Saturday, 31 October 2015

You cannot see? Open your eyes DWP!

You cannot see? Open your eyes DWP!

Hello and welcome to the Support in Mind Scotland, Members Event edition of #Daneyblogs.

For those of you who don’t know, Support in Mind Scotland a national charity who seek to support and empower all those affected by mental illness, including family members, carers and supporters, and you can find more information about them here on their brand new, relaunched website:

I’m delighted to say that Support in Mind Scotland is a charity who have been in my life for the past 3 years now (Can’t believe 3 years have flown in so quick!). Yesterday’s Members Event was an uplifting reminder of just how fantastic they are, how connected they are with the people they help and how much they’ve done for me personally.

Support in Mind Scotland gave me my first professional internship back in the beginning of 2013 through the Queen Margaret University, Placement Speed Networking Event- which coincidentally took place again this week!.

I went into Support in Mind Scotland with my big heart and genuine intentions to help people, and they gave me their time, expertise and assistance to brush up my skills so I could thrive as a professional. I’m forever grateful to them for giving me a chance and for still being a key cheerleader of my work today.

So, whilst I could write all day about how fantastic they are overall, I’m excited to tell you about the key highlights from yesterday’s event (in other words, I’ll get to the point!)

Yesterday’s Member’s Event was just heart-warming from start to finish! We were delighted to see the official ‘all members in the room’ premiere of the fantastic film called – You Cannot See:

You Cannot See is an innovative film by the Life Skills Project in Dumfries, focusing on the difficulties people with mental health issues encounter when undergoing employment and benefits assessments.

From the chuckles of hearing “Deirdre up the Day Centre” over and over, to tears in our eyes of seeing just what a negative impact the Employment and Benefits assessments have had on people’s lives, this film is powerful and I highly recommend all of you watch it! It gives a real, no holds barred account of what life is really like for those who suffer with mental illness.

I openly admit I have struggled in the past with mental health issues, and being in that room yesterday with people who have faced bigger struggles than I have had in the past was humbling and a great reminder of just how lucky I am.

Watching the You Cannot See film just cemented my views that mental health still isn’t being taken seriously by DWP professionals and these ‘assessments’ are a disgrace and unfit for purpose.

With the film watched and my eyes dried from the couple tears that escaped from my emotions, next up was Karen Armstrong from The Scottish Government who spoke about Creating a Fairer Scotland. Now, Karen’s address really touched my heart for a couple of reasons, but most notably her genuine enthusiasm for helping people in need and for using all her resources to make a difference. She began telling us about mentoring, and about her mentor- straight away I envisaged this CEO type figure mentoring her through the mechanical aspects of her job, but, no! Her mentor is someone who is long term unemployed and has felt the bitter bite of the DWP’s degrading tactics, such as benefit sanctioning. She told us that she learns so much from her mentor, and I just think it speaks volumes and puts my faith back in the Scottish Government that they’re listening to real people who have real experience of this issue.

From discussing the Creating Fairer Scotland with Karen and then beginning group chats, I was very touched when Frances Simpson, CEO of Support in Mind made reference in her address to the Place of Safety project she and I worked very hard on last year. When I heard her say “We have Dane here who really led on this project…” I was bursting with pride and gratitude one year on.

The report for this project we worked on which focused on gathering the experiences of those who had been mentally unwell and had been placed in police custody is available here >

To still be a member of Support in Mind Scotland fills me with pride. To have worked on such an important project and have my name on the publication one year on fills me with pride. To now be in discussions with them about becoming a board member fills me with hope, the hope I can make a difference and play a part in helping other families who have suffered or have been affected by mental health issues get the support they need, and to live life to their fullest.




Wednesday, 28 October 2015

#IndustryChats... with Stacey Dent, Account Assistant at Niche Works Marketing & Public Relations

#IndustryChats... with Stacey Dent, Account Assistant at Niche Works Marketing & Public Relations

Hello and welcome to the #IndustryChats edition of #Daneyblogs.

