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Insights about Health

What I’ve learnt from living at home during a crisis

As a newly appointed Junior Account Executive, still finding my feet in communications, to suddenly be working from home during the lockdown has been a whirlwind experience. I never thought I would be working from home this much until much later in my career. After many weeks of trying to adjust to the “new normal” ... more

28 May 2020

Now’s the time for visibility

I’ve done a fair amount of training and consultancy around communicating in a crisis over the years, complacently believing that for many of the participants, it would remain a store of unneeded knowledge and approaches. Well, as far as crises go, it’s Christmas and for many organisations, pretty much everything they are putting out currently, ... more

20 May 2020
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There’s no ‘I’ in purpose

As I sit at my bespoke home-working space – or “kitchen table”, as it’s more commonly known – I’m chasing a client for late payment of an invoice, one that predates the current troubles we are all facing. This will be an all too familiar feeling to many working for an agency, particularly if you’re ... more

16 April 2020
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Communicating with kindness

COVID-19 – such an anodyne, anonymous collection of letters but one that has thrown the world off its axis and fundamentally changed millions of lives at a bewildering speed. It has also spawned an avalanche of communication from pretty much every organisation under the sun. If you are not currently self-isolating from this deluge you ... more

30 March 2020
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Tackling isolation through digital innovation

Last week brought to a close, a 10 month project which we have been working closely with our client Nesta Challenges and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on, to launch the Tech to Connect Challenge – an England-wide competition to scale tech-based solutions to reduce social isolation. Tech can be alienating or ... more

Where’s the action on International Women’s Day?

It’s International Women’s Day. Which means a lot of things are all happening at once. We’re celebrating the truly amazing achievements of women around the world. We’re also calling for equality of opportunity and recognition. Richard Herring is no doubt spending the day on Twitter reminding disgruntled users that, yes, there is an International Men’s ... more

What a difference a year makes

My 2019 calendar social impact story reflects on a year when we finally started to wake up to the threat of the climate emergency… January   We kicked off the year in our fabulous new offices. A quiet but important policy came into effect with the revised Corporate Governance Code strengthening director responsibilities for listed companies ... more

Three Weddings and a Dress

It started with someone borrowing trousers for fancy dress, then something for a wedding, a graduation and so on. We now swap Winter coats for whole seasons and lend each other entire holiday wardrobes. At Forster, our ever-increasing understanding of the environmental and human cost of fast fashion meant that many of us no longer ... more

Along for the ride

After having the luxury of living a ten-minute walk from Forster since we relocated to Whitechapel at the end of 2018, I found myself facing the dreaded London commute once again when I moved house in September this year. Aside from the fact I didn’t want to be crammed amongst commuters on the underground, I was ... more

17 December 2019
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Ideas plus people – the equation for better health

Big problems need radical ideas and action and they don’t come much bigger than improving health. In 2019, Forster has been helping clients promote radical ideas and inspire action off the back of them. The partnership we helped create between the Daily Mail and Helpforce inspired 33,000 people to volunteer with the NHS in 2019. ... more

17 December 2019
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Small and many is powerful

The cheerful gentleman on the right in this photo is Robin. He is a resident at Etheldred House, a care home in Histon, Cambridgeshire, where I live. Robin suffered a brain injury a few years back and now needs care support. He is unusual in that he is resident in the same care home as ... more

17 December 2019
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Reach out and connect

Back in 2013, the health secretary described loneliness among older people as “our national shame”. Fast forward to 2019 and more than nine million people in the UK say they “often or always” feel lonely. The loneliness epidemic isn’t new, and we are doing more to tackle it at a systemic level, but it often ... more

17 December 2019
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Eating for the future

Four years ago, I looked at what I could do to tackle climate change and came up with six areas for not only myself, but for anyone who would ask. 1.) How you vote 2.) What you eat 3.) How you travel 4.) How you waste/recycle 5.) What energy you use 6.) Where you spend ... more

17 December 2019
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When funders get active

Big problems abound and urgent action is required to tackle them. Perhaps it has always been that way, but something has changed and there is an exciting shift in how many social funders are ramping up their approach to positive change. It is marked by a decisive move towards being more active and taking a ... more

21 November 2019
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Where we are, where we want to be

Where we are, where we want to be Forster has been living and breathing sustainability issues for our entire existence and central to that is our commitment that we always walk the talk. Even before we became a founding UK B Corp, we were committed to being transparent about our impact – good and bad ... more

Improving access to free mental health training for SME’s

Our ambition is to help give people access to the products, information and services they need to support their health, and the confidence and ability they need to use it to live well. Which is why we are so proud to be involved in the development of a new e-learning tool for SME’s. Small and ... more

