BUSINESSES in Stockton are being empowered to have open and honest conversations with staff around mental health issues - and get meaningful help and support - thanks to the first High Street wellbeing programme in the UK.
Ahead of World Mental Health Awareness Day this Sunday, [October 10] Stockton Business Improvement District (BID) has launched ‘Be’ to give business owners and employees in the levy community access to support and interventions through an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
The town’s BID has formed a partnership with workplace mental health and wellbeing provider Three Eggs to launch the ‘Be’ brand it is hoped will become instantly recognisable and synonymous with mental wellbeing.
Jason Maxwell, manager of Stockton BID explains the idea for ‘Be’ and the need for an EAP for Stockton businesses came about due to the pressure business owners and their staff came under during the pandemic.
He said: “Stress amongst business owners and their staff has been high during the pandemic and with the pressure people have been under, self-care has been pushed lower down the priority list than it might have otherwise been.
“At the same time, we came to realise that seeking out interventions that are trustworthy, affordable and beneficial can feel overwhelming.
“It was incredibly important to us that we took proactive steps to address the need for somewhere for our businesses to turn by creating a trustworthy wellbeing programme.”
Jason believes ‘Be’ provides a much-needed platform to encourage business owners to learn more about how they can support themselves and their staff and start encouraging open and honest conversations between colleagues around mental health.
The partnership between Stockton BID and Three Eggs will give businesses in the levy community the opportunity to access a clinically led workplace mental health and wellbeing Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) counselling and other benefits.
The first 60 places on the programme, which include e-learning for one representative from each business, are being made available free of charge, with the option of extending the programme to additional staff members at a cost of £24 per year.
Jason said: “We recognise that the SMEs in the Stockton BID levy community don’t have HR departments or staff who are trained in employee wellbeing - and we needed to plug that gap.
“We have made it really simple for businesses in the levy community to take advantage of the help, support and training on offer from Three Eggs.
“Information about the partnership is available at www.stocktonbid.co.uk and businesses can register for access to the Employee Assistance Programme and e-learning by sending a quick email to email@example.com and putting Stockton BID in the subject line.”
The approach from ‘Be’ and Three Eggs is to create a proactive EAP which supports everyone in an organisation to understand and take care of their own wellbeing.
It uses a combination of digital tools and e-learning programmes, a wellbeing hub, in-person support services and team training and updates.
George Bradley, Director, at Three Eggs said: “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with Stockton BID to deliver this Employee Assistance Programme for High Street businesses that have faced unprecedented pressure during the Covid 19 pandemic.
“As well as the 60 funded places, we are pleased to be able to offer Stockton BID members access for additional staff members at a cost of £24 each per year as well as further enhanced training support, with training programmes available via Zoom or in person starting from £100.”
Stockton BID is the Tees Valley’s only independent Business Improvement District, representing about 400 High Street businesses, from lawyers, estate agents and accountants to beauty, retail and hospitality businesses.
During the pandemic, Jason and his team have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to unite the High Street and bring the levy community together.
Jason said: “Throughout this extremely difficult and unprecedented time, which has been unlike anything we could have imagined prior to 2020, the businesses in our community have demonstrated how resilient, creative and caring they are.
“At Stockton BID, we have supported those businesses in the best ways possible during this time with practical business support and advice and marketing – as well doing the best we could in terms of emotional support and providing a much-needed sounding board.
“We recognise the importance of going even further with mental health support and we are proud to be partnering with Three Eggs to deliver the Employee Assistance Programme and training our businesses need to support themselves and their staff at this time.”