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Derbyshire firm Lubrizol extends its mental health first aider network after they help colleagues get through lockdown

Derbyshire firm Lubrizol extends its mental health first aider network after they help colleagues get through lockdown

A Derbyshire company’s network of mental health first aiders is set to be extended across the country after it proved crucial in supporting colleagues over the course of the pandemic.


Lubrizol UK, which is based in Hazelwood, near Belper, is now looking to recruit more of the representatives at its other UK sites in Barnsley, Huddersfield, Manchester and North Wales following the appointment of the Mental Health First Aid Team last year.

The first aiders, 18 of whom work across the spectrum of roles at Hazelwood, are all employees and have been trained to act as a point of contact for colleagues who are struggling with mental health issues so that they can help them seek the support they need.

They were all appointed in February last year with the expectation that they would talk to their colleagues face-to-face, until the coronavirus lockdown was imposed and many of the staff on site were sent home to work.

Since then, they have come into their own by setting up regular virtual wellbeing meetings, complete with quizzes and mindfulness sessions, while also working one-to-one with colleagues who have reported feelings of stress, loneliness, isolation and health concerns surrounding COVID-19.

Along the way they ended up talking to colleagues working at the other sites, which has prompted the company, which has 387 staff at Hazelwood and a further 140 elsewhere in the UK, to recruit more mental health first aiders as Lubrizol starts to make preparations to bring staff back onto site as the threat of the coronavirus starts to recede.

Jodie Varney, funding partnership advisor, who is part of the Mental Health First Aid Team, said:

“Lubrizol is an inclusive company and its mental health first aiders were already being recruited as part of its commitment to the health and wellbeing of its workforce long before the lockdown came in.

“Now, looking back, the timing has been extremely fortunate because there is no doubt that working from home has raised very many challenges to people’s mental health, which has meant that our volunteers have come into their own.

“All of us who have worked from home for a long time recognise that, while offering a host of advantages, it can lead to issues relating to being on your own for long periods without the support and friendship that you get from having your co-workers around you.”

Another of Lubrizol’s mental health first aiders at Hazelwood, Kelly Parker, administrator in mechanical testing, added:

“Even as a mental health first aider, I have benefitted from this scheme because at one point I was struggling with the isolation of home working.

“First aiders are there to enable people to open up and then refer them to resources that can help them and talking to my colleague was hugely beneficial because it allowed me to share what I was feeling and get things off my chest.

“Lockdown has meant that  there is more awareness of mental health and it’s wonderful to know that by extending our network we will be helping people like me who needed someone to reach out to them when they are struggling.”

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