spotted a non existent gap in a non existent market. So he knows a bit about being disruptive!
20 years later the company now employs more than 70 people and supplies over 6,000 outlets across the UK and beyond. Over the years they have built up an enviable reputation for innovative products and remarkable marketing backed up by excellent service and a leadership style founded on the basis of honesty and integrity.
Giles says the only reason he ended up starting his own business was no-one else would employ him. We're not sure we agree…
Deputy Director of Communications, Defra, and Head of Communications, Environment Agency
Managing crises whilst maintaining your personal resilience
Us comms pros thrive on a crisis - but do we know our tipping points and how to look after ourselves during and after an incident?
Mark is a Deputy Director of Communications in Defra, and leads operational and local communications for the department and four of its arm's length bodies. He also heads up communications at the Environment Agency, leading 100 staff across operational and national teams.
Mark will lead a workshop sharing some personal experiences and coping strategies, and run an interactive exercise where you'll identify your own resilience, tipping points, and coping strategies.
Mark started out in editorial and publishing roles, working for five years at a consumer magazine publishing company. His specialist areas include strategic planning, crisis communications, operational communications, change management, staff engagement and stakeholder relations. His incident experience includes ash dieback in 2012, and floods in 2009 and 2015/16. His most recent roles include interim Director of Communications at Defra, Head of Communications at the Forestry Commission and Head of External Relations at the Environment Agency. He also led transformation to a modern operating model for Defra group's 250 Communications staff.
Chief Executive, BCP Council
Comms role in an organisation's cultural health
A rare and valuable chance to get a Chief Exec's perspective on the value of comms to organisational culture, and consider the role comms has in creating a sense of belonging amongst your fellow employees.
As Chief Executive of one of the newest and largest local authorities in the country, Graham is in the midst of developing BCP Council's corporate culture. BCP Council was created in April 2019, bringing together staff from Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and Dorset Council's to create a brand new unitary authority - doesn't that give a sense of the culture change task in hand?! Previously, Graham was Chief Executive at the Land Registry, as well as Thurrock Council and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
In Graham's workshop, you'll discuss what an organisation needs from comms when supporting the culture of an organisation, and take part in practical exercises to plot your personal, team and organisation's cultures. An absolute must for any colleagues with an internal comms remit, or those of you interested in the psychology of belonging…
Head of Communication and Engagement, Devon and Cornwall Police, and Dorset Police
Brand new tips for social media success!
Wherever you work in comms, social media will now be a mainstream tool in your comms kit of choice. But how do you keep up and manage to stand out amongst the millions of other accounts? Tanya and her colleague Kristian share insights on their success.
Leading a team who are brilliantly innovative at creating engaging and fresh social content, Tanya will run a highly interactive session sharing tips and insight into the success of both Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police on various social media platforms; with a particular focus on empowering those beyond the comms team. Joined by her colleague Geographic Communications Officer Kristian Ward, this unstoppable duo bring you best practice social media comms and then some!
Political Correspondent, BBC South
From the BBC's local democracy reporting service to top tips for getting your story broadcast, Emily will bring advice and insights galore to the Comms Unplugged field.
Essex girl Emily may not have grown up in Dorset, but since moving to Bournemouth in 1999 to set up commercial youth radio station The NRG (now Fire FM), Emily has well and truly made it her home.
Now Political Reporter for BBC South, Emily will be in our field leading a workshop on 24/7 media, how to get your story on the BBC and what journalists really think of politicians and spin doctors! With great tips on defining local news content, how to target TV news, what the media needs from us as comms professionals this will be an unmissable workshop for anyone working in a media-focused role. Finishing with a practical media interview exercise, there will surely be some fun as well!
Mental health campaigner
Leanne will deliver an interactive workshop exploring how we can all contribute to a big conversation.
Got a story to tell, but fearful of telling it? Want to take on a challenge that will put you in the limelight but worried about taking centre stage? This one's for you!
Leanne Ehren has been turning tricks in the comms industry for seven years after moving into the discipline following a career in newspaper journalism. Her experience lies mainly in the public sector within the emergency services.
