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Businesses need to take over ‘a duty of care’ for young recruits

EMPLOYERS need to do more to give young new recruits the kind of pastoral care they receive in schools and colleges, Cumbrian business leaders will hear tomorrow. [WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 9]

The growing pressures on young people, a decline in communication skills of school leavers and graduates, combined with the changing world of work, is making the move from education to employment the single biggest mental health and wellbeing challenge for employers, says the county’s ‘This Is Me’ campaign.

‘This is Me’, launched in Cumbria in February, challenges the stigma around mental health at work by supporting people to tell their own stories, and provides a network of support and resources for businesses and employees.

It is backed by major employers Sellafield Ltd, the NDA, BAE Systems, Cumbria Police, University of Cumbria and by the campaign’s national partner Barclays Bank.

At the campaign’s second event, Moving From Education to Employment, on Wednesday [October 9] at Energus, more than 100 business leaders will hear how they can best support apprentices, graduates and early career employees to make that transition. Fifteen charities and organisations involved in mental health will have stands there too. The event takes place the day before World Mental Health Day.

Alan Rankin, People Transformation Lead at Sellafield, said the need to focus on early careers emerged after the launch event earlier this year, and that employers need to look how they can properly take over the ‘duty of care’ to young people that the education system has.

“That step up from education to employment more than ever is really challenging,” he said.

“The biggest challenge  facing young people is  that enter the workplace is that it can be really daunting. They  are going from an atmosphere where there is lots of pastoral care, teachers looking after you, your parents as well.

“The world of work can sometimes be seen as fending for yourself a bit. You may have a professional mentor and a good line manager but the nature of pastoral support is very different.

Young people are facing massive social challenges, says Mr Rankin. “Through my role as a school governor we see how teenagers tend to communicate with each other – through social media and remotely, with limited face to face contact  We risk having a  generation that is losing the ability to communicate face to face and this is leading to difficulties at interviews and in the workplace.

“Employers now need to meet halfway, and view it as young people are now entering the care of the employer, taking over that duty of care from schools, colleges and universities, and continuing that pastoral care.

“Employers now can’t afford to get this wrong. If employers don’t invest in reducing risks, barriers and fear, enabling a more seamless transition, and demystifying the world of work, people will leave and they face the cost of constant recruitment and training. It’s a positive return on investment.”

Speakers at Wednesday’s event include Michael Boaden from Carlisle and Eden MIND, who will outline the mental health landscape for young people in Cumbria; Kath Walker from the Nuclear Graduates scheme; Ian Burns from BAE on the employers’ perspective; Dave Wilson from the University of Cumbria on the educational perspective; and Ethan Cohen from PwC on young people’s perspective.

Also presenting will be a group of teenage West Cumbrians who started their own group called We Will to support young people and campaign for better support for youngsters with mental health problems.

Ian Burns, Safety, Health and Environment director at BAE Systems in Barrow said:

“We have a significant Early Careers programme involving almost 1,000 people. We have a strong business focus on mental wellbeing and we particularly recognise the life challenges that our Early Careers population can face.

“To address this and to help every Early Careers employee thrive and have the confidence to realise their full potential, we have a really strong focus on safeguarding and pastoral care. Our Early Careers team have their own highly successful support network which forms a key part of our overall approach to mental wellbeing.”

Dave Wilson, Mental Health and Wellbeing Manager, Staff and Student Support at University of Cumbria, said: “I am delighted to be speaking at the ‘This is me’ event about the importance of mental health and how we support our students here at the University of Cumbria.

“It’s vital that we all talk more openly about mental health and help to end the stigma associated with it. ‘This is me’ is designed to help organisations start conversations with their employees and encourage them to share their stories. Good mental health is just as important as good physical health to our wellbeing and no one should be afraid to ask for help or support. It’s great to be part of an event like this and joining in those conversations.”

The This Is Me campaign was started by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal in the City of London, in association with Barclays, and is being rolled out across the country.

The North West campaign, of which Cumbria is a part, aimed to have 300,000 employees in organisations signed up to This Is Me by next April, but is on track to hit 500,000.

Alan Rankin said 15 more Cumbrian employers had signed up after the February launch event. “We’ve started to work with each other. It’s about starting that conversation. There’s

no silver bullet. It’s about making the issue of mental health  visible, telling and sharing experiences, when credible people tell their stories, that’s the most powerful tool.”

The University of Cumbria is the latest major organisation to join the steering group.

Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, pro vice chancellor (health), University of Cumbria

Professor Brian J Webster-Henderson, Pro Vice Chancellor (Health), said: “We are really pleased to join the ‘This Is Me’ campaign with our partners across the county.

“As Cumbria’s university we proudly train a wide range of existing and future healthcare professionals, all of whom learn the importance of developing good mental health and wellbeing among patients alongside their physical health needs.

“And as a major employer, the mental health and wellbeing of our own staff and all of our students is also vitally important to us and the communities across Cumbria that we serve. ‘This Is Me’ provides us all with an excellent platform to start those conversations.”

Inspector Annette McClement, Cumbria Constabulary’s Time to Change and This is Me lead, said: “This is a platform to give young people a voice and highlight their challenges.

“We don’t have all the answers but what we can do is put businesses in touch with places and tools so that they can get the support they need.

“By reducing the stigma around mental health it can be viewed as a strength, adding resilience, enabling people to recognise the signs in others and offer support.  We will then not only strengthen our workforce but also our community.

“As a representative of Cumbria Constabulary I am proud to work with my partners in the This is Me campaign.”

The second This Is Me even takes place on Wednesday 9 October from 8- 11:30am at Energus, Blackwood Road, Lillyhall, Workington, CA14 4JW.  To attend please register by emailing [email protected]

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