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College goes for gold in healthy workplace award scheme

THE College Ystrad Mynach has struck gold in its bid to be a healthy place to work.

The college has earned a gold award in the Welsh Government’s Corporate Health Standard scheme, a national mark of quality for health and well-being in the workplace.

The award recognises the college’s commitment to providing its staff with a healthier place to work at all its centres across Caerphilly County.

The scheme encourages organisations to bring in and develop policies and practices which will benefit their workforce physically, mentally and emotionally.

The College Ystrad Mynach won the scheme’s bronze award last year and then went straight for the gold this year.

To win gold, the college has increased and improved its healthy schemes in and around its many campuses.

But as Anthony Matthews, the college’s human resources project manager, explained, the biggest change has been the extra input from college staff.

He said: “The main thing we have done in going for the gold award is to get more people involved and to try to embed health and well-being into the culture of the organisation.

“More staff are now coming up with ideas and doing things themselves rather than the schemes being led by the management.”

Anthony said staff from throughout the college were now coming forward with ideas to develop health and well-being.

“Staff have set up their own Zumba classes and others have formed a choir,” he said.

A cycle to work scheme has been introduced as well as a chance for staff to buy bicycles at discounted rates.

And more formal health screening is being brought in which will look at blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring for staff.

Anthony, who chairs a steering committee to manage the college’s Corporate Health Standard work, added: “We are trying to encourage a culture of health and well-being.  We are getting ideas from all over the college - business support staff, lecturers and managers have all got different viewpoints and we get different views on what to do.”

For the bronze award, the college introduced a number of healthy food options in the refectory and has since been working hard to offer even more choice on the menu.

Anthony said: “We have improved a lot in what we are doing on the catering side with much more healthy eating, by asking staff and students what they want.”

He added: “We are really pleased to have been awarded the gold standard. Liz James, the chairman of governors, was very supportive of the initiative and was extremely pleased that we have achieved it.”

College Principal Bryn Davies said: “I am delighted that the college has been awarded the gold Corporate Health Standard.  It is wonderful to see the enthusiastic way staff from all over the college have got on board and had real input into the scheme.

“Having a healthy and happy workforce is vital for The College Ystrad Mynach as it will be a huge benefit to both staff and students alike.”

The next level in the scheme is the platinum award which looks at corporate responsibility and sustainable development and is something the college will consider working towards in the coming months.

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