She is a mental health and wellbeing advocate for communicators - more by circumstance than by choice. Leanne was diagnosed with PTSD after working as part of the teams that managed the Manchester Arena Terror Attack in 2017. It took her almost a year to be able to talk about her diagnosis, for fear it would negatively affect her reputation and professional standing, but now there's no stopping her as she speaks out about not just her experience, but also as a voice to many others who have shared their stories with her.
We all have our challenges to overcome in life and while you may not believe it now, the very thought of standing up in front of a small room of people to talk, would petrify her. So how does she do it? Come along to the workshop to find out more. PS. She might even bring her incredibly wonderful dog along!
Head of Communications for Forest Research (part of the Forestry Commission)
Clare's interactive session on reflection will offer up some tips and methods on how reflection can work for you both in the workplace and as an aid to your wellbeing.
Clare joined the Civil Service in 2000 after 11 years in local radio. She worked in the Ministry of Defence in a number of communications roles and developed training courses in communications for the Armed Forces.
Her work has taken her across Whitehall and the globe, working with governments in the US, Australia, Canada, across Europe and the Middle East. She also established the first insight and evaluation team in the MOD and I was part of the very first GCS Senior Talent cohort.
She became Head of Communications for Forest Research (part of the Forestry Commission) in 2017, looking after a full range of communication and engagement activities for the GB-wide agency.
She's a CIPR Founding Chartered Practitioner, a member of the CIPR Council this year, and one of the CIPR's 70 at 70. She volunteers her skills to help the Civil Service Lifeboat Fund with their website and social media, often fundraises for the RNLI, and regularly helps out at her local Brownies unit.
She's currently researching a PhD looking at the evaluation of government communications, including the use of reflective practice. Her interactive session on reflection will give some background on what it is and offer up some tips and methods on how reflection can work for you both in the workplace and as an aid to your wellbeing.
“Wise Old Uncle”
After his epic opening session at CU18, Matt is back in the field with a workshop that is guaranteed to inspire and motivate.
After stepping in with less than 48 hours notice after our opening speaker had to pull out through injury in 2018, Matt has earned himself a special place in the heart of our Comms Unplugged tent of fame!
Matt originally trained as a designer, then spent five years at one of the world's best specialist art schools, where, amongst other things, he mastered the art of being curious. And he's not stopped since.
Branding, positioning, content marketing, digital transformation, innovation… Matt is a marketeer guaranteed to bring a fresh perspective.
He's back in our field in 2019, this time running a workshop that is bound to ignite the curiosity in every creative communicator. Join him, and you might just get a glimpse of the world through a different lens than most - Matt's.
Non-executive Director for Dorset HealthCare and the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
Heather brings her perspective and experience to the field again with top tips and advice.
Heather Baily has more than ten years of experience in senior executive positions in policing and in criminal justice roles. She spent much of her career in London in the Metropolitan Police Service as both a Detective and a uniform officer. She held senior management roles in training and as the Borough commander for Hammersmith and Fulham before moving to Hertfordshire Constabulary as Assistant and later Deputy Chief Constable.
She is a passionate advocate of creating a supportive working environment for everyone and led a corporate health project in Hertfordshire to support officers and staff. She was the national co-ordinator for mentoring senior women in the service and was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 2011 in recognition of her work in this field.
She is now a Non-Executive Director with Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust and with the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland.
Executive Coach and communications professional
Saranne has nearly 20 years' experience in PR and communications and has held internal and external facing roles in public and private sector organisations.
More recently, she trained as an executive coach and now splits her time between communications contracts and coaching. She is also a Fresh Air Fridays facilitator as well as having responsibility for their marketing.
Anyone who's ever worked with Saranne would say she's pretty organised and loves a bit of process! Learning about, and trying, different systems to prioritise and manage workload has been really important to Saranne (who's actually a born procrastinator!) to help make the best of her time.
In this session she'll share wisdom from some experts, her tricks (and some stuff that really didn't work!) and get you thinking about how you work now and what changes you could make.