16 April 2019
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Turning sustainability cynics into storytellers

Your business purpose is clear and you have a strong social change ambition – but now it needs to become a reality.  How can you find the tipping point where ownership shifts from a few individuals to a company-wide culture that is hardwired into decision making and behaviours? Typically, employees will be segmented according to ... more

Forster Communications partners with Cello Health Communications to deliver new sustainability offering to the Pharma industry

Cello Health Communications and Forster Communications say the combined strength of their specialist experience in understanding the pharmaceutical industry and sustainability communications will unlock existing potential and help bring sustainability to life Today Forster Communications and Cello Health Communications announce their joint endeavour ‘Sustainable Pharma Futures’ – a new service developed specifically for the pharmaceutical ... more

19 February 2019

The Wates Principles and the $1.8 billion opportunity for pharma

In December, the Wates Principles were published as new guidance for large private companies, reiterating the need for them to behave in a way that benefits society as well as the economy, building trust and confidence among all stakeholders. It is an important moment, recognizing the impact of the private business sector, and sits alongside the revised ... more

7 February 2019
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Every employee an ambassador

We are delighted to have been recognised as one of Britain’s Healthiest Workplaces for three years running – coming in with a silver medal at today’s awards among some of the UK’s most pioneering organisations. It would be easy for me as CEO to take the credit, but I know that the consistency of our ... more

16 January 2019

Transforming NHS volunteering

We launched Helpforce to the public via an exclusive, in depth interview with David Brindle in the Guardian on 6 December 2017. On 1 December 2018, the Daily Mail filled eight pages to encourage people to pledge time to support the NHS, yielding an incredible response from people of all ages across the country – ... more

12 December 2018
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Person centred social care – is it too much to ask?

You could hear a pin drop as the all too familiar stories were told. One from a council worker who is trying to provide assistance to an elderly couple in their home. His physical condition is deteriorating, but the only person whom his wife – managing some mental health issues of her own – trusts ... more

16 November 2018
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Ready to eat: How far should a brand go to accommodate?

The last few weeks have seen the tragic story of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse spun out across the media, naming and shaming Pret for not doing enough to protect people with allergies. So, how far should businesses go to accommodate allergy sufferers and where does personal responsibility fit in? Accommodating is such an innocuous word, but for ... more

6 November 2018

Adapting communications to changing lives

Earlier this month saw the publication of the government’s loneliness strategy and there is much to applaud in it. Firstly, it is great to even have a strategy for such a critical public health issue, and secondly, it is fantastic to see businesses such as Royal Mail playing an active role in tackling it. It’s ... more

26 October 2018
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Mental health – from awareness to action

Awareness and understanding of mental health has dramatically increased in the last 20 years, thanks in part to pioneering campaigns like MindOut for Mental Health that we helped to create. Yet, one in four people in the UK still experience mental health problems each year[1] and it cost 300,000 people their jobs[2]. Within the UK, ... more

9 October 2018
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Employers need to prioritise flexibility

We have produced a diverse range of toolkits for employers recently, on behalf of Public Health England and Business in the Community, the most recent being one on domestic abuse which launched this summer. The issues we’ve covered are very different, but there is a common thread that runs through them all – the importance ... more

21 September 2018
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We need safe spaces to challenge the status quo

Every year the UN celebrates International Youth Day, and this year the theme is Safe Spaces. A ‘safe space’ is not a tangible or physical location, more a descriptor of a culture in which people can share their experiences without judgement, in an environment where they can exist free from violence, harassment, or hate speech. ... more

Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals is everyone’s business but how do you convince everyone else of that?

This week Measuring Up, the first comprehensive assessment of the UK’s performance against the SDGs, was released. It makes for tough reading. The UK is performing well on only a quarter of all the goals, and the profound problems of poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. This matters for every business in the UK ... more

You are not alone

How do you solve really big problems? The answer never changes but always bares repeating – by working together. There is of course something very romantic about a lone visionary labouring away in a lab / garage / garden shed to conjure up game-changing inventions, innovations and insights, but the reality is far more likely ... more

Sustainable transport at Forster

Here at Forster we’re big advocates of sustainable transport. So much so that we encourage and support all of our staff to either cycle or walk to work. Included in our employee benefits programme are the following: Peddle points: 5 minutes additional holiday for every return journey walked or cycled to work Free company loan ... more

6 June 2018
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Turning policy into living, breathing practice

Being a PR professional can be hard. No one really understands what we do; and those that have some idea often don’t like the sound of it. We tend to have clients on one side and journalists on the other. We’re a service industry with deadlines and jobs that don’t always fit into the 9-5 ... more

31 January 2018
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Think Global, Act Local

PR agencies spend a lot of time talking about living their values, for themselves and their clients. It is an important thing to do in an industry that gets shaken by scandals like Bell Pottinger every few years, where companies have forgotten that this mantra needs to be practised and not just preached. It was ... more

