£8 million workplace health programme ‘Business Health Matters’ launches in Lancashire

Our revolutionary new initiative, Business Health Matters, that will support businesses across Lancashire in improving the health and wellbeing of their employees has launched today, Monday 13th September.

Supported by 18 delivery partners and a number of regional and national organisations, the Active Lancashire led programme has brought together the expertise of specialists at the University of Central Lancashire, ukactive and Lancashire Mind to deliver a tailored and affordable workplace health offer to Lancashire-based SMEs. As a result of this 3-year programme, employees across the county will be empowered to take ownership and improve their own health and wellbeing, whilst businesses will benefit from a healthier, happier and more resilient workforce. You can learn more about the programme via our new short video, below.

In response to the increased levels of poor health within Lancashire’s workforce, the programme offers two main services to businesses in the form of the ESF-funded Workplace Health Champion Training and the government-backed Workplace Health Screenings service. The free training includes basic skills (Mathematics, English and ESOL) and a Level 2 and Level 3 NCFE-accredited qualification for those individuals who wish to drive change in their organisations and create a network of health ambassadors across the county. The screenings, focused on employees aged 50+, combine a physical health assessment and mental health element to produce a unique tool for employees to learn more about their own health and take positive steps to improve it.

The programme has undertaken a robust training and pilot phase over the last 12 months, where staff from leisure trusts and local authorities have undergone extensive training to deliver both the Workplace Health Champion Training and the Workplace Health Screening service. Today’s launch signals the start of the delivery of this exciting programme which will aim to train 5,000 Workplace Health Champions and conduct over 15,000 health screenings in the workplace, over the next 3 years.

Adrian Leather, Chief Executive at Active Lancashire, explained: “Speaking to Lancashire businesses and business leaders, I repeatedly hear about the loss of staff due to sickness and poor attendance at work; some of it due to the pandemic, much of it due to long term health conditions. Today’s launch of Business Health Matters creates a significant opportunity to increase the competitiveness of our 53,000 businesses and the productivity of our 650,000 workers in Lancashire. The research shows that by improving the mental and physical health of employees in Lancashire, we can reduce rate of sickness absence in the county and increase those retained in employment. By bringing these levels in line with national averages, the economy in Lancashire would grow by £3Bn per year.”

“Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated delivery partners and our team, I am very confident Business Health Matters will drive tangible change within businesses and improve productivity, staff satisfaction and retention for years to come.”

Combining £5million investment from the European Social Fund and £3million from the UKRI’s healthy ageing challenge, the launch of the programme is a landmark moment for Lancashire with a huge potential to benefit Lancashire’s economy and ease the strain on the county’s health services, with support from a range of partners including Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Chambers of Commerce, Sport England and Lancashire County Council.

For further information on the programme, please email businesshealthmatters@activelancashire.org.uk or call 01772 299830.

Pioneering workplace health project awarded £3 million funding

A ground-breaking new initiative that will improve the health and wellbeing of employees across Lancashire has received a multi-million pound funding boost today, Thursday 10th June.

UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) healthy ageing challenge fund has given £3 million to an Active Lancashire led project which will upskill gym and leisure centre employees to conduct physical and mental health screenings in workplaces across the county.

Delivering more than 15,000 health screenings over a three-year period, the Workplace Health Screening Project will target businesses with employees aged 50+ and SMEs that experience lower levels of productivity as a result of poor employee health.

The screening tool and associated training programme have been developed by specialists from the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) School of Medicine and are consistent with the approach used in NHS medical practices to identify conditions that can lead to poor health in later life.

Businesses will then be offered a range of supportive interventions for employees, based on the outcomes of the screenings, encompassing both physical and mental health support. The interventions will be delivered by a range of Lancashire-based providers and will empower employees with the tools to improve their overall health, whilst employers will benefit from increased productivity and resilience within their workforces.

The project brings together a range of local and national partners and forms part of the wider ‘Business Health Matters’ programme which helps SMEs understand how they can support their staff; an issue that has been identified in a survey of more than 400 local business over the last 12 months.

Adrian Leather, Chief Executive of Active Lancashire, said: “Business Health Matters represents a huge opportunity for Lancashire businesses to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees and to contribute to Lancashire’s economic recovery following the pandemic. Poor health results are responsible for half of the lost productivity in Lancashire, valued at £650 million, as well as the early retirement of 24,000 skilled workers who leave employment at least a decade before their planned retirement date.

“By working with the innovative partners on this project, we are able to offer high quality, local and low-cost workplace health screenings and contribute to retaining valuable skills in the workforce, improving staff satisfaction and reducing long-term business disruption costs in businesses across Lancashire.”

