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Award recognises local employers’ commitment to staff health and wellbeing

Thursday, 03 July, 2014
Award recognises local employers’ commitment to staff health and wellbeing

Local businesses have been recognised for their commitment to staff health and wellbeing at the North East Better Health at Work Award Celebration Event held last week.

Over 50 employers in Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle received their awards at the ceremony at the Holiday Inn Newcastle last week.

The ceremony, which was jointly hosted by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, recognised the workplaces which have successfully achieved the award by developing and embedding a sustainable culture of health and wellbeing in the workplace.  It is also when they received their official Better Health at Work awards (BHAWA).

Businesses were presented with their awards by Steve Black, one of Europe’s leading motivational speakers who has worked with high profile sportsmen in both rugby and football including Kevin Keegan, Peter Reid and Jonny Wilkinson.

The North East BHAWA has four levels – bronze, silver, gold and continuing excellence and is delivered by a range of local NHS trusts, local authorities and other providers, which provide support to employers across the region.

The criteria to achieve the awards includes identifying staff ‘health advocates’, providing support to help staff stop smoking, creating a better awareness of how health can be affected by work activities, asking staff with which health issues they would like help and running subsequent health improvement campaigns to address the most popular topics. At the higher levels organisations are required to promote health within their wider community and to employees’ families.

Victoria Solomon, health advocate and manager at Busy Bees Nursery in North Tyneside who picked up a gold award, said: “We are really pleased to receive the award. We are part of a national chain of nurseries and it’s really helped us to raise the profile of our nursery within the organisation. Senior managers are delighted we’ve got the award as they see the benefits to staff and families.”

Based in Cobalt Business Park, the nursery currently employs 40 staff and cares for 200 children each week. They started in 2011 and as part of the awards they have delivered a variety of activities to promote healthier lifestyles to staff. As part of the gold award in 2013-14 their health and wellbeing activities now involve children and parents who use the nursery as well.

Activities range from free weight loss and physical activity programmes including boot camps and zumbathons at the nursery, free healthy recipes and fruit for staff and families, to events that raise awareness of particular health issues such as common cancers and first aid training.

Victoria added: “We started with a short survey with staff to identify areas to focus on. It’s been hard work but the support we’ve got has been brilliant. The staff at Northumbria Healthcare are always there for you, providing lots of advice, ideas and contacts to help you run the activities.

“Our staff really value what we’ve achieved – they say they feel healthier including me. I lost two stones on our weight-loss programme. In particular the health checks with the nurses and family events to raise awareness of particular health issues have been very successful.

“We are planning to build on this over the next three years and because we still do the surveys twice a year it helps us to prioritise what works well for everyone and to try new things when new things are flagged up.”

Steven Chater, health promotion specialist at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust which supports businesses in Northumberland and North Tyneside to achieve the North East BHAWA, added: “We are thrilled that Busy Bees have achieved their gold award and are delighted that so many local employers have demonstrated their commitment to the health and wellbeing of their employees over the last year and were successful in attaining awards.

“Many people spend a great deal of time in the workplace, making it one of the most important places to get advice about healthier lifestyles. Evidence shows that workplace health programmes, like ours, can help to reduce sickness absence, as well as motivating and helping to retain staff.  It’s good for everyone.”

Any employer can take part in the free Better Health at Work Award. For more information visit www.betterhealthatworkne.org

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