A South Shields bus depot has been recognised for its commitment to improving the health of its staff in South Shields, after receiving the Bronze Better Health at Work Award.
Employees at Stagecoach North East’s depot on Dean Road received the award as part of a regional initiative to promote health and wellbeing in workplaces across the north east. The company has signed up to the minimum four-year programme and will build up to achieve Silver, Gold and Continuing Excellence standard over the next three years.
The programme, which is a partnership between local authorities in the region, the Northern TUC and local providers, including the NHS, has recognised the hard work and dedication shown by Stagecoach North East in its efforts to improve the health of the workplace and employees at the South Shields bus depot.
To achieve the Bronze Award, ‘health advocates’ at the depot took up the challenge of promoting the health and wellbeing scheme among staff, with a series of workplace health campaigns and fitness activities taking place over the past 12 months.
Three staff members took up the role of internal health advocates – operations manager Janine Fowley and bus drivers Elke Walker and Adam Parker – as part of the award and spearheaded the initiative within the organisation.
The team carried out a ‘Health Needs’ survey and found the top three topics staff wanted to improve were men's and women's health (including stress, back pain), physical activity and healthy eating, so they looked at various activities that could be achieved in the workplace and beyond.
The depot team had a great time at the Active Workplace Games, an event organised by Tyne Wear Sports, and competed against other corporate organisations such as Barclays and Virgin Money. The team of 12 were able to take part in activities they haven’t had the opportunity to try before, such as archery, which led to two team members taking it up as a hobby, and Batak - a series of lights on a frame to press when lit to test speed, agility and response times. They also took part in a Halloween-themed games competition and dressed the part with fake knives and axes!
Janine said: “Given the nature of the business, it can be difficult to get groups of people together at the same time so a lot of our work for the portfolio was centred around visual campaigns, such as ‘poop’ posters displayed during Bowel Cancer Awareness Week. Whilst the reaction to the posters was a bit of fun, the message was serious and the campaign got people thinking about the subject. A urine colour chart soon followed and many drivers realised that they need to increase their intake of water. It is a common trait as most drivers are guilty of not drinking enough water so they can avoid going to the toilet whilst out on the road.”
Adam, a bus driver for 10 years, and controlling the South Shields bus network as AVL Co-ordinator for 2 years said: “As part of men's health week we measured the circumference of the waist and highlighted that belly measurements above 37 inches could increase the risk of having heart disease, diabetes and cancer. We looked at portion sizes and what the recommended guidelines are, in some cases these were surprisingly smaller than what was contained in our lunch boxes!”
South Shields bus driver Elke Walker, who has worked at the depot for 12 years, said: “One of our drivers - Kenny Brown - became the poster boy for slimming after losing six stones. He was nominated and won the Bronze Award in the Stagecoach Champion Awards and has since been inspired to become a Slimming World consultant and ran the Great North Run last year.”
Janine added: “Everyone at the depot has taken this scheme on wholeheartedly and have achieved great personal goals already as a result. There are so many benefits to this scheme for the company and the staff, and the commitment is so strong, that we are now well underway with planning for the next level of the Award programme.”
“I am delighted with the response by the whole of the depot, who have embraced the challenges and activities on offer, I would like to congratulate them and Adam and Elke on their efforts in achieving this award.
“Quite simply, our staff are our most important asset and we put our employees’ health and wellbeing first and foremost, so a programme such as Better Health at Work makes absolute sense to both the team and the company.”
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “It is great to see Stagecoach come on board with the Better Health at Work Award and I am delighted that employees are already reaping the benefits of the scheme.
"Being in good quality employment is good for both mental and physical health as it empowers people and reduces poverty and social exclusion so the more companies who participate in this scheme, the better it is for our residents."
Any employer can take part in the free Better Health at Work Award. For more information visit www.betterhealthatworkne.org