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When it comes to encouraging healthy lifestyles among its staff the Education Training Collective (Etc.) has proven gold standard.

From keeping hydration levels up to counting steps, the college group makes promoting healthier habits a priority.

Now the group’s efforts, co-ordinated and driven by the human resources team, have been recognised with receipt of the prestigious Better Health at Work Gold Award.

“It’s a fantastic achievement, particularly at a time when we have all faced such significant changes in both our working and home lives,” said the Group Director of Human Resources, Kay Taylor.

As employers, she said: “Focusing on people’s health and wellbeing has been more important than ever.”

However, their commitment to promote healthier habits among the team came long before any mention of the pandemic.

“We started working towards the gold award as part of our Great Place to Work Strategy,” said Kay. “At that point we couldn’t have predicted we would end up in a global pandemic.”

The group, which incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form, NETA Training, The Skills Academy and Tees Valley Catering, introduced a host of simple measures to boost people’s everyday health and wellbeing.

Activities have included walking challenges, yoga and meditation workshops, expert talks about healthy eating, dementia and cancer awareness, book swaps and sharing recipes.

With the bronze and then silver awards under their belts, Kay said: “We have had to find new ways to reach people and adapt our activities during lockdown.”

Staff were given access to a host of online resources with hints and tips, the opportunity to tap into an employee assistance programme for those feeling in need of additional support as well as fun online workshops including virtual yoga.

The Better Health at Work Award recognises the efforts of employers in the North East and Cumbria addressing health issues within the workplace.

Kay said: “For us the health and wellbeing of people at work is an absolute priority. It is about raising awareness of small changes that can be made and finding ways in which these can be shared seamlessly with colleagues – which our health and wellbeing platform allows us to do.”

Of hitting the gold award standard, she added: “It is fabulous that our ongoing work has been recognised and we are now among the gold standard employers in the region.”

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