#IndustryChats is an exciting new mini blog series where I'm giving PR/Marketing professionals in employment guest spots on this blog. Their guest spots will focus on offering their expertise and advice to unemployed PR/Marketing graduates at the moment, with the aim of empowering us through tips/lessons they've learned from the industry.

So, as this blog is being led by a guest blogger with so much crucial advice to share, without further delay, I'd like to introduce you to the fabulous Stacey Dent, Account Assistant at Niche Works Marketing & Public Relations.

Stacey Dent

Stacey is a PR and media graduate from Queen Margaret University. During her time as a student she undertook multiple internships which gave her experience in both agency and in-house PR, marketing and event management.

Prior to this, Stacey studied at Cardonald College in Glasgow where she worked in a team of three organising The Write Stuff Awards, the largest student journalism awards in Scotland.

Stacey enjoys implementing Niche Works clients’ social media activity and is always on the lookout for the latest tips on how to maximise the benefits of social media. She also writes much of Niche Works clients’ monthly newsletters, helps the team out with copywriting and research projects, and takes care of monitoring media coverage. Recently Stacey has been involved with press release writing and securing client coverage as well as supporting the events management process for client events. 

Now Stacey let's begin #Industrychats

As you can see from the above, Stacey is a key figure in the PR industry and I'm delighted she has very kindly gave her time out of her busy schedule to answer the following questions which are on every unemployed PR/ Marketing graduates lips...

What's the first thing you do in the morning to set yourself up for a busy day ahead at work?

The first thing I do when I get to work is check through my emails. Then, I catch-up with online news and look through the newspapers for any client coverage or interesting articles.
How long have you worked for your organisation and what do you enjoy most about working there?
I’ve worked at Niche Works since August 2014 and enjoy the variety of the job. We have a wide range of clients, from hotels and restaurants to medical education and psychology, and every day is different. One day I can be writing copy such as press releases and newsletters, and the next day taking pictures and live tweeting at a client fashion show.
How would you say the PR/Marketing industry has changed from the first day you started your job where you are now, up until now?
I think the digital market is constantly growing with social media and blogs playing a big role in the way organisations reach their audiences.
What advice would you give you PR/Marketing graduates out there who are looking to secure a role like yours?
Keep trying and don’t give up! Unpaid internships are a great way to build up experience and make contacts so I’d recommend doing as many as you can. Also, attend networking events as you never know who you might meet and what opportunities there may be.
What recommendations would you make for the Employ Daney Campaign?
Keep putting yourself out there over Twitter and LinkedIn, and try to make sure you’re noticed by the right people.
and that's a wrap......
Thank you Stacey for your excellent responses. For further information on Niche Works Marketing and Public relations:
Check out the website:
Follow on Twitter: @NicheWorksPR
Like on Facebook: Niche Works PR & Marketing
On a closing note....
As a PR/Marketing graduate looking for work reading this, is there any questions you'd have asked alongside these? If so, comment below or email me so that they're incorporated into the next edition of #IndustryChats
As a PR/Marketing professional in employment, are you reading this and would like to get involved and offer your advice and empower unemployed PR/Marketing graduates? Email me I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Creative Writing with Changes… As told by Daney.

Creative Writing with Changes… As told by Daney.

Hello and welcome to the Creative Writing edition of #Daneyblogs. I’m going to turn this blank blog page into a creative space for sharing with you what I learned from the inspiring, ideas-stirring, ‘I didn’t want it to end’ creative writing course.

The Creative Changes course was hosted by the lovely Joanna Tindall, an experienced English teacher, on behalf of health & well-being focussed organisation, Changes Musselburgh. It was an absolute gem and I’m so glad I attended.

So, just what did I get out of attending Creative Changes?

·         Firstly and foremost, I faced one of my biggest fears…. Seeing a blank piece of white paper…and a question attached..

In the past I’ve been prone to panic at the sight of blank paper, I’ve been left with that knot in my stomach and watched the perfectionist side of me running wild with a million thoughts at once on what I can creatively do for the task at hand, then discounting all of the ideas, thinking ‘this isn’t good enough’ and then leaving myself feeling deflated.

