Robert's Weekly Column - Wednesday 10th October 2018

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, so ensuring that the mental health of employees is on the agenda at workplaces in Swindon and encouraging a positive climate to discuss mental health at work amongst local employers is vital. This is not only relevant to the wellbeing of all of those who work locally, but also to help maintain a strong local economy.

On Monday, I attended and spoke at the Swindon Mindful Employer Network Conference at the Marriott Hotel here in Swindon. This year’s conference focused on “Inspiring Mental Wellness in the Workplace” with inspirational speakers providing a whole host of excellent ideas and tips on how to improve health and mental wellbeing for employees at the network event.

Public Health at Swindon Borough Council has funded the Swindon Mindful Employer Network since it began in 2008 and over the years, this local network has grown and developed to fulfil an increasingly relevant role in the local economy, helping local businesses to provide a healthier workplace, and exploring new mental health strategies to improve profitability, reduce unwanted costs and build winning teams.

Swindon Mindful Employer is open to any employer, small, medium or large, private, public or voluntary sector, and I would encourage all local businesses to join.  Further information can be found by visiting http://www.mindfulemployer.net/charter/signatories/south-west/

Last Thursday, I was delighted to open Threshold’s Health and Wellness Juices shop in Swindon town centre, along with a number of local “Businesses Against Homelessness Supporters”. 

The brand new social enterprise follows on from a successful juicing project at Culvery Court, Swindon’s direct access homeless hostel, and is run by volunteers including Mark Mutlow, a former Culvery Court resident, who helped come up with the idea of juicing at the hostel. Mark hopes that the new initiative will help people, like him, to get off the streets and overcome addiction.

I am genuinely excited by projects like this and I very much hope it takes off – not just amongst the homeless community, but as a place where people from all parts of our local community can come together.

The Government is now providing more and more funding to help tackle rough sleeping and homelessness – that’s great, but it will only translate to reality on the ground with the support of our council and businesses. That’s why initiatives like this, and Mark’s story is inspirational.  It’s not easy to suddenly move away from a life of addiction. What Mark has done is admirable and I am confident that he will achieve his goal of a paid job.

Finally, I am pleased that the Government has announced new measures to tackle serious crime. Overall, crime has fallen over the past twenty years, but recently we have seen an increase in certain violent crime, like gun crime, knife crime and homicide.

Building on the serious violence strategy, the Government will consult on introducing a statutory duty on individual agencies to work together on serious violence. A £200 million Youth Endowment Fund to focus on violent crime hotspot areas will also be introduced and a review will be conducted into drug misuse to turn up the dial on our efforts to tackle drugs.

I will continue to work closely with Wiltshire Police and local residents to tackle any issues of crime that arise in South Swindon.