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YMCA Cornwall

Recognising the equal value of all seeking to serve the community

What we do:

The YMCA is an independent charity company, limited by guarantee, and is part of an International Christian Movement which recognises the equal value of all people seeking to serve the community in Cornwall with an emphasis on the young, by providing them with a stimulating and supportive environment, enabling them to enrich their lives and the lives of others.

As a charity, the organisation has always been subject to fluctuations in funding and, as such, often has often had to make difficult decisions in terms of ending contracts. This year it has made some key decisions that will make it more self-sufficient by closing the Backpackers Hostel because of increasing competition and customers desires for more sophisticated accommodation, and work has begun on increasing our Housing stock by converting the old Backpackers into flats so that we can take in more young people off the streets.

Why we became a healthy workplace:

YMCA Cornwall signed up to the Healthy Workplace Award in November 2011. YMCA Cornwall quickly recognised that by tackling the workplace health criteria holistically, it could help improve the health of the workforce and help them cope better with the changes that occur regularly well as making YMCA Cornwall a great place to work and improving its corporate image. The Directors/Trustees at YMCA Cornwall have always given their full backing and have always been extremely supportive during the process, becoming personally involved. Changes were introduced gradually over the years and became part of the culture and we have now received our fourth Gold Award.

Recent health and well being activities:

We also reviewed absence management procedures and introduced return-to-work interviews in order to ensure we could support employees also introducing professional occupational health support for managers to use for the first time. These initiatives have seen the absence rate drop and remain very low with none related to stress and no long term absence this year.

The changes falling under the Workplace Health Initiative were very much in line with the philosophies of Investors in People and we achieved this accreditation in June 2014 which demonstrates how far we have come as an organisation.

We have bi-annual staff surveys which have shown a massive improvement and have set up consultation forums with staff who want to be involved on different initiatives.

A ‘Health and Well-Being’ directory was set up on the intranet containing information about all sorts of health issues covering different types of cancer, healthy eating, physical activity, alcohol, diabetes and substance abuse among many other topics. This is supported by displays and awareness events held throughout the year to cover various issues such as alcohol, skin cancer, and breast cancer awareness days, stop smoking days, etc. This information contains the latest advice and signposts employees to areas where they can obtain further help and information.

In terms of stress and depression, we introduced a self-referral system for staff to a counsellor if they needed some independent support. Pat Ashwood, our Housing Manager, was also appointed Workplace Champion for this subject having had training in the area and lots of experience on where to signpost people for additional support. We also signed up to the Mental Health Charter for Employers positive about mental health. Last year, Louise Mallas, The Human Resources Manager became an Ambassador for This Girl Can in Cornwall. She has since taken up running and runs a blog on Twitter encouraging other women to take up exercise whilst reporting on her progress. She is currently training for a half-marathon taking place in May to raise funds for Alzheimers Research.

"For a lot of employees, the maintenance of individual health is often seen as a difficult challenge amidst competing demands of the work day, family responsibilities and other social obligations. However, adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours not only reduces the risk of developing disabling or life threatening diseases but improves everyday quality of life.
Our workplace health programme addresses both individual health behaviours as well as health and safety risks from the work environment which also reduce disease and injury risk. Participation in activities allows employees to develop knowledge, self-management and coping skills as well as build a social support network among their fellow workers, managers, and family. A comprehensive workplace health programme is an investment made by the YMCA for staff well-being and reflects how much we care about our employees".  David Hall-Davies, CEO, YMCA Cornwall

- Director

St. Austell Brewery won a gold award on their first year of taking part in the programme. Chrissie Knight, Occupational Health Manager for the brewery, commented, “Caring for and investing in the workforce has always been a priority at the Brewery and it is wonderful to gain recognition for the work that takes place at all levels to ensure that we remain an employer of choice for people in the South West, which is not only because of the opportunities that exist at many levels within the organisation, but also because of the support and benefits that exist for all employees”

Employee Feedback

"I am lucky to work for an organisation whose management has whole-heartedly supported me throughout the process of obtaining the Healthy Workplace Awards.  The Directors have never said ‘no’ and it is great to know that my employer is interested in everyone’s well-being at work.  Not only have they approved my initiatives but they have also led by example and joined in some of them too.  They have committed, what are for us, scarce resources and agreed more flexible working policies as well as offering support to staff who may struggle with work or with personal problems through solid employment policies and management techniques"- Louise Mallas, YMCA Cornwall

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