Boris Johnson backs London Health and Wellbeing Week

19 October 2015

London Mayor Boris Johnson says he is “delighted” that firms in the capital have joined forces for a health and wellbeing week which begins today (Monday 19 October).

Boris Johnson

The inaugural London Health and Wellbeing Week has been set up with the aim of helping workers across the capital become healthier and, as a result, improve business performance.

London-based organisations will provide information to staff, such as stress-busting tips and advice on how to get a better night’s sleep. Staff will also be encouraged to take part in charity sports days, have a medical assessment and attend a 30-minute health and wellbeing presentation.

Founder members of the initiative are: the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Thames Water, HS2, Battersea Power Station, Crossrail, Ferrovial Agroman, Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade, Skanska, Costain, Tideway and Transport for London.

Mr Johnson is supporting the initiative and will speak about it at a major event on Wednesday 21 October to celebrate the progress the capital is making towards the goal of becoming the world’s healthiest city.

He said: “I want London to be the healthiest city in the world and I am delighted to see big London employers coming together to spread the important message that healthier workplaces can also benefit the bottom line.

“It's exactly the kind of initiative we have been encouraging through my Healthy Workplace Charter. I urge more employers of all sizes and from all sectors to get involved and support the health and wellbeing of their staff.”

The initiative is the idea of London-based businesses which network together and realised that by investing in the health and wellbeing of staff they will be much more likely to prosper.

Of the 28.2 million working days lost each year in the UK, more than 80% is due to ill health as opposed to accidents.

By 2025 it is expected that 40% of adults will be obese, and the number of people living and working with chronic health conditions will rise steadily, affecting morale, competitiveness and profitability among businesses.

If the week proves successful, it could be repeated elsewhere in the UK.

The week is being based around four key themes (4Ws):

• Workers – understanding that workers may experience ill health which could impact on their ability to work and providing support to overcome this.
• Workplace – preventing workers from becoming ill through their work via a range of activities like removing hazards.
• Wellbeing – encouraging everyone to take responsibility for improving their own health and wellbeing, to benefit them both at work and at home through activities and information.
• Wider community – encouraging wellbeing in others for example initiatives which impact families and friends.

Among the activities that participating organisations can take part in will be inviting staff to down tools and attend a 30-minute presentation on looking after their health and wellbeing, which has been drawn up by the founder members.

Karl Simons, Head of Safety, Health and Wellbeing at Thames Water, and Chairman of the Major Employers Health Directors Group, who is also an IOSH member, said: “What’s happening here is truly amazing; we’ve each run numerous initiatives demonstrating our commitment to health over the years, but to see so many large organisations from different industry sectors coming together with a collective goal of pushing health and wellbeing across London is remarkable.” 

Karl, who is also an IOSH member, said: “Every month throughout this year the occupational health leads have dedicated their time to support each other in developing a campaign they and others can use.”

The London Health and Wellbeing Week has been planned to coincide with European Week for Safety and Health at Work, which will see activities held in businesses across the continent.

IOSH’s Head of Research and Information Services Jane White said: “Many factors such as stress, sleep, diet, exercise and hydration can have an impact on our overall wellbeing and, consequently, on the wellbeing of those around us.

“The health and wellbeing week has been designed to demonstrate that we can make positive lifestyle choices to help maintain our health and wellbeing and make us stronger, both mentally and emotionally.

“Good health management at work is as important as good safety management. In an increasingly competitive global economy, only the healthiest businesses will prosper. Companies that invest to support employees’ health and wellbeing will find they reap the rewards.”

Image: Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.