THE first workplace health champions have been created in Rossendale to improve the wellbeing of employees in local businesses.

Hannah Winkle has worked as a business development assistant and volunteer co-ordinator at The Hill home of Ski Rossendale in Rawtenstall for six years and was among the first to complete the champion training.

She said: “I have a degree in Sport Rehabilitation, but because of my own health I am not able to treat patients currently. Being a champion, allows me to use my knowledge and the skills I learnt on the course to make a difference at work.

“One of the first things I want to improve is nutrition. I would like to introduce a ‘make it yourself’ day one day a week where all staff and volunteers are encouraged to make their own healthy lunch and we all sit down and eat together.

“I want to do a survey to work out how much staff are spending by buying food and drinks ready-made rather than making it themselves; so they can see how much they can save.

“Being an outdoor activity centre, our workforce is active, but we can improve our own health by encouraging healthy eating.”

She said smoking was another issue she hoped to tackle, initially by encouraging people who smoke to only use designated areas, and by finding out what help there is for people who want to try to quit, or switch to a healthier option.

As a champion, Hannah has ongoing support from Active Lancashire and contacts she can email to assist with her plans.

She is also looking to offer free healthy snacks and drinks for staff and volunteers.

Hannah was one of eight people on the first training session at The Whitaker in Rawtenstall which was delivered by Health and Wellbeing Coach at Rossendale Primary Care Network Sarah Pilling and Chloe Frost from Rossendale Leisure Trust.

The Level 3 course was held over three days, with the first two being interactive and the third was practical when participants were assessed as they demonstrated their learning by delivering an activity they had planned.  

Sarah said: “The final assessment day was fabulous with a mixture of physical activities, including indoor tabletop curling, British Sign Language and also activities to improve wellbeing, mindfulness meditation, pebble painting and mindfulness colouring activity, all were enjoyed by the participants.”

The course is fully funded by The European Social Fund, and free for those working in Lancashire. Further courses are planned in March and times can fit around workplace availability.  

The champions’ project is part of Business Health Matters, a programme that has been developed in Lancashire by partners including the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Active Lancashire.

Leisure Trust staff have been trained to go into workplaces to deliver health screenings for employees and, based on the results, offer wellbeing advice and support.

To find out more about health screenings and champions email Leisure Trust Health and Wellbeing Manager Jodie English at Jodie.English@rltrust.co.uk or visit the Business Health Matters website www.businesshealthmatters.org.uk – Cathrine Smyth Media