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Mental Health and Stress Awareness Week at Work

With it being World Mental Health Day this month, and Stress Awareness Week approaching next month, we were inspired to write a blog on how to tackle and combat stress at work. Whether physical or desk-based work, or even travelling from one appointment to another, you need to look after yourself.

Being stressed and under pressure is a normal part of life. However becoming overwhelmed with stress, with no wind-down time, can lead to mental health problems, and affect the wellbeing of the person involved.

National Stress Awareness Day is a timely reminder that we must take a moment to think about our own wellbeing and seek support in managing stress. Sometimes we can get carried away with work and focus too hard on goals or achievements. You can forget that you can make somebody else’s day by taking the time to talk to them, or even sharing a smile.

Here are our top tips on how to manage work-related stress

  1. Take time away from your desk. Make sure you take short breaks throughout the day, try going for a walk or run during your break, have your lunch on time, and away from your desk to re-energise.
  2. Make time to unwind after work. Avoid checking emails from home in the evening. We all need downtime to de-stress.
  3. Sleep well. Not getting enough sleep makes it difficult for anyone to concentrate and perform to the best of their ability. To get to sleep more quickly limit your caffeine intake late in the day and avoid screens for about 30 minutes before bedtime.
  4. Track your stress levels. Keep a journal to identify situations that create stress and note how you respond to this. Try to identify what is pushing your buttons and spot where you handled it best.
  5. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you’re overwhelmed. We all know what it’s like to feel stressed at work. Sharing this can make a huge difference. Connect with a line manager, or someone else in your team. Find a private space to open up a mental health conversation.
  6. Learn to relax. Start by taking a couple of minutes a day to focus on unwinding. It’s important to also book some time off or plan a long weekend away from work to spend time nurturing your personal relationships and hobbies.

 

Workplace Peace and UnityFor employers, it is vital to create a stress awareness zone at any workspace, where staff can talk about, and share their thoughts or feelings when they are feeling overwhelmed. Colleagues should be encouraged to share advice, tips and give support to other staff members who need help.

Many modern companies are now placing workplace wellness at the core of their business by recognising the importance of their staff. Employers today find it vital to ensure individuals feel valued and supported. Placing mental health and wellbeing at the heart of any business can improve the productivity and happiness of staff members, resulting in a positive impact overall.
By focusing on the wellbeing of staff, the result is a healthier environment and a more productive team. Now, that is a ‘win’ for any company, of any size.

Working with a charity can offer many benefits to SMEs. Put simply, charity fundraising is great for a company, its employees and, of course, the charity itself. In this blog we’ll take a look at the benefits to companies from engaging in charity fundraising. We’ll also end on a recent Flexspace example.

The benefits broadly divide into two categories, internal and external. Let’s look at each in turn:

Internal Benefits

The main positives to working with a charity is the motivation this provides employees. Quite simply, people love to do things which support the community or a charity which they have a close personal connection with.
It’s great for an employer to choose a charity which aligns closely to its workforce and its values. The closer the alignment, the more likely employees will really get behind any fundraising efforts.

Some companies will create a shortlist of say, three charity contenders to work with. An employee ballot decides who to support for that year or two year period.

Added Values

Most employees work with companies who have strong values that they can identify with. For their part, most employers recognise the value that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) gives their organisation. Charity work provides worthwhile values. It really is a win: win situation.

A True Partnership

Supporting a charity can take many forms (volunteering, fundraising, matched giving etc.). They are most successful when its a symbiotic relationships. Both sides should gain equally from the partnership.

Some employees choose to volunteer in some capacity with their charity of choice. This can be a rewarding experience . Many positive skills are earned and valuable connections made. Indeed, many charity partnerships provide a welcome boost to a company’s networks.

Improving Employee Morale

Getting the workforce to collectively focus on a single task, can bring many benefits to morale and team working. Group fundraising can also engender a healthy sense of competition with regard to which team is able to raise the most amount of money. Fundraising is supposed to be fun – as long as employees are enjoying themselves as  well as doing something worthwhile. This provides a very enjoyable and positive experience for all participants.

