Hollie Gazzard Trust and MSSS talk on personal safety

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This is an event from the Wellness Working Group

Wednesday 14 July 14
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Nick Gazzard from the Hollie Gazzard Trust talking to the group about Hollie’s story and the work of the Trust. He will be joined by Neil Cahalin from Member Security Services at the House to speak about available personal security measures available through Parliament.

About the Hollie Gazzard Trust:

Hollie Gazzard was murdered by her former partner following domestic abuse and stalking at the age of 20. Hollie’s dad, Nick is determined to raise awareness and help educate other of these issues and what this can lead to using Hollie’s tragedy as a way of getting the message across. He will explain in detail what happened to Hollie, how he turned this awful tragedy into something positive with the creation of the Hollie Gazzard Trust as Hollie’s legacy. A key aim of the Trust is prevention and he will speak about Hollie Guard a personal safety app that has now been downloaded over 50,000 times, along with the development of Hollie Guard Extra. He will finish with a Q&A session and will answer any question about what happened to Hollie, how this has affected him as a father and the family, along with the topics of domestic abuse and stalking.

RSVP to mpsstaff-wwg@parliament.uk

The Well Gardened Mind

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This is an event from the Wellness Working Group

Thursday 8 July 2021

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Author of the Sunday Times Bestseller, The Well Gardened Mind, Sue Stuart-Smith will join us to talk about the benefits of nature for wellbeing.

“In a powerful combination of contemporary neuroscience, psychoanalysis and brilliant storytelling, The Well Gardened Mind investigates the magic that many gardeners have known for years – working with nature can radically transform our health, wellbeing and confidence.”

https://www.suestuartsmith.com/book

RSVP: mpsstaff-wwg@parliament.uk

Cultivating the inner capacities of the mind and heart – Director of the Mindfulness Initiative

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This is an event from the Wellness Working Group.

Tuesday 29 June 2021

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Jamie Bristow is Director of The Mindfulness Initiative, a policy institute about mindfulness and compassion training that grew out of a programme of mindfulness teaching for politicians in the British Parliament. The Mindfulness Initiative provides the secretariat to the UK Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group and helped politicians to publish the seminal Mindful Nation UK policy report. Jamie now works with politicians around the world to help them make capacities of mind and heart serious considerations of public policy and has supported the introduction of mindfulness training in over 10 national parliaments. He was formerly Business Development Director for Headspace.

RSVP to mpsstaff-wwg@parliament.uk

Reminder – today! Creating a safe workplace for Members’ staff – guidance on bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct

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All MP Staff Q&A Session – Creating a safe workplace for Members’ staff – guidance on bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct

10:00 – 10:45 – Thursday 10 June 2021

Open to all of the staff of MPs.  For further information and booking, please see https://parliament.learningpool.com/mod/facetoface/view.php?id=4492

 

New mental health training courses from Learning & Development

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Please note that, when trying to access these courses, if you receive automated messages such as “you don’t have Moodle” or “it is not for learners”, please contact the Digital team to sort it out as it is a technical error, thank you.

Distressed Callers (1 day)

https://parliament.learningpool.com/mod/facetoface/view.php?id=3965

Course overview

  • Core skills when supporting emotional service-users.
  • Understanding the use of empathy when communicating on the telephone.
  • Recognising the impact of our approaches when supporting challenging (distressed) callers.
  • Responding to challenging callers and those with differing needs.
  • Looking after ourselves after the call

Approach

The training will experiential to enable attendees to practice skills and build confidence through role play scenarios and the opportunity for supportive feedback and encouragement.

 

Vicarious Trauma (short Webinar sessions)

https://parliament.learningpool.com/mod/facetoface/view.php?id=3968

This is a short introductory webinar on vicarious trauma.

Vicarious trauma is a term for the emotional changes a person can experience when helping people who have traumatic stories to tell.

The session is an initial opportunity to define vicarious trauma and look at why we are at risk, how to identify the signs and how we can minimise the risk in our response.

Vicarious Trauma (1 day)

https://parliament.learningpool.com/mod/facetoface/view.php?id=3969

Regularly hearing about or responding to traumatic events can take its toll on those people who work in helping professions and supportive jobs.

Vicarious trauma is a term for the emotional changes a person can experience when helping people who have traumatic stories to tell.

It may be that you have taken a call, read something or seen images and they stick in your head and you keep thinking about it. Or you often find yourself reflecting, outside of your work, on the upsetting and emotional things that you’ve heard from people contacting your service.

This insightful and practical course provides a more in-depth opportunity to focus on your self care and well being in relation to vicarious trauma.  It will explore how to address and effectively manage vicarious trauma to keep a healthy workplace.

Creating a safe workplace for Members’ staff – guidance on bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct

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All MP Staff Q&A Session – Creating a safe workplace for Members’ staff – guidance on bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct

10:00 – 10:45 – Thursday 10 June 2021

Open to all of the staff of MPs.  For further information and booking, please see https://parliament.learningpool.com/mod/facetoface/view.php?id=4492

 

Virtual Events for Mental Health Awareness Week – 10th – 14th May

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Image shows a poster listing the various events taking place on Mental Health Awareness Week

Please join us for a series of fascinating events to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

We are also launching the WWG’s very own SharePoint site which includes information on:

  • Spending the IPSA wellbeing funds
  • Group supervision – what is it and how might it help staff?
  • Employee Assistance Programme
  • Courses run by the House on mental health
  • Templates and exercises for you and your team to use to promote wellbeing.

