The Partnership has agreed that its Action Priority for 2014 – 15 should be mental health. In particular the focus of its action would be encouraging Darlington employers to support their employees’ mental wellbeing.
Cllr. Bill Dixon, Leader of Darlington Borough Council agreed to chair the steering group that would develop the initiative which also included:
Catherine Parker (Public Health)
Lisa Boyd (Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust)
Gary Emerson (MIND)
Katie Johnson (HR Deep Ocean)
Angela Howey (Everything Everywhere)
Tom Ross (TUC)
It met for the first time on May 6th agreed its role as to propose to Darlington Partnership Board an initiative which aims to:
- increase awareness mental health with employers and employees,
- reduce the stigma associated with mental health and
- significantly increase the number of employers who support mental wellbeing amongst their workforce:
A number of potential options for supporting employers were considered. It was agreed that local employers would be surveyed to get an understanding of what would help them best.
A workshop was held with local employers at the Darlington Cares Board on 17th June. The views expressed proved extremely helpful in better scoping the initiative. What emerged was a strong desire from the membership of the Darlington Cares Board to share their expertise with smaller employers as part of their corporate social responsibility contribution to Darlington. A further engagement and consultation event was held with 22 employers on September 10th to test the emerging model. The response again was extremely positive.
The proposition which was agreed at the subsequent steering group meeting and is now being implemented is as follows:
A network of ‘buddy support’ will be developed where companies and organisations with better resourced and more experienced mental wellbeing support mentor smaller companies to develop their own services for their staff.
The initiative will be embedded into Darlington Cares, with Cares members offering buddying as part of their corporate social responsibility contribution. Darlington Cares will act as the vehicle through which organisations find each other to buddy up through hosting events and targeted marketing.
The initiative will be facilitated and supported by a discrete area of the Darlington Cares website which would have access restricted to participating companies.
The site would provide:
– access to approved resources
– links to other sites
– access to expert advisors
– a brokerage page where those seeking help can find buddies offering support
Access to the site will be given to those companies participating after their first buddying session. This will also trigger the awarding of a mark of recognition.
The web pages are currently being designed and material is being compiled to populate it. Once a draft is ready it will be reviewed by the Darlington Cares Board.