Rock decorator extraordinaire (and school teacher!)
A calming hour of rock decorating with Georgina Bottomley
Georgie is a married Dorset mum of two, secondary school teacher and lover of all things crafty!
In late 2017, after randomly finding a painted stone one day, she decided to join the rock painting and hiding craze. Fast forward 9 months or so and she had hidden 3-400 rocks for people to find.
Many were posted online by the finders and Georgie was asked time and time again if she would sell them. Eventually she said ‘yes’ and now has daily sales in her Etsy shop with well over 100 designs listed. She says she finds creating the stones really relaxing, particularly after a hard day persuading teenagers to care about their punctuation!
Georgie met Sally (one of the founders of Comms Unplugged) at Dorset Rock Choir and they struck up a friendship based on music, cake and stationery (the best kind)!
This year she will be running a workshop to teach unpluggers the art of decoupage on some gorgeous, sparkly Spanish cobbles. You'll then be let loose with paint pens on some silky smooth duck egg cobbles… so get ready to find your creative mojo in the marquee!
Phil Jewitt, Communications and Marketing Business Partner, Leeds City Council
Photography for wellbeing is a session that aims to explore or even reconnect people with the nice bits of photography, away from sensationalism, permissions and deadlines our jobs can sometimes entail.
Phil will lead an interactive workshop exploring the art, craft, soul and emotional connection of taking pictures that make you happy.
We will include a countryside walk to look at light and shade and cover some tips that might help improve your images.
A non-technical session, so you won't need any photographic knowledge or equipment but if you have cameras and phones then bring them along (no social sharing until you leave the field!).
Phil has over 30 years' experience in communications, starting out in graphic design, retraining in PR and is currently communications and marketing business partner at Leeds City Council.
A member of Leeds Photographic Society, the oldest active society in the world, Phil has been looking at ethics of photography since 2015 following controversial publication of images of migrants' unsuccessful crossing of the Mediterranean. Phil was also caught up in the 2015 Paris attacks and experienced the reality and aftermath of such an event.
Phil has since focused (pun intended!) on photography as a means of escaping the rat race and improving wellbeing. You can see Phil's photos on Instagram and his website. Learning by doing, his work was recently shortlisted in a national competition.
Aromatherapist, Reflexologist, Reiki Healer
Explore the powerful properties of essential oils, along with simple hand and wrist pressure point techniques to reduce stress and anxiety and stimulate a positive mood.
Julie Joy is a qualified Aromatherapist, Reflexologist, Reiki Healer and Further and Adult Education Teacher, with nearly thirty years' experience. She works as a Psychic Clairvoyant and intuitive therapist. Combining her healing and natural therapies, she offers unique, bespoke treatments, helping clients to address and heal their issues. The teaching of meditation techniques, breathing and visualisation is a key factor in her work.
Julie is also a professional photographic artist, creating unique works of art.
Combining her ITEC therapies training with her art college background has enhanced the way Julie approaches all aspects of her life. She sees all the details in situations, both inside and out.
Successfully gaining a degree in Photographic Practice at the Arts University Bournemouth allowed a professional blending of skills to occur. Her visual work makes what she calls “the space between the sounds” visible…. This complements her therapy work by helping clients to look at and process life issues clearly.
Her workshop will explore essential oils and how their powerful fragrances and healing properties have unique signatures or vibrations. You'll also learn about pressure points on the hands and wrists, and how simple techniques can be used to reduce stress, anxiety, headaches and pain, and stimulate positivity. You'll get the opportunity to explore the aspects of Holistic Aromatherapy, learning just how powerful natural remedies can be. You will be encouraged to access your own intuition and make personal oil prescriptions.
More about Julie at: http://www.juliejoy.co.uk/home/home.htm
Dorset Wildlife Trust
Get Britain Buzzing with Dorset Wildlife Trust
Katie Wilkinson of Dorset Wildlife Trust brings the charity's “Get Dorset Buzzing” campaign to our field! Whether you've a city balcony or spacious garden, there will be loads you can do to support wildlife right on your doorstep.
