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Stronger Together: Meet the Living Wage Employers championing mental health during the pandemic

Our annual Champion Awards ceremony on June 16th will celebrate and recognise the outstanding contributions individuals and organisations have made to the Living Wage movement. This year, to recognise the contribution of Living Wage Employers in the fight against Covid-19, we have introduced a new “Covid-19 Stronger Together” award category. We have been blown away by the inspirational stories of Living Wage Employers who have gone above and beyond to protect and support their communities through the pandemic. We couldn’t wait until June to share these with you, so in the lead up to the ceremony, we’ll be celebrating their efforts every week.

We have been living through a collective trauma. The coronavirus pandemic shattered life as we knew it and sadly took the lives of thousands before their time. At the same time, the cures for stopping the spread of the virus – social distancing and multiple lockdowns – disarmed us of the very means to remedy the pain of the past year. Human connection, a hug, the simple act of being with other people have been off-limits.

By its nature, being part of the Living Wage movement, means championing wellbeing. After surveying people working full-time but being paid less than the Living Wage, our Life on Low Pay report highlighted that low pay is a trigger for poor mental health, with 46% of respondents telling us that their pay negatively affected their levels of anxiety.

In the pandemic, members of our movement have taken their commitment to wellbeing further, going above and beyond to pull together and support each other through this trying time.

Meet the Living Wage Employers who have been championing mental health during Covd-19.

Mind in Croydon

The mental health charity supported 5,563 people with their mental health between 2019 and 2020 and provided 492 with counselling. Conscious of the difficult time that Christmas is for many, they held socially distanced Christmas meals for 150 people over many days, ensuring they weren’t forgotten and giving them the resilience to face the cold dark months ahead knowing we really are stronger together.

North Kesteven District Council

To support the mental wellbeing of colleagues during lockdown, North Kesteven District Council introduced:

  • Shape Hour (one hour during the working day devoted to fitness classes or outside activities)
  • A Summer Challenge (a team-wide competition during the summer months)
  • Mindfulness and meditation sessions
  • Access to a counsellor

Kingdom Housing Association

Zoom fatigue? Not at Kingdom Housing Association! To boost morale at the beginning of the first lockdown, KHA introduced ‘dress up Fridays’ where staff would dress up before going on video calls. They also set up frequent and regular team calls and established a ‘virtual canteen’ for people to maintain social contact with colleagues.

Purity Fundraising

Ran Wellbeing Wednesday sessions and "Feelgood Friday" get togethers including quizzes, "Purity's Got Talent’ and an Oscar awards ceremony to allow their team time away from day to day work to connect with colleagues.  Set up a fund to support financially with any wellbeing and mental health issues, signed up to give mental health and wellbeing support free for the whole team and their families, plus six of the team have become qualified mental health first aiders.

Antimatter Games

To improve the work life balance of staff, Antimatter Games reduced core hours from 10am - 4pm to 11am - 3pm and when schools closed were removed them completely for anyone with child care responsibilities. Throughout the last year they also sent care packages to their team, with bespoke gifts, luxury food snacks and some fun merch and shopping vouchers to lift spirits.

Kilbarchan Community Nursery SCIO

Funded staff to sign up for personal exercise challenges during lockdown to motivate them to get out in the fresh air for some exercise, to support their physical and mental wellbeing. They also funded staff-night-in sessions where staff could meet virtually over zoom with snacks provided. Took a supportive, flexible approach to staff having to home school children when the nursery is open for vulnerable or keyworker children.

Ellie Ellie

Ellie Ellie’s mission is to bring people together through all life’s moments and they took that mission to heart during the pandemic. As a giftware brand, they sent out free postcards to help connect people, connecting a total of just over 50,000 people to date.

The Wise Group

Devised a wellbeing package to support colleagues during the pandemic that resulted in a 59% reduction in absenteeism since March 2020. The package included:

  • Wellbeing calls to colleagues most at-risk of mental ill-health
  • Mental wellbeing sessions three times per week
  • Colleague-led yoga and meditation sessions

Indigo Swan

For Indigo Swan, happiness leads to success, not the other way around. To support the wellbeing of colleagues, they adopted shorter working days and encouraged taking more breaks from work. All staff are entitled to a monthly wellbeing allowance which can be put towards online classes, books or office equipment to support home-working.

SRS Care Solutions

Highlighted the efforts to promote mental wellbeing of their colleague Sandy, who became a mental health champion and company-wide mental health first aider. Sandy and his small team have enabled many of our staff to stay at work, providing confidential support and intervention in mental health crises. Well done Sandy!

Career Connect

Made staff wellbeing a central focus, introducing regular video blogs by the CEO to keep staff fully informed on changing guidance; individual reviews to identify where working practises needed to change to support wellbeing; a staff-wide wellbeing survey; and a care package posted to every employee. Feedback from one staff member read: “This really cheered my heart, I’ve never felt so appreciated”.


WCVA, the organisation the supports the third sector in Wales, made staff wellbeing a priority during the pandemic, hiring premises for staff to work in when their home situation made working from home too difficult. They also led weekly staff meetings to keep spirits up, discussing books and holding virtual chat sessions, ending with music selected by staff.


Supported wellbeing by:

  • Introducing a Covid-19 support fund to financially support colleagues
  • Creating a Home Schooling Support group to support those with children learning from home
  • Introducing regular surveys to evaluate how well the business was responding to health and wellbeing requirements.

Register to join our online ceremony on 16 June, 6-7.30pm to find out the winners of this category, and many others.

7th May 2021
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