Please email mpsstaff-wwg@parliament.uk in order to receive the links to each meeting.

Monday 10th May
3pm – 4pm –
Ceri Finnegan, Mind
‘Coping in Tough Times’
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Tuesday 11th May
11am – 12pm
Hein Ten Cate, NHS Consultant Clinical Psychologist on Trauma
‘Understanding trauma, types of trauma, supporting others and looking after oneself.’
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Wednesday 12th May
3pm – 4pm
MP’s Staff Wellness Working Group
‘Join us to see our new Sharepoint site’
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Thursday 13th May
3pm – 4pm
Dr Robbie Anderson, Managing Director, Chimp Paradox
‘Optimising the performance of the human mind’
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Friday 14th May
11am – 12pm
Rachel Edwards, Life and Career Coach
‘Who are you and where are you going?’

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Take care

Chloe, Steph, Estelle & Tom
Wellness Working Group

All MP staff virtual Q&A session – Dealing with distressed and suicidal callers

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As you may be aware, the Members’ Services Team runs a monthly phone-in Q&A session for MPs’ staff. The next one is taking place on Wednesday 16 December, 3-4pm and the theme of this session will be dealing with distressed and suicidal callers.

For further information and a link to join the meeting, please see this page on the intranet:

https://intranet.parliament.uk/business-news/news-current-issues/news/2020/december/all-mp-staff-virtual-qa-session–dealing-with-distressed-and-suicidal-callers/

Wellness Working Group

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The Wellness Working Group is a cross party group of MPs’ staff with the aim of placing a focus on staff welfare and improving support for MPs’ staff well-being. Support mechanisms have tended to focus almost exclusively on Members and House Staff, with MPs’ staff needs often being forgotten or left in the background. The uniqueness of working for an MP cannot be overstated. The Wellness Working Group is firmly of the belief that more needs to be done to recognise the often complex and challenging role of MPs’ staff and the unparalleled challenges they face. Many staff have already shared their experiences and we are keen to hear from as many MPs’ staff as possible, regardless of party colours since the challenges we face are some that only MPs’ staff will be fully able to relate to.

MPs’ staff are increasingly under pressure with intense workloads and are often dealing with very distressed and vulnerable constituents who bring issues that are harrowing and emotionally demanding. The cumulative effect of this type and volume of work can have impacts on our own mental health. This makes it crucial that we have measures in place to cope and be able to look after ourselves. It is only by looking after ourselves that we will be able to continue perform well and to help others. Staff are often overstretched, which in a crisis gets worse. Also, staff are often left with lots of distressing details and nowhere ‘to put’ them. This is not exclusive to caseworkers. Administrators are often the first point of contact in the office by answering the phone or filtering the inbox and researchers and parliamentary assistants can be involved in very harrowing topics for debates. Office managers are often in a difficult place between the Member and the staff team and many find themselves picking up any additional workload the team faces. In addition, they often feel responsible for their team’s well-being, which can be especially difficult given the harrowing nature of the work, whilst perhaps not having the same outlet or well-being support that they are providing to their teams. The Wellness Working Group believes more adequate support needs to be put in place for MPs’ staff well-being. Furthermore, training on mental health ought to be offered so that a greater focus is placed on self-care, allowing staff to be better equipped to cope with demanding and important work.

The increase in the number of campaigns and heated nature of politics means it is common for MPs’ staff to be put in the position of answering aggressive correspondence, directed to their Member as a public figure, and feeling the force of people’s anger. This extends to threats and abuse made to staff who have not signed up to be publicly accountable. So often staff are isolated, whether in small offices in Westminster or in constituency offices all around the country. Now with Covid-19 and home working, we are conscious that staff might feel even more disconnected and overwhelmed with the work they are facing. We understand many staff relied on their workplace for social interaction and support, which has been somewhat lost in many cases, also meaning boundaries between home and work are blurred.

We were pleased that IPSA added £4000 to the MPs’ staffing budget for well-being and training recently. We see this as a starting point in staff welfare being recognised as a concept and see that we have much further to go if staff welfare is to be properly considered. The Wellness Working Group has several aims, which include: developing a well-being policy, establishing peer support networks that could provide a space to share experiences, knowledge and expertise whilst creating more of a sense of community, the provision of better mental health training and having a ring-fenced budget from IPSA so that well-being costs do not have to come from already stretched budgets, to name a few.

We would encourage you to join our Group because it is by supporting one another that we can make a difference. What we have in common as staff is unique. Working for an MP is a job that is often hard to describe to those who have not experienced it. Members of the Group come from all parts of the UK and from all political parties. We understand that the challenges may differ but all are equally valid when people are struggling. So far we have held meetings in Scotland and in London, but we are now holding these meetings virtually. We are trying to avoid the focus being on people reaching crisis point and more on creating something that helps people to avoid that point, or recover quickly if they do.

The Wellness Working Group can be found on the intranet here: https://intranet.parliament.uk/people-offices/offices-departments/commons-departments/hr-finance/members-staff-wellness-working-group/

and through the sharepoint site here: https://hopuk.sharepoint.com/sites/hct-wellbeinghub  You should also have a direct link to the Wellbeing Hub via an icon on your desktop.

If you would like to be involved or have any questions, then please feel free to get in touch: mpsstaff-wwg@parliament.uk