Katie will bring along tips for wildlife gardening at home, and you'll get to plant your own pollinator-friendly pot to take back with you to your part of the world - getting not just Dorset buzzing, but Britain too!
All &apound;&apound;&apound; to Dorset Wildlife Trust and Dorset Mind
Some quite literally awesome prizes, with all money raised going to Dorset Wildlife Trust and Dorset Mind.
Birds of Poole Harbour
Guided bird-spotting walk through the Dorset countryside
‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ is a charity completely dedicated to educating people on the stunning variety of bird life in one of the country's most picturesque locations. The charity's founder, Paul, will take us on a walk directly from Burnbake, to spot - and listen out for - a variety of birdlife, including, if we are lucky, rare ospreys, recently reintroduced to the area by Birds of Poole Harbour.
Carers' Development Lead, Dorset HealthCare and laughter yoga practitioner
Laughter yoga with Pat Wilkins
Pat's day job is as Carers' Development Lead for Dorset HealthCare where she champions the rights of carers, helps find them the support they need and trains NHS staff in working with carers.
Her first experience of laughter yoga was on World Mental Health day in 2009. It had such an impact on her she decided to go and train to become a certified laughter yoga leader.
Laughter yoga was created by Dr Madan Kataria, “The Laughter Guru”, who believes in the power of laughter and its ability to provide a range of holistic benefits.
Pat's incorporated this into her work with carers and professionals alike, earning positive feedback from people who've come to realise the benefits of laughter yoga for physical, mental and emotional health.
The techniques include deep breathing exercises and the use of laughter to help oxygenate the body and brain, improving energy and general health.
Pat promises to get everyone in the marquee laughing, releasing endorphins and improving circulation as well as helping to find ways to tackle negative emotions including depression, anxiety and stress.
Here at Fresh Air Fridays we teach simple tools and techniques to improve people's understanding of how to support their own wellbeing. We do this through taking groups of people outside into nature and exploring 12 key themes in a way that allows them to build good habits to enjoy healthier, happier lives with greater purpose and joy!
We do this through taking groups of people outside into nature and exploring 12 key themes in a way that allows them to build good habits to enjoy healthier, happier lives with greater purpose and joy!
From ‘Filling Yourself Up First’ to stretching our ‘Comfort Zones’ and deciding who we want in ‘Our Team’, our proven programme explores different aspects of wellbeing - encouraging personal responsibility and building resilience which helps people create more open, trusting relationships with their colleagues and customers.
We're excited to be part of the very first Comms Unplugged event and will run ‘taster’ sessions so you can experience this for yourself. We'd love to show you what we're all about and how Fresh Air Fridays could support you and your teams!
Let Irena Beniston guide you through a non-challenging, not-too-serious hour of hatha yoga.
Fresh with ideas from her Thai Yoga Retreat, and brimming with breathing techniques from a visit to an Indian Ashram, Irena's natural warmth will have you relaxing into a downward dog in no time. Please bring mats / towels and wear comfortable, loose clothing.
No twitter - far too yogi :-)
Back by popular demand, the Vent Tent offers a non-facilitated, safe and confidential space to share your problems and talk through solutions, in groups on 121s. Get help and support others, with fellow comms colleagues who feel your pain!
The Vent Tent offers a calm and relaxing zone to do just that. Whether it's common issues, or unique aversions, there's no better place to get it all out. You'll already be Unplugged from the distractions of email and gadgets, and be amongst friends. A guaranteed cathartic experience that might even lead to solutions, acceptance, avoidance, analysis and more. Failing that, just have a good scream.
Live and Unplugged
Tom Clements is back in the tent for a great Friday night set. Bring your best singing voices!
Be prepared to get hooked on quirk pop's Dorset duo
Brimming with new ideas and funky sounds, Lauren Stubbs and Harris Worth have recently launched their first joint project Less Than Nine. The talented duo from Poole in Dorset are set to spread their innovative sound far and wide - and Comms Unplugged is among the first gigs they'll play.
