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Local Housing Association, Choice Housing has further committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of their colleagues through the launch of a range of new initiatives as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.  The association, who have 741 properties in the Newry Mourne & Down area is highlighting the impact the pandemic has had and the importance of support for both its tenants and staff.

In 2019, a comprehensive Health & Wellbeing Programme was launched by Choice which included the appointment of four voluntary Health & Wellbeing Champions with an allocated budget to drive the health & wellbeing agenda. Since the pandemic this need has grown significantly, and Choice has responded to this by offering a wider range of support programmes over the last twelve months.

Edel McLaughlin, HR & Training Officer and Niall McStay, Choice Housing Area Housing Officer. During the pandemic Choice has delivered a wide range of support programmes for their staff.
Edel McLaughlin, HR & Training Officer and Niall McStay, Choice Housing Area Housing Officer. During the pandemic Choice has delivered a wide range of support programmes for their staff.

These include Protecting Yourself When Homeworking; Vital Nutrition and Sleep Well Workshops; Building Resilience and Mental Strength; Suicide Awareness; Mental Health Awareness and Communication; Mental Health First Aid; and Financial Wellbeing.  

As well as a range of training and support programmes, Choice has also committed to supporting their teams practically, including providing several colleagues with access to iPads aimed at helping to facilitate home-schooling during the pandemic. As part of an organisation wide ICT upgrade several iPads were ear marked for colleagues who needed them while working remotely. Access to or the need to share IT equipment in homes has made remote learning particularly challenging. 

Lawrence Jackson Choice Group Director of Corporate Services said “During the summer last year, we undertook a period of extensive engagement with colleagues to get a sense of what they were feeling and how we, as an employer could help. As a result, we have progressed several initiatives aimed at helping our staff build resilience to cope with the ongoing stress and uncertainty caused by Coronavirus”.

“Following ongoing engagement with our staff it was clear that many of our team who were working from home were struggling to balance remote working with the demands of home-schooling and a big part of that was the availability of technology. This type of practical support is important during these challenging times as we adapt to a new way of living and working”.

“With the pressures the pandemic has put on people and their lives, we have seen an increase in participation on a number of training programmes from previous years with some of our courses increasing by up to 130 participants from 2019. This demonstrates how important these initiatives are for our colleagues and the role employers need to play in supporting employees and their wellbeing”.

Choice has also signed up to the Mental Health Charter and appointed Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) to support employees.

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