Meet singer, songwriter Lily-Jo, who after meeting so many people at gigs and hearing them tell their life stories, was moved to create an online mental health resource designed to help people help themselves. In this high-pressured society, it is estimated that one in three People have times of depression, anxiety, stress, or other issues and The Lily-Jo project is making a difference by enabling people to find freedom
Tell us a bit about your background, and who you are
I was born and raised in Stockport to an English mother and Jamaican father. I Grew up singing in church and when I left school, I went on to sixth form where I trained in performing arts.
Talk to us about what the Lily Jo project is and why you started it
The Lily-Jo Project is an online mental health, self help resource designed to help the browser begin to take steps to help themselves.
The site features information, top tips and advice on low mood, anxiety, self harm, eating disorders and more. I created the site because I saw a need in my audience. After shows people were thanking me for speaking out on mental health as I introduced my song Bring me back. This inspired me to create a safe online space where people can go to, to find out more about mental health, and how to overcome their struggles.
Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Inspiration comes from the people I meet, the places I go and my faith. I write songs about love, hope, and purpose.
What’s the message you want people to take away from your songs
I hope people can be inspired by my message. My mission statement for my life is to inspire, ignite and promote freedom. I hope my songs do that for people.
Talk to us about some of your defining moments that have shaped who you are
I think the biggest defining moment for me was when my parents split up. Before that I hadn’t really known or experienced loss in this way. I got through that time with support from friends and family and also the external support of a counsellor. She helped me to process what was going on and helped me to get back on my feet. From that point I wanted to re-train to become a counsellor myelf. So I did! I qualified and got a job in a GP Practice in North Manchester where I spent five years seeing patients on a weekly basis. I began writing and releasing music independently in 2015 and since then, The Lily-Jo Project was founded and has had thousands of hits to date which is just so exciting. I love that people find it useful. Recently it’s had a full make over and I’ve launched a podcast on the site which is called Eavesdrop. It’s an invitation to the listener to Eavesdrop into conversations between my friends and I on a weekly basis. Season one has been a huge success and I’ve been in conversation so far with Faith Child, Philippa Hanna, Abby Eaton, Hope Plumb, Emma Borquaye with more to come! Counselling Directory (www.counselling-directory.org.uk) have sponsored the podcast. If you are looking for a counsellor in your area, they are the website to go to.
How do you stay grounded?
I’m just a normal regular girl really! I do my own cleaning and washing! I pick my kids up from school! I’m not phased by seeing my name in lights or big stages. None of that matters. What’s important to me is being with my family and friends, and being a positive role model along the way.
What does success mean to you?
I go into high schools, sing songs and do motivational talks in between. One of my defining moments was when a year nine girl handed in her blades to me and said she wasn’t going to cut anymore. This is success to me.
How do you balance/prioritise everything you do?
I try to be as organised as possible. My hubby and I share a calendar which helps and I set myself tasks and goals each week. I try to eat healthy and exercise as much as possible. I don’t always get the balance right but when I do it feels really good!
How have you overcome past insecurities you’ve had?
Insecurities are always with me. When you are living a life of purpose it’s easier to ignore the insecurities. When you know you are called to something, and you are passionate about it, then I think you just have to go for it; regardless of your own insecurities. Feel the fear, and do it anyway! I’m always nervous before every event, performance, recording, speaking engagement, school performance but I do it scared!!
What would you say to your younger self?
Hold on to your core values whole heartedly, don’t be swayed by the world as you get older
What is next for you?
On Sat 6th of October I am running 10K to raise £10K for the work of the Lily Project. If you like the work I do and feel you can support me and the work going forward, please feel free to donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lilyjoproject