Thankfully, as the years have gone on, I’ve got much better at taking control of this perfectionist side in me and the course helped me realise that my approach of not thinking, and just freestyling at first to get my thoughts flowing, really works. I also took comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one intimidated by a blank piece of paper, and that we, once we’re kinder to ourselves and get going, we can create magic!

·         Secondly, there is no right or wrong way to be creative in writing, however, you CAN get really creative with words

A lot of us get intimated, and put off creative writing as we think 1) ‘I don’t know what to write’ and 2) ‘What I write won’t be good enough’

Firstly, you (like me) need to sit down, stop thinking and write down all the thoughts that come to mind, then from there, pull out the really good points and develop from there.

Secondly, you (like me) need to be kinder to yourself and tell yourself that you’ve done great work before and you can do it again! I find now more than ever that every piece I write, whether for myself or an organisation, I learn something each time I do it. So, this course really taught me that I should just keep going for it, keep writing and see what exciting things come out from it.

So the course then had us look at words themselves…

Jo walked us through the words which are ‘go-to’, safe, overused words such as;






And then encouraged us to pro-actively create a word bank, other words we could use to replace these words, and make our pieces more imaginative and interesting. The examples we conjured up collaboratively were excellent.  

·         Thirdly, (and back to my 3 key points) I was challenged to show, not tell.


Instead of factually reporting an event, I had a go at showing my reader how the event unfolds instead of just telling it…

I had a go at doing this in the following piece:

“It stares at me from afar, its shiny, bright, ribbed wrapper. It feels cold, and firm and I stop myself from ripping it open. I can no longer wait… the anticipation is too much.. so I grab it and tear the packaging off… it smells so sugary and its sweet scent lingers under my nose. I take a bite… it’s like an explosion of sugary, sweet, sticky caramel and the roof of my mouth is covered. I feel no guilt for putting two pieces of the delicious, caramel, old friend of mine chocolate in my mouth at once. Caramel chocolate fills me with joy and puts a smile firmly on my face.”

I also created a haiku about a snowman…. See below:

A snowman is there

With the buttons neatly placed

His hat also is white

Now, yes, this haiku looks pretty basic, however, I was following the style of it which is words with 5 beats on the first line, 7 on the second and 5 on the third and last.. so it’s:

|A |snow|man|is|there



Another great part of the course, involved me being re-acquainted with key writing terms I hadn’t come across in years! (well, since the English exams at school days) such as simile, hyperbole etc.
We actively looked out for examples of them being used through reading an excellent piece called ‘The Trick is keep breathing’ written by the fabulous Janice Galloway. What I really enjoyed most is discussing our interpretation of what the writer was getting at. It was almost like a mini-book club. It was really enjoyable.

So, I’m bringing this blog to a close, and I’m going to end it on the 6 words I was asked to summarise my day, today 15/10/15 (at the time of writing) …. COME DANE WITH ME GOT PUBLISHED

I’m so happy to see that the East Lothian Courier published an article on my #ComeDaneWithMe event and that they mentioned Changes Musselburgh too. I think Changes are a fantastic organisation and I’m really looking forward to further volunteering with them.

Over and out for now,


Thursday, 8 October 2015

#ComeDaneWithMe…. It happened! All eyes were on me…

#ComeDaneWithMe…. It happened! All eyes were on me…

Hello and welcome to the #ComeDaneWithMe edition in the #Daneyblogs series. I want to start this blog by firstly saying how overwhelmed I am by the support and great response I’ve had from my family, my closest friends, my peers in the PR, Marketing world for #ComeDaneWithMe and of course, my Employ Daney campaign overall. Thank you.

Secondly, I would like to give a huge shout out to my fabulous #ComeDaneWithMe guests; Kay, Rachel and Yvonne, who came with an open mind,  a genuine interest in my campaign, the encouragement and feedback I need to succeed in achieving what I want from the Employ Daney campaign…. finding a PR/Marketing job.

Now, that my thank you are done…..let’s talk about how #ComeDaneWithMe went and what the highlights and key learning points for me were..

