West Midlands Mayor visits Cradley Heath firm to see mental health work

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has visited a manufacturer in the Black Country to see some of the mental health measures put in place.

Andy Howells, managing director of Howells and production manager Alex Montgomery meet Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands
Andy Howells, managing director of Howells and production manager Alex Montgomery meet Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands

Mr Street visited family-run Howells Patent Glazing, in Cradley Heath, which takes part in the Thrive at Work initiative to help its staff.

The scheme, by the West Midlands Combined Authority, helps to promote health and wellbeing across the Black Country and Birmingham.

Mr Street said: "It is vital we recognise the importance and benefits of good mental health not only for the individual that may be affected, but also for our wider economic recovery.

"I made mental health a clear priority in my election manifesto and I intend to continue to deliver on those promises. Positive mental health is good for the individual and good for the economy – no one should be left behind.

"Howells has clearly demonstrated how it puts the interests of its employees front and centre, in turn creating a workforce that I’m sure is more committed, happy and healthy. And what an inspired idea to reach out to nature to provide its team with that space to break away from their everyday pressures.

But it’s equally important we focus on those who may be experiencing barriers in actually getting into work. Our Thrive into Work programme provides that crucial support to help them over the threshold into the workplace, and then supports them once they are employed. To hear that the largest group to access this support is among 18-24 year olds is of concern because our young people are our future, so it’s important that the Thrive Into Work team is there to support them."

Howells, which manufactures roof-lights and canopies for domestic and commercial clients, signed up to the programme in 2018 and put in place action plans to support their employees mental health and wellbeing.

Despite being based on an industrial estate behind Cradley Heath station, the firm has provided access to their staff to two nature trails, where workers can go and switch off from the stresses of everyday life. One of the trails runs along Mousesweet Brook, close to Saltwell Nature Reserve, home to a wide variety of wildlife, including green and greater spotted woodpeckers.

Tracey Jackson, Howells business development manager, added: "We would like to thank the mayor for taking the time to visit us and for taking an interest in our work and wellbeing programme.

"We were one of the first to engage with the Mayor’s Mentor initiative which has certainly been a catalyst for change and progress. Two of our management team, myself included, have since become professionally trained coaches and mentors. This has given us the confidence to change perception, job craft and improve the mental health of our staff; invaluable resources for any SME."

For more information, visit https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/thrive/thrive-at-work/

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