External benefits

One of the more obvious benefits of any charity work is the positive PR it provides to your company image. The closer your own company values align with the charity, then the easier this PR is to lever in a positive way.

There are various methods of doing this – the more traditional local radio and local newspapers as well as the faster moving social media channels.
Don’t forget, local newspapers and radio rely on commercial charity partnerships. They provide valuable content. They are always keen to promote your cause.

Doing great work with a well-known (either nationally or locally) charity can have a very positive effect on how future employees view your company.

A Recent Example

Flexspace, with 59 centres across the UK, was really well placed to take part in this year’s Children in Need fundraiser. Many of the centres took part on the day with a variety of activities.

Some were old favourites: cake sales, bake-off competitions and round pound collections. Other favourites included different ways of dressing up, face-painting or wearing yellow. More leftfield and unusual included carpet bowls, a duck race and various, fun office games.

Well over £800 was raised for Children in Need, but importantly, the centres benefited from all the fun activities. Many of Flexspace’s tenants managed to get involved as well. This created a great atmosphere and was a worthwhile way of strengthening the relationship between Flexspace and our tenants.

So, what are you waiting for? We wish you luck in whatever charity activity you decide to do – and you are sure to gain many benefits from the experience.

This month, we focus on Kindred, a very special Flexspace tenant. Kindred is a charity that supports children with disabilities and their families across Fife. They have been transforming the lives of children for the last 10 years. Here’s an introduction to them, in their own words:

The scale of the challenge

Kindred work with some of the most vulnerable families in Fife. More than 50% of the families supported are living in the highest areas of deprivation. Not only that, famalies face significant social emotional issues. As well as the added responsibility of caring for a child with disability. This can often have a negative effect on some parent’s own mental health often leading to social isolation.

Offering a Helping Hand

In the last year Kindred Fife supported 314 families with in-depth 1:1 support contributing to their well-being. In addition, 122 families attend our parent support groups and information events.

Kindred employees who work in FifeWe also receives a high level of referrals from Consultants, Community Paediatric Nurses, Neonatal Wards, Child Development Centres and Fife Social Work Department. The work Kindred undertakes, helps reduce the pressure on NHS services. We also provide vital in-depth support to families who are often frightened and overwhelmed.

As Well as Offering Emotional Support

The team are able to offer in-depth 1:1 emotional support, along with formal advocacy and information during very difficult and challenging times for families. We also provide support to a number of families with children at end of life and continue to offer support after bereavement.

Kindred, a Flexspace tenant, supports children and their familiesThe charity also helps families understand and come to terms with their Child’s diagnosis. We also work closely with a number of health professionals, social workers and other necessary organisations. This includes third sector organisations to achieve the best outcomes for the whole family.

Our staff are also parents of children with support needs. They have a real and deep understand of the  issues and challenges facing families.

We support in other ways too

The staff provide information and help complete benefit applications, ensuring families get all the statutory entitlements. We make funding applications for specialist equipment, holidays, household items etc. We also support families to get appropriate equipment, respite care, have adaptations to housing or support them to be re-homed where appropriate.

A number of families need help to ensure their child receives the correct educational provision and we will support family’s right up to tribunal level if necessary. While we provide help, information and assistance with practical matters. Parents often tell us it is this in-depth emotional support that they find invaluable.

What our Families say about Us

“If I could describe the service, I would say it changed my life. My worker fought my corner every step of the way and totally changed things for the better”

One of our Kindred Families based in Fife“Very trust worthy and reliable and supportive a true Godsend, not sure I would have managed to sort through the maze without the help and support I received”

“A valued service to me and my family. Through all the difficulties we have faced, I can pick up the phone and talk to someone to get a release or advice”

“I can’t thank Kindred enough, the help we received was amazing. Having the support of someone knowledgeable of our situation was so helpful; I couldn’t have done it myself”

So there you have it – Kindred – helping transform children’s & parents’ lives in Fife.  As a Flexspace tenant, we’re very proud of them. If you know anyone who could benefit from Kindred’s vital work, please get in touch here: http://www.kindred-scotland.org/

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