I made #ComeDaneWithMe happen…

I’m so proud of myself for making #ComeDaneWithMe happen and I’m genuinely sad it’s been and gone now! It was such a rich learning experience and it saw me adopt so many different roles. From Daney with the idea >> to Daney the PR person building relationships with the right people to make sure I had the fabulous guests I did and it could go ahead >> to Daney the marketing person, coming up with exciting and eye catching ways to keep interest in the event and using social media to my advantage >> to Daney the event organiser- sorting out the logistics of the event, how many people, drafting up a budget, selecting the venue, date and time etc. >> to Daney the chef and baker which saw me whip up a 3 course menu from scratch! >> And, of course, Daney the host…PHEW!  Yes, I was as busy as you can imagine! But do you know what? I loved every minute of it!

And #ComeDaneWithMe the ladies did…

The night started with the arrival of the lovely Kay. She had managed to find my place with the help of my personalised signage directing the ladies to the flat.  On a side note, I think it’s so important to clearly mark where your event is. Nothing frustrates people more than being lost!

Anyway, back to Kay, she came bearing Margarita, which was an ode to how we met. Kay and I had met a couple weeks previously at the snazzy El Toro Loco launch night where we chatted for like 3 minutes, blethered about blogging, and how tasty the burritos were. From there, and as a blogger myself, I knew she’d be ace to have at #ComeDaneWithMe and she came! Result!

Next up, came the fabulous Rachel, and Yvonne who came bearing prosecco as a gift to open when I do finally get a job, which I thought was such a thoughtful, lovely thing to do. Rachel and I studied at Queen Margaret University together. Having not had the pleasure of seeing her in ages, and with her digital marketing background, and general all round awesomeness, I decided she’d be a fantastic guest for #ComeDaneWithMe.

Yvonne, I’m very lucky to have known for a couple of years now. We worked together back in 2011 at Next Retail. She’s been a constant shoulder of support for the Employ Daney campaign, offering me tips, advice and information on sources of support I can tap into for help on the graduate job hunt. She has a strong digital marketing background too, she’s an all-round lovely person and I was delighted to have her as a guest for #ComeDaneWithMe.

So what did I have up my sleeve for #ComeDaneWithMe?

For #ComeDaneWithMe I wanted it to be fun, and very different, but engaging. So, instead of having placements at the table, we designed our own table mascots. I wanted the ladies to personalise their own space at the dinner table, so they could feel that the event was there’s too. I also had the #Daneysguestfact raffle (an ice-breaker), where each guest would pick three pieces of paper and answer the wide ranging questions which ranged from ‘who’s your favourite viral star online, to what’s your thoughts on the Facebook Dislike button, to what’s your least favourite destiny’s child song etc. I also had the golden ‘question time’ box which covered more questions related to the PR and Marketing industry. We needed no ice breakers, we chatted away the whole night with ease.

The hot topics for the evening were…..

>Digital marketing:  the importance of being clued up on google analytics and utilising google ad words effectively. There was just so much to chat about on this, it blew my mind!

>>Great networking events worth going to and where to find them

>>>>> Great places to volunteer which really facilitate finding a job and making best use of your time you’re giving for free

>>Employ Daney (of course) and what aspects have worked really well so far, and what I could do to make it even better. I was asked the golden questions:

‘What have you gained directly from your Employ Daney campaign?’ and I answered as following:

·         1 interview with a social enterprise supporting agency – was shortlisted but narrowly missed out on the job unfortunately

·         2 PR agencies requesting I submit my CV to them

·         Finding 2 networking events (El Toro Loco event & Opportunity Knocks event) to attend that I’d have not known about had I not did this campaign

·         An interesting topic to discuss in the other interviews I’ve had. Employers are always keen to know what I’ve been doing whilst job hunting. Being pro-active like this gives me the competitive edge 

‘How have you been promoting your Employ Daney Campaign and #ComeDaneWithMe event and what 3 key things have you learned through doing this?’

