RL Cares and CityFibre: normalising attitudes to mental health

RL Cares and CityFibre: normalising attitudes to mental health

Rugby League Cares is proud to have provided staff at independent broadband network providers CityFibre with support and guidance on mental fitness issues as part of the company’s engaging approach to World Mental Health Day.

CityFibre have a stated aim of normalising discussions about mental health within the company and invited RL Cares to deliver the charity’s award-winning Offload programme to colleagues, both virtually and in-person.

RL Cares has a proven track record in successful delivery of mental fitness workshops to the business world, including the construction sector, and has worked with a huge range of companies over recent years, including the Environment Agency, energy giants SSE and Kier Construction.

Our brief from CityFibre was to support staff by raising the profile and awareness of mental health as part of the company’s overall Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Strategy which aims to foster diversity, ensure equal opportunities, and create an inclusive culture that drives business success, supports employee wellbeing, and positively impacts society at large.

CityFibre chose to work with RL Cares because the charity’s health and wellbeing values resonate with its own, particularly the views of its Chief Executive Greg Mesch.

We were asked to deliver sessions that were “personal and on a human level to avoid the pitfalls of having an external company who people can’t relate to.” CityFibre also asked that our presenters share personal stories of struggles and coping mechanisms, to try to make the content as real and relatable as possible.

To help build the relationship, CityFibre introduced the concept of home and away ‘fixtures’, building on the sporting theme. The fixtures were held two weeks apart, beginning with a visit to their training facility in Sheffield by RL Cares Community and Welfare Manager Keith Senior and Community and Welfare Officer Bob Beswick.

The visit allowed Keith and Bob to meet CityFibre staff and give them an understanding of what is involved in the running of the business, including the challenges their teams face.

The emphasis on the fixture was about being informative and hands-on and included participation activities such as street pole climbing and fibre splicing. CityFibre’s Build Partner OCU also contributed to the session with input from some of their own mental health first aiders.

Keith and Bob also delivered an Offload workshop to attendees at the Sheffield office, which enabled CityFibre managers to understand the material and messaging ahead of a company-wide broadcast held two weeks later.

To ensure inclusivity, the ‘away’ fixture was delivered by RL Cares Community and Welfare Officers Amy Hardcastle and Damian Gibson, who provided detailed biographies that helped break down any barriers which may have prevailed among attendees with little or no sporting knowledge.

As well as their experiences of tackling challenges as elite athletes, Amy and Damian were able to address the audience on a human level: Amy describes herself as being a mother, partner, welfare officer and trainee counsellor as well as being a professional rugby league player, while Damian describes himself as a father, personal trainer and role model.

CityFibre felt this was exactly the chord they wanted to strike in terms of making the content as relatable and accessible as possible. The company’s ambition was that by the end of the session every colleague understood the importance of good mental health; understood that it’s an everybody consideration, not just for elite athletes; had an awareness of personal coping mechanisms; and were aware that there is a range of specialist mental health support material available to all CityFibre employees.

CityFibre Head of Programme Delivery Alex Cain said: “As the CityFibre champion for this event, I believe a huge amount of its success is down to the candidness and vulnerability that Amy and Damian were prepared to show, talking about the challenges that they have faced with their own mental health.

“This in turn encouraged openness and candidness in others, creating a domino effect for discussion.”

If you would like your colleagues to experience the full benefits of our fantastic Offload mental fitness programme, or require more information, please contact our Partnership Manager Nav Uppal