Princes is expanding its mental health first aider programme after a successful trial at two of its canning sites.
A team of ten mental health first aiders are working at each of the company’s food production sites in Long Sutton and Wisbech.
The Mental Health First Aider programme is now being extended to Princes other six sites across the UK, including its head office in Liverpool, ahead of a planned international roll-out.
Joe Dent, Chief People Officer of Princes, said: “The health and wellbeing of our colleagues is of the utmost importance to us. Whether colleagues are facing emotional, physical or financial challenges, we want to do what we can to spot the signs and to support and steer them to access the right help.
“We’re very proud at what we have achieved in Long Sutton and Wisbech and we’re looking forward to the programme being rolled out across Princes both in the UK and internationally. It is already making a real difference.”
Rachel Naylor, Princes HR Business Partner at Long Sutton and Wisbech, said: “We are delighted at how well received the Mental Health First Aider Programme has been and by the number of people who have volunteered to be trained.
“Our Mental Health First Aiders are very visible in the business. They wear stickers on their hats, badges or lanyards so they’re instantly recognisable and their details and photographs are on our colleague noticeboards. During the pandemic they wore face masks with ‘I’m here to help’ written on them.
“They have great empathy and when they ask people how they are, they are always ready to listen.
“We have created calm environments where colleagues can relax, talk and discuss their problems.”
Patrick Hickey, 58, a Multi-skilled Operator at Princes’ Long Sutton site, trained as a Mental Health First Aider 18 months ago.
He said: “I’ve helped about 50 people with a range of issues, from a cancer diagnosis to a bereavement, concern about being able to pay a bill or get out of debt or a work concern.
“I’ve heard some tough stories but I’m pleased that people feel happy to open up and talk to me. You become like their family, part of their support network.
“Colleagues pick their time to talk to you. It can be outside of work, over a coffee in the canteen and I’ve taken urgent requests for guidance in the middle of the night.
“Mental Health First Aiders are not doctors and we can’t give medical help but we can steer people in the right direction.
“I find the role very rewarding. At times of difficulty, lots of people in life just need a little support and they don’t know where to access it. Our role gives us the opportunity to help.
“I’m proud of what we have achieved at Long Sutton and Wisbech and that the program is being rolled out to our other sites.”
Between Long Sutton and the Wisbech canning factory in Cambridgeshire, the two sites collectively produce more than a billion cans of branded and customer own brand food a year and employ hundreds of people.
Long Sutton in Lincolnshire is Princes largest food production site in the UK and where the company produces a range of canned food including baked beans, vegetables, fruit, pulses, pasta and meatballs.
Wisbech is home to the well-known household soup brand Crosse & Blackwell.
The Mental Health First Aiders programme is part of Princes’ People Excellence Strategy and its Health & Wellbeing offering.
Last month (February), Princes launched a new Health & Wellbeing Campaign with a major focus on mental health. Princes’ Chief People Officer Joe Dent talked in a film about his own personal mental health challenges and coping mechanisms.