Laurie started out as a very successful entrepreneur and businessman, and although initially he enjoyed his time in The City and later in the engineering industry for some 12 years, he always felt something was missing.
Having turned around and sold his business, he realized he was making more money that he needed to live on. He didn’t feel fulfilled. His mother guided him towards volunteering, which he did for a couple of charities including Jami—the Jewish Association for Mental Illness.
Back in the 1990’s Jami operated from a scout hut in Wembley. Laurie would give up his Sundays, get out the equipment, make sandwiches, play guitar, join in on trips and generally get stuck in. He soon made a name for himself and was approached by the trustees of Jami to become the new CEO where he has been for the last 12 years.
Jami has grown beyond all recognition since those early days, in no small measure due to Laurie’s qualities, not only as a fine businessman, but someone who is passionate about improving the lives of those in the community, suffering from poor mental health.
Join me as Laurie takes us from his early involvement in Jami to the wonderful and inspiring charity it is today.
“I had a scholarship through a telecom company—and through a mistake they gave me a job as a software engineer…but always looking to expand my knowledge and skill set, I didn’t tell them that they’d made a mistake until six weeks into the job.”[7:00]
In the mid 90’s Laurie started volunteering on the weekends at a few volunteer centers—one of which was Jami. He suspects that his mother suggested this to help him find a lovely woman, but he quickly took to the work—playing guitar, entertaining and helping any way he could. It was a big change from the telecom company he had worked at, ascending the ranks as quickly as he became unfilled in his work.
Laurie ended up leaving that job and starting a business while also training to compete and swim internationally while also starting his volunteer work.
He had to give up swimming due to a hip surgery and also sold his business—giving him more days a week to volunteer. He ended up getting asked to do more and more for Jami. This started with taking members to a swimming pool across the road to teach swimming, and then spread into creating strategy plans for Jami’s growth, then implementing those plans.
“Jami’s vision is to make Jami redundant. That is a very high level aspiration.”[17:05]
Now Laurie is the CEO of Jami and has helped grow the staff from the original 5 members to 70 – and a budget of £350K to £3.2 million. His hope is that Jami can help give communities tools to not just talk about mental health, but instigate change—something the current healthcare system and government isn’t prioritizing. Growing this knowledge base and empowering communities will ultimately lead to Jami itself shrinking, something that Laurie is clearly aware of and has set as a high level goal for the organization.
If you’re interested in seeing how you can help Jami – or if you or a loved one are in need of help with any mental health struggles: please visit