With roots in underground dance music and events management, DJ and producer Harris, 24, has spent the last six years building his knowledge and experience running a drum and bass label (Wrec Records).
Singer-songwriter Lauren, 19, who has classical music training in piano and voice, has been writing and performing her music for the last 10 years. Her clear vocals, catchy melodies and lyrics reflecting real life combine to hook you in.
Fiery Fox wood-fired pizzas
The Fiery Fox Pizza crew are BACK!
Now a firm favourite in the Comms Unplugged field, the Fiery Fox Pizza company bring us a range of completely delicious pizzas, all freshly prepared and cooked on-site. If you're camping over on Friday night, these fabulous pizzas are included in your event ticket price
The Perfect Pig bring Asian flavours to the field
Amazing street food aromas and flavours will fill our field on Thursday evening.
If you're camping Thursday night, dinner is included in your ticket price!
Coffee ground to order by James from Taste the Bean
We'll give you voucher to swap for coffee!
Matt Tillman of Burnbake's own Snack Shack brings breakfast to our campers
Breakfast in the field - included in overnighters' ticket price!
Awesome cake throughout and our Friday lunchtime caterers
Amazing cakes, and a completely delicious local lunch
Who doesn't love eating in the fresh air? It's good for the soul and somehow everything tastes just that little bit better. Whether it's the smell of bacon breakfast baps, freshly brewed coffee or handmade pizzas wafting across the campsite, Comms Unplugged may not have mains power, but we're not compromising on giving you a good feed-up!
Whether it's the smell of bacon breakfast baps, freshly brewed coffee or handmade pizzas wafting across the campsite, Comms Unplugged may not have mains power, but we’re not compromising on giving you a good feed-up!
And there'll be no over-priced conference hotel bar charging you £8.50 for a small glass of pinot, oh no. Just bring your own! Whether it's bubbles or beer or just a nice cup of tea that takes your fancy of an evening, there will be plenty of downtime to relax and enjoy a tipple or two, if that's your thing.
Deputy Director for OD, Communication and Participation at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust.
After a degree in languages I trained to be a journo at the local paper in my home town. A few years later I hopped the fence into local gov comms, with a stint as a freelance and finally a move to the NHS.
Love the variety and the challenges of public sector comms and engagement, and the great people you get to work with. Value great writing, good humour, funky ideas and positive relationships.
Outside work it's two girls, one dog, one guinea pig, baking, singing (Rock Choir), movies, books, drawing, codeword puzzles and travel.
I am Shared Head of Communication and Marketing, Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole.
I studied a PR degree in my hometown of Bournemouth, which included a placement at the council. I loved it so much I went back after the obligatory post-graduation travelling and haven't left since!
After a dabble in the glamping business for a couple of seasons just two years ago (alongside my full time job at Bournemouth - what was I thinking?), I realised that the grass really wasn't greener, even in a glamping field, and embraced my job with newfound enthusiasm & appreciation. Why wouldn't I? I love the unending change, the requisite drive for creativity, and the innovation & commitment I see each day… oh, and I get to live by the sea.
Out of work passions - travel, conservation, food, wine, and my cat Marble.
My son claims I “work on The Twitter”. But really, I am a communications consultant, creator of comms2point0, and owner of Creative Communicators Ltd.
My 21-year career in communications, marketing and PR spans 10 years as Head of Communications within local government, a director level role in the NHS and five years in private sector marketing, winning some awards with my teams along the way.
I have hosted and spoken at more than 100 events across the UK, Europe and the Middle East, on integrating social media for business, building communications and engagement strategies, and communicating in a digital world.
And amongst many, many projects I am most proud to deliver the unique annual UnAwards, now in their fourth year.
I love the communications community and my mission is to fly a flag for it wherever possible.
I'm also passionate about all things Birmingham, including our very average football team, and in between trying to be a decent dad I love music, film & TV, cooking, trips to the seaside and the occasional visit to the gym.