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Founders Zoe and Neil Reflect on This Can Happen 2018

2019 is in full swing and employers around the UK are planning the year ahead for their staff. Many organisations are turning to one of last year’s highlights for ideas and strategies for looking after their most important asset – their people. This Can Happen 2018 well and truly happened. It was buzzy, exciting and bursting with ground-breaking content from some of the country’s leading mental health experts, who brought wisdom and pioneering ideas to 750+ guests. Everyone was focussed on finding solutions to improve awareness, acceptance and action on mental health issues within their workforce.

Zoe Sinclair and Neil Laybourn, This Can Happen’s founders, reflect on the incredible event and its enormous impact on organisations across the UK.

Neil: “One of the highlights for me was the personal support from companies that Jonny (Benjamin) and I have spoken to over the years. We have given blood, sweat and tears to make something like this possible by campaigning all over the world and it simply wouldn’t have happened without those companies getting behind us.

“To see this idea turned into a reality and to leave a legacy for the work that began over a simple conversation on Waterloo Bridge in 2008 makes me realise that anything is possible and has given me the confidence to believe in what I am doing.

“A major highlight was Prince William and the Royal Foundation showing further and continued support for the work we do to improve mental health awareness. I mean, Wow!”

Zoe: “The launch event achieved incredible things. Content and discussions that have never been heard before created an atmosphere and ambiance that was hard to define but was something truly special. A number of senior people who attended said that they felt that people really wanted to open up to each other. These were people who started to have conversations with colleagues that they’d never had before. Everyone came together to discuss personal issues no matter what level they were or what size their company.

“Of course having Prince William was a complete privilege. His compassion when meeting people who have struggled with their mental health resonated very strongly for me. We were so grateful that he attended.”

Neil also spoke candidly about how learning to run a successful conference and events business has not been easy and has required him to step out of his comfort zone and continually challenge himself personally and professionally.

“It felt like a gift. It has really helped me grow,” he added. “I’m simply an ex-personal trainer, turned accidental mental health advocate. I have never been trained to have conversations in boardrooms, or speak to thousands of people and inspire them to make change. I never went to college, university or got an MBA, but my gut tells me that it’s about how you connect with people and get people to believe in your vison.

“I have learned that people want to connect authentically with other people, regardless of being the CEO or an intern, and I will continue this approach as more businesses ask me to help them with their mental health journey.

“I look back on the 20th November 2018 and think… ‘did that really happen?’ and the answer is, yes it really did! Now when I say ‘This Can Happen’ in any situation in life, I know it’s the truth!”

As for This Can Happen 2019 – it’s in the planning! The founders have reiterated their desire to continue these conversations and to strive for further solutions for improved workplace mental health.

Team This Can Happen warmly invites businesses of any size to join us on our journey. Book your tickets here – 25% discount on tickets until 28th February!

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Interested in becoming a This Can Happen Friend? Find out more about our 12 month rolling programme to support employee mental health strategies within your workplace.


We are delighted to announce our new partnership with This Can Happen, supporting us in offering the right mental health and wellbeing support to all our staff in every country across our EMEA region. For our people to truly thrive and be at their happiest, creative best, mental well-being has to be at the centre of what we do.

Michael Frohlich , EMEA CEO and Global Transformation Lead, Weber Shandwick