Charity inspiration interview - Laughter in Mind

Laughter in Mind

Laughter in Mind has a unique concept – they offer fun, flexible and interactive training packages to help improve overall well-being.

Why are they called Laughter in Mind? Because they believe laughter is the best medicine and supports a healthy and happy mind. Their tailored workshops include, amongst many other activities, Laughter Yoga – a proven technique which combines simple breathing techniques with fun exercise. We talk to Christine, co-founder of Laughter in Mind, to discover exactly what they do, any hurdles they have faced along the way, and how they have overcome them.

When and how did the dream of Laughter in Mind become a reality?

Linda and I have been friends since our teenage years and have followed similar career paths. We have over 50 years combined experience of working with communities and education in a professional, well-being and health-related field. It seemed only natural when we made the decision to set up Laughter in Mind as a Community Interest Company after initially forming as a company limited by guarantee. We consulted with a number of professionals and organisations who felt that the well-being benefits of our workshops, along with the communities and organisations benefitting from our work, would be a good fit with the not-for-profit and community-led model. Laughter in Mind has been running for just over a year and we're going from strength to strength.

What are the main drivers behind the concept?

Our main aim was really to help make significant improvements to the health, well-being and happiness levels of communities, children, young people, senior citizens and people in the workplace. Our experience of working with people, supporting health and well-being in the corporate world, has provided us with the knowledge that underpins the ethos of Laughter in Mind.

What methods do you use?

We use a range of interactive and fun tools and techniques, providing workshops and training packages that support health and well-being, confidence, self-esteem, community cohesion, team building, gentle physical activity, breathing and relaxation. The techniques used are proven and grounded in research.

How many of you run Laughter in Mind?

Two directors/workshop leaders and an advisory group made up of five voluntary members.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

We aim to provide affordable workshops to disadvantaged communities and groups but - as many organisations know too well - funding is often a barrier. We actively seek funding to support affordability and bring the health and wellbeing benefits of our workshops to as many people as possible. We are experienced at seeking out bid writing and funding opportunities but we find that a lot of the funding is aimed at 'groups' rather than organisations like ours who 'go into groups' to offer services. We provide workshops to all ages (9-99!) and to a diverse range of people and types of organisations. As a result, we've needed to ensure that our techniques are flexible and adaptable to the individual's needs.

How have you overcome these challenges?

We find that the direct approach is best so often make personal contact with funders to explain our concept and model. We also work directly with commissioners and, by working in partnership with organisations and strategic leads responsible for health and well-being outcomes, we are able to support them to meet common objectives and targets.

We have recruited specialist people onto our advisory board with direct knowledge experience and qualifications in the fields we work in. This ensures that the views of local stakeholders are considered and effectively represented and that our workshops are bespoke - taking account of individual needs, including mobility etc.

Is there any advice you could give to other charities?

Be pro-active in working in partnership with organisations. The personal approach works well and enables you to demonstrate your passion for what you do. I'd also suggest that you have the views of stakeholders truly represented. Don't be afraid to diversify to meet new challenges and changing needs. Lastly, you may have several ideas, but stick to just one or two and become an 'expert' at these rather than trying to cover too many areas.

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