A Double Celebration For a Leeds Entrepreneur

MacComms celebrates its 9th birthday and HelloHope is launched

I was invited to attend the celebration of two big occasions on behalf of Leeds Living on 23 May – the 9th anniversary of MacComms, a PR-led marketing and communications agency based in Leeds, and the launch of HelloHope, a new community interest company on a mission to provide a new kind of mental health and suicide prevention support.

Both organisations were founded by Ellie MacDonald, a Leeds based female entrepreneur with a passion for social good.

The celebration event was hosted at Nexus Leeds, a central hub at the University of Leeds, that supports innovators and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality. The Nexus team supports entrepreneurs to develop connections whilst also providing access to research, talent and facilities across the University. Ellie had chosen Nexus for the event, as she had been part of a recent programme, Innovative Entrepreneurs which helps local entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas.

I arrived at Nexus shortly after the celebrations had commenced. I was welcomed to the space by one of Ellie’s volunteers, and I found a spot at a table where I could listen to the music being played by the (very cool) jukebox and take in the event. But first, I took a beeline for the bar, grabbing a drink and some snacks. The bar was being run by one of the other local entrepreneurs who had been part of the same business accelerator programme as Ellie years ago. He was super friendly, and kindly mixed me a soft drink with some fancy cordial.

I headed back to my table spot and listened to Ellie give a speech about her journey so far.

Ellie kicked off her speech by telling us all about MacComms, which launched in 2015. Ellie said she decided to go ahead and launch the business, despite trepidation, because she was fed up with one too many poor employers and was keen to do something different.

Bringing with her over a decade of marketing experience, Ellie set up the Leeds-based PR firm. MacComms focuses on supporting mission-led startups, SMEs and local businesses, with a focus on tech, manufacturing and professional services and charities through PR-led marketing and communications work. The small group of local people who make up the MacComms team, several of whom work as freelancers, work collaboratively with largely Yorkshire-based organisations to boost company profiles, increase awareness and support companies to grow. Several of MacComms’ clients were at the celebration event, and it was great to see the strong relationships that had been built.

Whilst MacComms has been successful since it launched almost ten years ago, Ellie has not always had it easy, as she explained during her speech. Ellie bravely told us that she had struggled with her mental health over recent years and had sought support to get her through. However, not everyone is able to access support, owing to high costs or long wait times. It was this difficulty in accessing support, combined with her personal experiences of poor mental health and the loss of her dad to suicide when she was just four years old, that led to Ellie channelling her pain into something positive to bring more hope to people at a time when it is needed most.

HelloHope has been launched as a nonprofit making, Community Interest Company, and through online and in-person events, the HelloHope team will deliver simple yet vital lifesaving training to adults and young people, to help more people to understand what signs to look for and how to get someone who is struggling with their mental health and thoughts of suicide to a place of safety, or to access support.

The training will be tailored to the audience, and offered to schools, colleges, universities and workplaces. Ellie has retrained and obtained several mental health qualifications to get to this point. She will work with other mental health professionals to deliver the training in Leeds and beyond.

Leeds-based branding agency, ALLGOOD were selected by Ellie to develop the HelloHope brand. She was keen to work with them to create a positive, vibrant brand to make it easier for everyone to have conversations around suicide and poor mental health. The brand, and the website to go with it, are colourful and certainly full of hope. Ellie explained that this was essential as she wanted to pull away from the scaremongering around poor mental health and suicide that can all too often cloud the space.

It was a privilege to be able to attend the launch and celebration event. I enjoyed hearing about the journey that Ellie has been on over recent years, the success of MacComms and the exciting journey that HelloHope has ahead of it.

I am looking forward to following HelloHope to see how things go, and to hear about the amazing work that I’m sure the team will do to support more people with mental health challenges, as well as their friends and families.

To find out more about MacComms, head to their website: https://www.maccomms.net/

For more information about HelloHope, see their newly launched website: https://hellohope.uk/

To find out more about MacComms, head to their website: https://www.maccomms.net/

For more information about HelloHope, see their newly launched website: https://hellohope.uk/

Photography by Gemma Bridge.

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