1 May 13

Government health expert backs Sunderland business

NECA’s lead health advisor David Messenger discusses alcohol-related health issues with Professor Dame Carol Black at EDF Energy

One of the Government’s leading health advisors has championed a Wearside employer’s efforts to improve workplace health.

Professor Dame Carol Black, expert advisor on work and health at the Department of Health, visited EDF Energy in Sunderland to find out more about the customer service centre’s health and wellbeing programme.

EDF Energy, based at Doxford Business Park, has introduced several initiatives to promote healthy living and encourage staff, their families and the wider community to improve their general wellbeing.

The energy company’s Sunderland customer services centre is working towards the gold NHS North East Better Health at Work Award for improving health and wellbeing after achieving silver earlier this year.

Professor Dame Carol Black met with a team of staff at the Doxford Park-based customer service centre who have volunteered to be ‘health advocates’. Over the past two years the team has been responsible for implementing an engaging health and wellbeing programme for the office’s 1,800 members of staff.

During Dame Carol’s visit the health advocates hosted a drink awareness event with NHS specialists and representatives from Northumbria Police. The week-long campaign educated staff within the centre on alcohol related issues and providing help, support and advice.

Dame Carol said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting EDF Energy in Sunderland to see first-hand some of the fantastic work that is being done to create a people-focused, health conscious working environment.

“Employees at EDF Energy not only have access to health advice and support in their place of work they can also use the free onsite gym and can choose from a range of healthy menu options in the restaurant.

“It’s very exciting to see such commitment from an employer to improve the health and wellbeing of its staff. It is my hope that an increasing number of businesses will also invest in the health and wellbeing of their staff.”

Tracey Forshaw, senior manager and better health ambassador, said: “We were delighted to welcome Dame Carol to our offices and to give her an insight into the efforts we make to help staff to lead a happy and balanced lifestyle.

“We understand the benefits of having a happy and healthy workforce, and our health and wellbeing initiatives are very much focussed on providing advice and guidance on a range of common issues.

“This year it is our intention to ensure that families, friends and local communities also benefit from our approach and the importance we place on improved health within the workplace.

“We’re also now being approached by other local companies that want us to mentor them to create a successful programme for their employees.”

The Sunderland office is now leading the way and supporting the energy company’s customer service sites in the south to introduce similar health and wellbeing initiatives. The extension of the programme will benefit around 5000 further employees.