This year’s URTU Learning Annual Conference was held at the De Vere Orchard Hotel, Nottingham. The conference opened its doors to not only ULR’s but to all union Lay Representatives, employers and providers. This year’s conference looked at health and wellbeing and celebrated a ULR’s achievement at getting learning started in the workplace.
Despite storm Emma and the Beast from the East making traveling difficult and near impossible for delegates and speakers, we had a good turn out on the day.
Mel Eyley supported by Sarah Hewitt from Passport to Wellbeing, ran the morning session around health and wellbeing. Mel started the session by explaining that we all have mental health but we don’t all have poor mental health. We only really think of mental health in a negative way whereas we need to think of mental health in the same way we think of physical health, people can be in good or poor physical health the same as they can be in good or poor mental health. There is a stigma around mental health that people feel, especially men, that it is a weakness if they talk about it, but the greatest cure for poor mental health is talking.
The data from the office of national statistics is there were 5,965 suicides reported in 2016 in the UK and three quarters of these were men.
Mel went on to talk about stress in the workplace, we will all have experienced this at some point. Stress is when you are in a situation whether at work or in your home life that puts pressure on you and you have a feeling of not being in control. This could be excessive workloads, or juggling a busy day with your family to try and get them to all their different activity groups. Mel informed us that it is important to remember that being under pressure is a normal part of life and most of us need a degree of pressure to fulfil our potential. We had an open discussion on how people manage their stress and the different ways people do this. Examples given were going for run, talking with friends, gardening, relaxing baths and in moderation alcohol, as too much alcohol could lead to further problems.
We looked at the five steps to mental wellbeing which are Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Give to others and Take Notice. We looked at how different things could be stressful for different people and just because a situation may not stress you out, it could for someone else and with this in mind how we could be more empathic when speaking with people.
For the final part of the session the delegates where split into two groups, and were set the task of creating a person. This person had poor mental health and the groups had to describe this person’s life and situation and then look at ways of helping them to improve their mental health using the five steps to mental wellbeing.
This session received great response from the delegates, and Mel quoted ” Passport To Wellbeing were pleased to be asked to present at the URTU Learning Annual Conference. We are passionate about mental health and removing the stigma and discrimination that surrounds it, so the more we can talk about it the better. The attendees were a great bunch of guys who seemed really engaged and willing to talk about mental health and how it affects people. They also recognised that the dual role they play in their working lives means it’s essential that they consider their own wellbeing as well as that of others. By taking such an active part in the case studies at the end the attendees were able to consider that different people need different types of support and that mental health isn’t one size fits all. A really great session, thanks to everyone for their participation.“
For the afternoon session Jim Thomas who is the ULR, Shop Steward, Health & Safety Rep and Branch Secretary at XPO Stone. Spoke about his journey at becoming a ULR and getting learning going in the workplace, you can read his full article in the next edition of Wheels. It was great to hear from a ULR who has got learning going as it is not always an easy journey but definitely a worthwhile one.