In this round up of HappyNews for the year past, we’ve collated some of the most uplifting stories from throughout 2020, including mental health support in the workplace, destigmatising women’s issues, and the spotlight of inclusivity across all industries. We hope that in sharing these silver linings and positive outcomes from the devastation of 2020, we can help you reflect on some of the more optimistic aspects of the past 12 months.
NHS Volunteer Army
When the government asked for people to volunteer to support the NHS, stating that they needed 250,000 people to help those most at risk from Covid-19, they didn’t quite expect the staggering number of kind-hearted people who answered the call to arms. Within 24 hours of its launch, more than 405,000 Brits had signed up to help support the health service over the next few weeks.
Santander offers employees extensive wellbeing support for Covid-19 related concerns
Banking group Santander UK has made a pledge to the wellbeing of their 23,500 employees, offering support across four key areas: physical, mental, social and financial.
Santander UK has set up a variety of initiatives to help people cope with Covid-19-related anxiety. Damien Shieber, head of culture and inclusion at Santander UK, explains:
“Aside from the recently added in-app (Thrive, Santander’s mental wellbeing app) coaching, offering access to trained psychologists who will reply within 30 seconds to provide support, we’ve also introduced a series of wellbeing webinars on a range of topics including remote working and coping with possible anxiety during unsettling times.” Often overlooked in the realm of wellbeing, Santander also offers personalised financial guidance for employees and provides access to financial wellbeing services, partnering with financial wellbeing consultancy Nudge to help with financial planning. Santander UK has also introduced a personalised menopause support programme for employees.
The support service, provided by medical platform Peppy, focuses on female health, mental wellbeing and family support, providing confidential access to one-to-one support from an expert nurse or mental health practitioner, as well as online group exercises and phone or video consultations to learn more about menopause.
Headspace offers free subscription to anyone unemployed or furloughed in UK
In just two months, the number of employees on the UK payroll fell by more than 600,000 and approximately 9.1 million people were enrolled in the furlough scheme. Understanding how devastating unemployment can be, and the stress, anxiety, and health concerns that it can lead to, mind meditation app Headspace announced it was offering free subscriptions to all unemployed and furloughed workers in the UK for a year. Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, said: “Obviously, mindfulness cannot change the circumstances of the pandemic, but it can help to provide essential tools for managing stress at this difficult time."
Indian company tackles taboo by introducing paid leave for periods
We’re thrilled to see companies addressing and destigmatising conversations around menstruation. For decades, periods have been a barrier to women’s equality. The monthly cycle can cause a variety of painful symptoms that continue for the majority of females working lives, affecting their health, productivity and wellness. The food-delivery firm, Zomato, have announced that they are providing 10 days per year of paid leave for employees unwell due to menstruation. We are inspired by this refreshing corporate policy and look forward to seeing more employers follow.
Britain is labeled a ‘green energy pioneer’, setting a new record for coal-free power
On 16th June 2020, the UK came to the end of a 67-day, 22-hour, 55-minute coal-free streak. This period saw the country go for over two months without using any coal-fired power for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. This has been driven by record solar generation and lower than usual electricity demand due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Black in Fashion Council Signs 70 Brands to Its Pledge to Make the Fashion Industry More Inclusive
The Black in Fashion Council (BIFC), a group calling for an end to racial inequality in the fashion industry, has signed up 70 companies to pledge to raise the percentage of black employees in their executive and junior positions. The organisation, which was founded in June in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and subsequent global Black Lives Matter protests, has already doubled the number of brands on board since August, now including Ralph Lauren, Tori Burch, Capri Holdings, IMG, and Hearst Magazines.
Signees have committed to work with the BIFC for the next three years, pledging to take positive action in the push for inclusivity within human resources, talent inclusion, support, and corporate spend. Founder and Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner said “The process has been long, but we are determined to see actual change and progress in the industry...Creating a new industry-wide standard as far as inclusivity has never been done before, but it’s needed now more than ever.”