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College achieves gold for staff health pledge

Sunderland College has been presented with the gold Better Health at Work Award

A gold award has been handed to Sunderland College in recognition of its commitment to staff and their health.

The college was presented with the accolade by North East Better Health at Work Award (BHAWA) to celebrate the work it has undertaken to promote mental and physical wellbeing.

For the past three years, Sunderland College has taken part in the regional scheme which recognises the efforts of employers in addressing health issues in the workplace.

A Wellbeing Action Group was set up in 2014 to organise a range of healthy living activities and campaigns for staff and students, including free health check-ups, exercise classes and mental and physical health workshops, as well as promoting healthy eating options on campus.

Since its inception, the group has worked towards the BHAWA scheme, securing bronze and silver awards for the college, before being handed gold at a recent ceremony at Sunderland’s Quayside Exchange.

Helen Willan, chair of the Wellbeing Action Group, said: “We are really pleased to have achieved our gold award as part of the scheme.  At Sunderland College, this has enabled us to achieve much more than we could ever have expected when embedding health and wellbeing into the workplace, and as an education provider it has helped us to diversify the ways in which we have done this for both our staff and students.”

To achieve the latest award, the college had to promote at least five different health and wellbeing campaigns which included raising awareness of mental health, organising a healthy living week and promoting manual handling for staff.

The group also raised £1,000 for the mental health charity, Mind, via a ‘mind over matter’ challenge where staff and students were encouraged to walk, run or cycle between college campuses.

Ellen Thinnesen, Sunderland College principal, said: “We take the health and wellbeing of our staff very seriously and I am delighted that we have been recognised for our efforts. We have achieved a great deal since the Wellbeing Action Group formed, including a higher take-up of exercise by both staff and students, a range of healthy eating options available in all campuses and a general change in attitude towards fitness and health.

“As an organisation responsible for the welfare and safeguarding of young people, it is vital that we are leading the way in the provision of initiatives that will improve the health and wellbeing of both our employees and students.”

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