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New wellbeing initiative launched for nighttime economy workers in West Midlands

Published:  15 May, 2024

In response to the growing crisis of stress-related absences in the UK workforce, The Drinks Trust and The West Midlands Combined Authority have unveiled a pilot wellbeing programme tailored for Nighttime Economy Workers. Developed by The Drinks Trust, the initiative aims to address the pressing issue of mental health and wellbeing among employees.

Recent findings from the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) highlight the severity of the absenteeism crisis, with stress cited as the cause of short-term absences in 76% of cases and poor mental health responsible for 63% of long-term absences.

Open to all businesses within the nighttime economy sector, including bars, nightclubs and restaurants, the programme consists of two key components: Wellbeing Champion courses and access to an exclusive wellbeing platform. 

The Wellbeing Champion course, accredited by Continued Professional Development (CPD), equips participants with the necessary tools and knowledge to support colleagues and implement effective wellbeing strategies in the workplace. 

The pilot phase of the initiative has trained nearly 60 Wellbeing Champions in the West Midlands Combined Authority region. In addition to the training, businesses will have access to a tailor-made platform offering resources, webinars and a wellbeing calendar, focusing on physical, mental, social and financial health.

Ross Carter, CEO of The Drinks Trust, said: “Our Business Assistance Programme recognises the correlation between the wellbeing of employees and the prosperity of organisations.

“The ultimate aim of this partnership is to fortify and safeguard the wellbeing of workers within the night-time economy sector, recognising their health and its pivotal role in sustaining a thriving business environment.”

In parallel, the UK government has announced plans to implement High Street Rental Auctions in September, granting local authorities the power to auction off vacant properties with the goal of revitalising high streets and stimulating new business investments. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the move is a positive step towards rejuvenating high streets and safeguarding the cultural significance of pubs.

“The government is right to identify hospitality as the bellwether of local economies. When hospitality thrives, the high street comes alive. When the sector faces challenges, like it does now, we see more and more empty plots available,” Nicholls said.

“The proposals to allow vacant properties to be brought into use via auction will create opportunities for hospitality businesses to move into high streets, generating local investment and creating places where people want to live.

“I’m pleased that protections for pub sites have been addressed and this will help protect the cultural and historic role pubs play in our society,” she added.

However, Nicholls also highlighted persisting challenges within the hospitality sector, noting stubborn labour market conditions. Despite a 9.5% increase in wages in March 2024, hospitality vacancies remain 15% above pre-pandemic levels, indicative of broader structural issues. Nicholls stressed the need for the sector to be unshackled in other areas to facilitate investment and drive economic growth.

“Rebalancing and reducing the sector’s cost burden must be a priority because we’re continuing to see money earmarked for business investment diverted into simply paying the bills,” she said.