Professor StJohn Crean, UCLan’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), said: “We’re delighted this project has been backed with £3m in national funding because it will improve the mental and physical wellbeing of thousands of employees within Lancashire, contributing to the region’s economic prosperity and working towards achieving the levelling up agenda. Our newly developed training tools which not only enable leisure professionals to upskill themselves, but they will offer a vital work-based resource which will help ease the burden on our already stretched NHS.”

Combining a £70,000 grant awarded in late 2020 for stage one of the project and additional funding from a range of partners, today’s announcement brings the total value of the project to £5.5 million. As one of only five projects receiving funding from the UKRI’s healthy ageing challenge, the initiative can now progress to three years of delivery and research with support from a range of partners including Lancashire Mind, ukactive, Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Chambers of Commerce, Sport England and Lancashire County Council.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, the UK’s trade body for the physical activity sector, said: “Physical activity has a crucial role to play in workplace wellbeing, supporting not only physical health but also mental health, individual purpose, team ethos, productivity and organisational culture.

“Organisations in the physical activity sector can play a lead role in improving the wellbeing of our nation’s workforce and this in turn will bring significant economic returns for UK plc. It is great to see this initiative bring together local bodies and leading experts in physical and mental health to make a real difference to Lancashire’s workforce and we believe projects such as this can support our ambitions to improve working life in the UK.”

Alongside the physical assessment, the project has brought together expertise from Lancashire Mind to integrate a mental health aspect for employees, making the screenings truly unique in their approach.

Tommy McIlravey, CEO of Lancashire Mind, added: “The last 12 months have been challenging for many and the changing work landscape means that the mental health and wellbeing of staff is even more vital. The Business Health Matters project will help companies develop a strategy to position them as a forward-thinking employer and demonstrate they have the best interests of their staff at heart.

“Openly discussing and supporting mental health in the workplace can boost staff morale and productivity by stopping issues from escalating, helping you to keep highly skilled and valuable members of staff in the workplace. Prioritising workplace wellbeing and recognising both physical and mental health as equally important, is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.”

A number of local authorities and leisure trusts are also partnering with Active Lancashire on the innovative project, with dedicated staff set to deliver the screenings and interventions in workplaces across the county. To find out more and register your interest in the programme, please click here www.businesshealthmatters.org.uk

Innovative collaboration aims to make employees’ lives healthier

An innovative Lancashire based project to make employees’ lives healthier has received national funding.

Active Lancashire and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have joined forces to lead a programme which will upskill gym and leisure centre employees, so they are qualified to conduct health screenings within workplaces.

The ground-breaking project, which forms part of a broader initiative titled Business Health Matters, will help to better identify ways in which employees and employers can start to address conditions like back pain, poor mental health or diabetes before they become life limiting or impact people’s ability to live healthy lives as they age. Additional benefits will include sustained employment and increased productivity.

Adrian Leather, Chief Executive of Active Lancashire, said: “We have not seen this innovative approach to workplace health on a scale like this in Lancashire or elsewhere in the UK before. We are leading on something truly original and believe our Business Health Matters scheme will have a huge positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the county’s workforce.”

UCLan’s School of Medicine has already developed a screening tool which will enable leisure services’ staff to administer the screening process, which is consistent with the national screening programme currently provided by general practitioners. This screening tool will be coupled with a suite of mental and physical health interventions that can support working aged individuals.

Professor StJohn Crean, UCLan Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), said: “The project has the potential to reduce demand on GP services, engage a new workforce in the delivery of health-related services at a time of shortages of trained health staff and reduce demand on high cost acute services. We are delighted to be collaborating on the ground-breaking programme and we look forward to working with leisure professionals throughout Lancashire.”

The scheme is being supported by a wide range of interested bodies including the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the county’s Chambers of Commerce, the North West Coast Innovation Agency, Lancashire Mind, Sport England, UK Active and Lancashire County Council.

Steve Fogg, Chair of the Lancashire LEP, commented: “This is a fantastic partnership which is bringing together so many of the county’s major organisations. The desire for all to work collaboratively to help the lives of Lancashire people is tremendous.”

Liz Mear, Chief Executive of the North West Coast Innovation Agency, added: “We’re delighted to support this innovative project which aims to improve the health of thousands of workers within Lancashire.”

The project, which will receive nearly £65,000, is one of only seven throughout the country which has received Government funding today, 26th August 2020, from the UK Research and Innovation’s industrial strategy challenge fund for healthy ageing.

For more information please visit: www.businesshealthmatters.org.uk