£8m workplace health programme launches

Business Health Matters, a revolutionary new initiative that will support businesses across Lancashire in improving the health and wellbeing of their employees has launched today, Monday 13th September.

Supported by 18 delivery partners and a number of regional and national organisations, the Active Lancashire led programme has brought together the expertise of specialists at the University of Central Lancashire, ukactive and Lancashire Mind to deliver a tailored and affordable workplace health offer to Lancashire-based SMEs.

As a result of this three-year programme, employees across the county will be empowered to take ownership and improve their own health and wellbeing, whilst businesses will benefit from a healthier, happier and more resilient workforce.

In response to the increased levels of poor health within Lancashire’s workforce, the programme offers two main services to businesses in the form of the ESF-funded Workplace Health Champion Training and the government-backed Workplace Health Screenings service. The free training includes basic skills (Mathematics, English and ESOL) and a Level 2 and Level 3 NCFE-accredited qualification for those individuals who wish to drive change in their organisations and create a network of health ambassadors across the county. The screenings, focused on employees aged 50+, combine a physical health assessment and mental health element to produce a unique tool for employees to learn more about their own health and take positive steps to improve it.

The programme has undertaken a robust training and pilot phase over the last 12 months, where staff from leisure trusts and local authorities have undergone extensive training to deliver both the Workplace Health Champion Training and the Workplace Health Screening service. Today’s launch signals the start of the delivery of this exciting programme which will aim to train 5,000 Workplace Health Champions and conduct over 15,000 health screenings in the workplace, over the next 3 years.

Adrian Leather, chief executive at Active Lancashire, explained: “Speaking to Lancashire businesses and business leaders, I repeatedly hear about the loss of staff due to sickness and poor attendance at work; some of it due to the pandemic, much of it due to long term health conditions. Today’s launch of Business Health Matters creates a significant opportunity to increase the competitiveness of our 53,000 businesses and the productivity of our 650,000 workers in Lancashire. The research shows that by improving the mental and physical health of employees in Lancashire, we can reduce rate of sickness absence in the county and increase those retained in employment. By bringing these levels in line with national averages, the economy in Lancashire would grow by £3Bn per year.

“Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated delivery partners and our team, I am very confident Business Health Matters will drive tangible change within businesses and improve productivity, staff satisfaction and retention for years to come.”

Combining £5m investment from the European Social Fund and £3million from the UKRI’s healthy ageing challenge, the launch of the programme is a landmark moment for Lancashire with a huge potential to benefit Lancashire’s economy and ease the strain on the county’s health services, with support from a range of partners including Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Chambers of Commerce, Sport England and Lancashire County Council.

Businesses can now learn more about the programme via our website here, with a video to explain the services on offer available via our website and social media channels. Employers interested in participating in one or both of the services are encouraged to register on our website.

For further information on the programme, please email businesshealthmatters@activelancashire.org.uk or call 01772 299830.