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Gloucestershire Business News

Insurer offers mental health support for Gloucester employees during pandemic

As continued lockdown restrictions put the topic of mental health even more firmly in the spotlight, one Brockworth-based employer is going the extra mile to support its employees.

Ageas Insurance, which employs 680 people at its office at Gloucester Business Park, has trained up a dedicated team of 'mental health first aiders'.

And, with the Covid-19 pandemic creating the potential for people to feel more worried or isolated, the group of specially-trained volunteers are being even more vocal in their message that they're there to help.

Ageas' mental health first aiders aim to support employees by listening and providing vital signposting to people to professional help if it's needed.

They can still provide assistance during the lockdown, either online or over the phone for those working from home.

Talent and development consultant Lisa McGill is one of nearly 30 mental health first aiders at Ageas.

She said: "It's great that Ageas supports and encourages all their mental health first aiders and it's a real privilege to be one of them. It's such a rewarding role, particularly when you can see that you have really helped someone to move forward and get the help that they need just by taking the time to listen.

"Our confidential service is there for anyone who needs us, whether they are working from the office or home. Everyone and every situation is different and we're trained to offer individual support. We're here to help."

Lyn Nicholls, HR director at Ageas UK, said: "The pandemic has brought new challenges for all of us to navigate. Some might be feeling lonely, others stressed and some anxious about their health. Whatever people may be feeling, it's important they know they are not alone. The wellbeing of our staff is incredibly important to us and our mental health first aiders are always here and ready to help."

The mental wellbeing of staff has been a particular focus for Ageas during the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as providing access to mental health first aiders, Ageas has organised everything from fitness challenges and colouring competitions to online groups for parents and wellbeing guides.

The insurance company has not furloughed any of its employees and around 90 per cent of employees have continued to work from home since the initial lockdown earlier this year.

Ms Nicholls added: "For some, home working has been more difficult and we've been identifying and speaking to those people to make sure they're getting the right support. If it's clear that it's better for those people to be in the office for their mental health we've worked hard to support that, with strict social distancing and safety measures in place on site."

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