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Wellbeing focus helps advocacy group as it expands during pandemic

A West Wales advocacy charity has hailed the services provided by community interest company RCS, naming it one of the reasons it has been able to retain staff and expand during the pandemic.

Advocacy West Wales (AWW) saw an increase in demand for its resources once Covid hit, and due to the additional demand as well as a planned merger, the team has doubled from 12 to 24 over the last 2 years.

The organisation, which provides independent advocacy support to those with needs for care and support, including mental health issues, within Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, and Ceredigion, faced the challenge of maintaining its wellbeing-focused and supportive culture once lockdowns came into effect.

Aiming to provide support to employees working remotely as well as help settle new starters coming from two advocacy groups acquired by AWW, the company turned to RCS to help ensure team members’ health and wellbeing was the priority.

RCS, which provides its In Work Support scheme, which is part-funded by European Social Funding through Welsh Government, to businesses with less than 250 employees operating across West Wales, tailored a wellbeing-focused plan and systems which could be implemented across the organisation.

Advocacy West Wales chief officer Natasha Fox said: “We pride ourselves on having a supportive and open workplace culture. Our employees are regularly involved in emotionally challenging work which may take a toll on employee health.

“We can only make a difference to our clients if we are doing our part to support and champion our own advocates. The work RCS has done has helped make that a reality.

“RCS were outstanding with the delivery method; given how spread out across West Wales our team is, it has been significantly more impactful for sessions to be held virtually so all our staff can have the opportunity to take part and benefit.”

Under RCS’ plan, regular wellbeing webinars were delivered, while coping strategies and RCS’ Wellbeing Champion programme was administered to AWW members to ensure lasting changes could be recognised through the organisation.

Detailed personal welfare plans which provide the best method to reach out and support individuals during times of distress were also encouraged for all team members.

Delivery manager at RCS Mandy Bowler said: “A key factor behind any business’ success is its personnel, and poor wellbeing can impact employee attendance or performance at work.

“Building a system where improving wellbeing is a core focus at the workplace can make a great impact in reducing these absences.

“Advocacy West Wales is a perfect example of how our In Work Support service can work alongside traditional systems to help businesses reach their full potential and ensure productivity can remain strong even during times of distress such as the pandemic.”