News – 17 January 2022 We’re proud to be working together with another local housing association to provide mental health support for colleagues. Grand Union and Hemel Hempstead-based Thrive Homes have teamed up so that colleagues from both organisations can benefit from the support of trained mental health champions. The partnership, which comes after Grand Union successfully launched its Mental Health Champions programme in July 2020, has been set up so that colleagues have the option to talk to someone from outside of the organisation if they’d prefer. Aileen Evans, Group Chief Executive at Grand Union, said: “We know many have struggled due to the pandemic, but also know how housing professionals often work in stressful conditions, many with customers who are in crisis. That’s why it’s so important that colleagues know that we are here to support them if needed.” Aileen created the #Shinealight campaign during her tenure as President of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) between 2020-21, which focused on the importance talking about mental health and helping housing organisations raise their game on the subject. She continued: “Our aim is to create an environment where everyone feels safe, secure and valued. We hope that this partnership with Thrive will be another step in creating a positive culture around mental health.” MIND, the mental health charity, reported that one in four people experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England and that one in six report experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week. Elspeth Mackenzie, Chief Executive at Thrive Homes, said: “At Thrive we believe that promoting and supporting a positive mental wellbeing culture is just as important as any other aspect of wellbeing. “Our team of Mental Health First Aiders was established in 2019 to offer an ear and advice to anyone who needs it. By teaming up with Grand Union Housing Group we can further support our colleagues by making sure there is always a trained mental health first aider available to talk in confidence with.” So far Grand Union’s Mental Health Champions have already supported 25 colleagues and it’s hoped that this new partnership will help both organisations to support more colleagues while raising mental health awareness, dispelling myths and normalising the subject.