A blast of fresh air in a fog of gloom!

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If you agree that so much in the world right now feels well, frankly, a bit gloomy and depressing, I am delighted to bring you some better, brighter news…

You may recall last year we launched our Keep Thriving campaign, to support and encourage better workplace wellbeing across the UK.

Since then, the war waged by Russia in Ukraine and continuing post-pandemic supply chain pressures have continued to push our inflation rate to levels not seen for a generation or more.

Thankfully, the rate has dropped since, but times remain tough not just for individuals and families but also for the many thousands of small, medium and micro-organisations around the country.

Mike Robinson: "We know smaller organisations often lack the resources that larger ones enjoy in terms of HR or health, safety and wellbeing support."

The rising cost of living means smaller organisations, and especially charities, are finding it harder to keep afloat – let alone ensure their teams are happy, healthy, and operating to their best ability.

That is why, in November 2022, we wanted to go further and do something to help. So, we started offering free training as part of our Keep Thriving campaign, to help promote and support workplace wellbeing among micro, small and medium-sized organisations.

Our charitable offer comprised a series of free three-hour workshops for organisations with under 500 staff with our Being Well Together experts, to help them develop a wellbeing strategy.

We know smaller organisations often lack the resources that larger ones enjoy in terms of HR or health, safety and wellbeing support. Most businesses in the UK employ fewer than 10 people, even if micros only account for 21 per cent of employment. But SMEs as a whole employ 61 per cent of people in the UK.

So, we were very pleased with the level of interest, and received well over 200 applications from SMEs to attend. We offered 199 places on 20 workshops and in five months delivered training to 123 small employers. Six months after attending, all our participants were invited on a rolling basis to apply to receive up to £10,000 in funding to help them implement their wellbeing strategy. I was personally delighted that Derby-based charity, Safe and Sound, was our first recipient.

Safe and Sound supports and protects young people and families whose lives have been affected by child exploitation. Their work is challenging and specialist with the charity supporting children and their families facing all kinds of exploitation. In judging their application, we felt it was imaginative, innovative and strong on evaluation.

I am equally pleased that a Liverpool-based charity, Team Oasis, has just been announced as the next beneficiary of our funding.

Team Oasis works with vulnerable young people across south Liverpool, helping them to develop new skills, grow as individuals and delivers day-to-day support to them and their families, including free food and facilities for music, sports and dance.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to affect a great many people, I am all the more determined we continue helping smaller employers of all types and across all sectors in the future to support their staff.

I also appreciate it’s not just smaller charities that need guidance and assistance. There are a huge number of people working longer hours in challenging situations. They all deserve to have their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing supported as much as anyone else.

Which is why we’re not stopping there. We plan to make three further awards over the coming months and will hold further workshops, this time face-to-face around the country, later in the autumn. So, please look out for them.

All the evidence shows that thinking about health, safety and wellbeing in an integrated, strategic way can lead not just to a safer, happier and healthier workforce but also improved operating and financial outcomes for businesses.

Mike Robinson FCA is chief executive of the British Safety Council.



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