I’ve been promoting both Employ Daney and #ComeDaneWithMe through:

·         Facebook (Posting regular photos and updates on how the event is shaping up)


·         Twitter (getting involved in key Twitter initiatives such as #EastLothianHour; #ScotlandHour)

·         Linkedin (both as statuses and ‘publish post’)

·         Blogging (blogging regularly and covering other topics other than #ComeDaneWithMe so my audience doesn’t tune out)

·         Website (regularly updating my website to incorporate all the things I’ve been doing in terms of networking events, initiatives (I turned £4 Iceland gave me as a gesture for some spoiled chicken into £4 worth of food for the East Lothian Foodbank last Friday)

·         Attending Networking Events (working on the elevator pitch to sell myself and my campaign succinctly in 60 seconds… I’m still working on this!)

What’s worked well promotion wise for #ComeDaneWithMe?

>Not revealing my guests until the last minute built up suspense and excitement for my event. I revealed on Facebook and Twitter the night before.

>>I’ve found publishing the posts on Linkedin instead of posting as a status has worked really well as all my connections see it, with statuses, I’m never sure who’s seeing them and when!

>>>Blogging regularly and about different topics has worked really well as people seem to like my blogs

What were my 3 key pieces of advice from my #ComeDaneWithMe guests?

>Keep blogging, it’s a fantastic way to keep raising my profile to PR and Marketing employers

>>Keep networking and just keep putting myself out there! I never know who I may meet!

>>> Keep making chocolate brownies, after all, mine are “even better than a restaurant” J

What’s next for Employ Daney?

Well you’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled J

Daney over and out for now!
P.S. How GOOD was the Great British Bake Off last night! So happy Nadiya won!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Live each day like it’s your last..

Hello and welcome to blog number 6 in the #Daneyblogs series. What a week it has been! I’m dedicating this blog to 2 key characters from my working life who have sadly passed away this week and I want to share what I’ve learned from this.

I’d like to firstly say how saddened I am to hear that the fabulous, Helen Morton (an awesome Acorn I worked with in my Acorn Enterprise role) has passed away. She was a wonderful, inspirational woman full of fun and drive for her business Akelas Den. I feel privileged to have known and worked with her and offer my sincere condolences to her amazing other half, Darrian, her family and closer friends. Fly high, Helen. You’re gone, but you certainly won’t be forgotten.

I’d secondly like to say how sad I am to hear that ‘Willie’ an absolutely gentleman I was lucky to work with in my first proper job at Asda has sadly passed away today. I remember ‘Willie’ fondly from a time when I was 17, working as a bakery cleaner, finding my way around life and trying to earn a bit of money when I had first started college. ‘Willie’ was a gem. He was a perfectionist and even though I was only cleaning tiled walls and a big mixing bowls, he made sure I did it right and in turn I had pride in my work and developed good attention to detail – which is crucial in any job! He was a character, a hard-worker and a gentleman. I offer my sincere condolences to his family.

So what has the passing of these two true characters taught me?

It’s simple really. It’s taught me and reaffirmed three things:

1)    Live each day to the full, as tomorrow is not promised. Two fantastic characters I’ve known have sadly left us. They are not here to wake up tomorrow. They’re not here to see the sun or have a blether with, and they’ve left their nearest and dearest with heavy hearts, but have left a trail of fantastic memories which will give us comfort in their passing


2)    Appreciate the people you have in your life: It sounds clich├ęd, but I genuinely have the best people in my life. I’m a lucky guy and feel over-whelmed at times just how loved, and cared for I am. In times I’ve been really down and feeling out, I’m always pushed right back up again, and I fight on, fight to leave my mark and make a difference in my world.  You can too! And if you’re reading this, I’m more than likely cheering you on right now to do it!


3)    Money isn’t everything: I’ve had the ongoing worry (like the rest of us) about money, and about making ends meet, and have dreamed about making it big and had the same fantasies as the rest of us-  big ‘hoose’ fancy cars (well….. learning to drive first would be a start!!) but do you know what….. my health and my happiness is worth more to me than any sum of money could ever mean....


Fly high Helen. Fly high Willie.
Sorely missed you will be.


Daney over and out for now!