Conscious Employer Awards

Championed by staff across the organisation following the untimely death of a colleague’s wife, the Park’s innovative mental wellbeing programme has won the ‘Best Mental Health Awareness Initiative Award’ at the inaugural Conscious Employer Awards.

Founded by the not-for-profit group, Conscious Benefits, the Conscious Employer Awards celebrate companies of all shapes and sizes and the people behind them, recognising outstanding initiatives, best practice and world-class performances in the workplace.

The judges were incredibly impressed with the Park’s determination to turn a tragic situation into positive change through the implementation of a business-wide wellbeing strategy.

“Our mental wellbeing strategy has been carefully designed to create a long-term culture change across the Authority which will benefit employees for years to come, it isn’t a short-term fix,” said Mary Wallace, HR Officer at Northumberland National Park.

“Our vision is to create an open and welcoming workplace environment where people are tuned-in to the emotions of their colleagues and feel like they can reach out for help if they need it.

“By sharing experiences and creating the space to talk freely, we hope to actively reduce the stigma around mental health.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Chairman of Northumberland National Park with Mary Wallace, HR Manager and Tony Gates, Chief Executive.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Chairman of Northumberland National Park with Mary Wallace, HR Manager and Tony Gates, Chief Executive.

In the past two years, the Park has rolled out mental health resilience training to all staff to help employees recognise the signs of mental ill health and know how to respond to it. Mental health advocates have also been appointed to give employees a dedicated point of contact for any issues they might have.

The internal changes to the National Park’s approach to mental health and general wellbeing is mirrored in its activity programme for visitors, with guided ‘Walks to Wellbeing’ taking place throughout the walking season at various locations across the Park.

Feedback from the judges about the National Park’s Conscious Employer Award entry read:

‘Northumberland National Park Authority is a caring company that looks after its employees just as well as its volunteers and visitors. It offers its staff a range of benefits and a mental well-being programme, plus its Organisational Development Strategy including a robust recruitment process and ongoing staff development.’

‘The success of the organisation is based on two-way communication and continuous training of staff. Congratulations to Northumberland National Park Authority for supporting its staff to grow their knowledge, develop in a healthy manner and create a great place to work.’

You can find out more about Northumberland National Park’s ‘Walks to Wellbeing’ programme at: https://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/things-to-do/get-active-outdoors/walking/walk-to-wellbeing/