Three of the Amphigean team recently attended a workshop for the Better Health at Work Award, held at Carlisle’s archive centre.
It is a scheme that encourages a healthier workplace and covers the whole of the North East and Cumbria. More than 400 employers have participated or are currently involved in the award. The workshop outlined that there are four levels to the award: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Continuing Excellence, with different criteria at each stage as a portfolio is built.
During the introduction, an overview was given which explained that wellbeing is not just the absence of pain or discomfort, it is about being in a positive physical, social and mental state. It is estimated that mental ill health costs the UK economy almost £13 billion per year. Some of the factors that determine health and wellbeing include: social class; gender; ethnicity; education; family history and social networks (friends, colleagues etc).
Organisations involved in the scheme are encouraged to appoint two health advocates, who have access to evidence required for assessments, which they will then use to implement a health action plan. Health advocates are the key mediators between employers and Award Assessors, and will champion new health initiatives and activities within the workplace.
During the workshop, key areas of health improvement were identified. One of these was physical activity, where 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week was recommended, or 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise. Unfortunately Cumbria does not escape national failings in this area, with 45% of the county’s adults not meeting these targets, and 30% achieving less than 30 minutes of any physical activity a week.
Moreover, in the modern age we now know that a critical risk to people’s wellbeing is around mental health. One in four people in the UK are believed to be experiencing depression, stress or anxiety, and although the stigma on this is declining, there is still work to do. The training leader explained several ways of alleviating stress, including: investing more time in friends and family; noticing the small things in daily life that are beautiful or uplifting e.g. the changing seasons; and taking up a new hobby.
Unsurprisingly, the importance of healthy eating was also emphasised, with the need for all of us to reduce our fat, sugar, and salt intake. It is important to choose unsaturated oils and to eat more pulses and fruit – and less processed meet.
Other topics covered during the workshop were alcohol guidelines and sexual health. Those from Amphigean who attended the event felt it was both informative and thought provoking. We will be embracing the Better Health at Work programme, http://www.betterhealthatworkne.org/ and encourage others to do the same.
“Most of our time at work is spent sitting at a desk and although we do quite a number of planned activities and social events as a team, we wanted to ensure that we can embed the Better Health at Work philosophy in everything that we do. Having attended the introductory workshop with my colleagues Anna and Caitlin, it became clear that this programme will not just benefit us all whilst at work, but a lot of the help and advice equally applies to our home life. We’ll be running some interesting campaigns over the next twelve months with the aim of achieving Bronze status within that time.”Managing Director, Pete Simpson.