More than 150 representatives from businesses and organisations across St Helens turned out at Saints’ Totally Wicked Stadium to hear the benefits of how investing in a healthy workforce can boost businesses performance. 

Organised by Invest St Helens – in partnership with St Helens Council Public Health – the St Helens Workplace Health event was attended by businesses of all sizes that were informed about a number of initiatives designed to promote physical and mental health and wellbeing.

After taking part in an exercise class, courtesy of Merseyside Sport Partnership, visitors had the opportunity to explore a marketplace where they could access a number of services, from free blood pressure checks to stop smoking support.

The day saw several guest speakers take to the stage to stress the importance of taking active steps to promote good physical and mental health, not least former professional rugby league player, Danny Sculthorpe, and triple amputee, Corporal Andy Reid MBE, who gripped the audience’s attention with their inspirational stories about overcoming depression during the darkest moments of their lives.

Speaking after the event, Danny – who spoke openly about how a life-saving conversation with his family stopped him from completing suicide after injury forced him to hang up his rugby boots at the age of 30 – said: “Mental health is my passion; it’s my big calling after my rugby league career ended. It’s important for businesses to realise that the mental health of their employees is important – not just for the money aspect of getting people to work to their full potential – but for the moral reason as well.

“Everyone should be comfortable being in work; being in a good place (mentally) and I just wish people would treat mental health like they would physical health. If you break your leg or you get knocked over, you go straight to hospital, you get it fixed – but that’s how people should treat mental health as well.

“You’ve got to be able to get it fixed; get it looked at – and then you’re going to go back to performing to your best – day in, day out.”

Corporal Andy Reid, recently awarded an MBE for voluntary service to veterans and to people with disabilities in St Helens, wants to see businesses pledge to support veterans by signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant.

Andy – who lost his right leg below the knee, his left leg above the knee and his right arm after stepping on a IED while out on patrol in Afghanistan in 2009 –said: “As the employee, you need to make sure you’re at the top of your game, not just physically but mentally as well – and as the employer you need to look after your staff – that’s very important if you want to get the best out of your staff.

“From the veterans part of it – I think I’d like to see more companies sign up to support ex-servicemen and women in the local community by asking that question when they come for a job interview: ‘are you a veteran?’ but if they answer yes, don’t let that put you off because veterans have a lot to offer: values; standards; work ethics – and they don’t always come with complex issues.”

In St Helens, there’s a unique opportunity for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to wellbeing in the workforce through a funded resource providing advice and practical support available, from benchmarking to free health checks. For more information contact Sue Waller on 01744 676001 or email susanwaller@sthelens.gov.uk.

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