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Winning at work - how I helped my workplace to strike gold for staff wellbeing

Tuesday, 26 September 2023 Mind

Helen Cook's commitment to colleagues’ mental health helped her employer achieve a Gold Award for workplace wellbeing. In this blog, she explains how the Awen Cultural Trust achieved excellence and why staff wellbeing and the Welsh language is so important to them.

I’ve always been passionate about employee wellbeing. It’s something I focus on every day in my role as Head of People.  

As a registered charity, our purpose at Awen Cultural Trust is to make people’s lives better. We do this by providing opportunities for people and communities to experience, enjoy and be inspired together, by culture. Working predominantly in the south Wales valleys, we operate over 20 cultural facilities, including theatres, libraries, community centres, a country park and two work-based projects for adults with learning disabilities. We also run an extensive programme of outreach work.

The wellbeing of our staff is as important to us. As an employer, Awen is a fully inclusive workplace and we put a lot of work into supporting colleague health and wellbeing. We are committed to removing the stigma around mental health issues and making sure staff understand it’s ‘ok not to be ok’ and help is available to them. We want to encourage our colleagues to recognise and speak about their mental health and wellbeing challenges in a safe and supported environment.

To show our commitment we have put in place a Wellbeing Strategy and Action Plan and Working Well at Awen guidelines. We have also signed the Menopause Pledge, Time to Change Pledge and the TUC Dying to Work Charter.

Having invested time and resources into developing our policies and procedures, we wanted to benchmark our work with best practice and policy. And with Mind being the leading mental health charity, we decided to take part in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index. We also wanted to understand our colleagues’ views so we can continue to align our wellbeing strategy and action plan with their wants and needs. The anonymous Wellbeing Index surveys allows us to do this.

Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Awards recognise employers who are committed to workplace wellbeing and employee mental health so we were delighted to hear we had been awarded the Gold Award, which meant we had ‘achieved excellence’.

Receiving recognition for the hard work and our long-term commitment to supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of our colleagues was a fantastic feeling and we enjoyed celebrating everyone’s achievements at the online awards ceremony.

I also had a lovely surprise to find out I had made it on to the shortlist for Mind’s Senior Leader Award as I didn’t know my colleagues had nominated me.

I would definitely recommend taking part. The Workplace Wellbeing Index is open to organisations of any size in England and Wales. You can take part through the Welsh language too.

Here at the Awen Cultural Trust, we are proud of our Welsh culture and heritage. Our name ‘Awen’ is a Celtic word for poetic inspiration in the Welsh tradition. We try to live up to our namesake in all that we do. We support the Welsh Government’s ambition to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

We play our role in this journey by creating opportunities to engage with fluent Welsh speakers, Welsh learners and those who currently don’t speak Welsh at all. We believe offering services which respect an individual’s choice of language can make a significant difference to the experiences they have with Awen. All of our marketing and communications materials, including signage, menus and brochures, are produced bilingually. 

Apart from getting recognition, taking part in The Workplace Wellbeing Index is also about sharing good practice. If I were to offer any tips to other organisations, I would say put your employee’s wellbeing at the top of the list. Just go for it!

To find out more about the Workplace Wellbeing Index:


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