Improving health

We have been named ‘Britain’s Healthiest Workplace’ for the past two years by Vitality Health and ‘Best for the World’ for in the staff, overall and long term categories by the B Corps movement, but we wanted to dig into more detail, to understand where we’re doing best and where we could do even better. ... more

25 January 2018
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Society and the environment – our impact

No matter how innovative and progressive we are on improving health through our clients and employees, we also do our best to reduce our environmental footprint and have a positive impact on our community. Here are some of the things we have done: Staff volunteering: all our staff volunteered for a day for FoodCycle, creating ... more

25 January 2018
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Our people – our impact

The health and wellbeing of our people has always been incredibly important to us. It is great for staff and it is good for business. We have created a comprehensive wellbeing programme over the past two years and produced some impressive results: Sessions with nutritionists and mindfulness experts. Regular lunchtime running and walking clubs. Exercise ... more

25 January 2018

Living Well

Encourage people to live well and we can reduce the incidence of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, and so ease the strain on our health systems and help people live healthier, happier lives. This is no better illustrated than with the case of diabetes – a largely preventable life-changing condition that ... more

25 January 2018

Shining a light

Since Forster’s inception, we’ve been proud to shine a light on issues that are considered taboo or ignored by others. Back in 2003, we launched the first ever integrated mental health campaign – MindOut – at a time when mental health was still very much a taboo topic. Back then, we helped raised awareness, smashed ... more

25 January 2018
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Health – Looking ahead

Giving people access to the products, information and services they need to support their health, and the confidence and ability they need to use it to live well. That’s a big goal, so we have broken it down into a series of commitments and targets covering each of our spheres of impact ... more

25 January 2018
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Making flexible working work for you

Encouraging flexible and remote working can enable organisations to become more agile and better respond to the needs of their people. But how do we introduce flexibility and manage our culture effectively to avoid the ‘always switched on’ syndrome, while increasing outcomes? We spoke at the CIPD annual conference earlier this month about how you can ... more

23 November 2017
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Living with Lupus

16 months after my diagnosis, I am still coming to terms with what it means to live with Lupus. Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease where the body’s white blood cells attack the healthy tissues, resulting in inflammation to the joints, skin and internal organs. It is a life-long condition, there is no ... more

8 November 2017

Restoring dignity and hope – Kenya’s fight against fistula

When you work in social change communications, you can sometimes feel a long way from the actual social change. Recently Laura Hedges, a senior consultant at Forster Communications, got the chance to experience first-hand the impact of the campaign she helped to develop and implement for Astellas Pharma Europe, a campaign that is tackling one ... more

8 November 2017

Bringing diversity and inclusion into the heart of a business

Diversity and inclusion is increasingly recognised as being vital to business success because the benefits of inclusion and diversity are clear. A range of backgrounds, faiths, genders and ethnicities bring new ideas, innovation and practices that can vastly improve operations. There are countless reports and studies which show the impact increasing diversity can have on ... more

28 September 2017
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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Nudging has been fashionable for a few years as the key to creating behaviour change around all sorts of public health issues like smoking, exercise and healthy eating. But nudging can be exhausting because you have to keep doing it. Sustainable behaviour change needs more than the nudge, it needs initiatives that crack the hardest ... more

28 September 2017
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Forster wins Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, for the second year running

Over 167 organisations and 31,950 individuals from across the UK took place in this year’s survey developed by VitalityHealth, which is now in its fifth year. Looking at nine different risk factors for employees including nutrition, physical activity, mental wellbeing, smoking, alcohol and sleep as well as workplace interventions, facilities and services it crucially gathers ... more

13 September 2017

When the Drugs Don’t Work

As someone who has enjoyed summer music festivals for almost ten years, being around people using something other than alcohol to keep them partying is par for the course. About one in 20 people age 16 to 24 have taken ecstasy – a common festival drug – in the last 12 months, ONS figures suggest. ... more

24 August 2017

Communication needs to be free from assumptions and biases

The Social Market Foundation estimates that raising disability employment to the national average would boost the UK economy by at least £13 billion. On average, disabled employees are just as productive as non-disabled people, have significantly less time off, fewer workplace accidents, and stay in their jobs longer. They have inside intelligence on the “purple ... more

24 August 2017
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Transforming Lives in Kenya

We’re delighted that, last week, our groundbreaking campaign with Astellas Pharma Europe, Action on Fistula, won Excellence in CSR at the 2017 Communiqué Awards. Launched in 2014, the Fistula Foundation’s set out to transform the lives of women in Kenya living with fistula: an injury caused by prolonged obstructed labor. Supported by a grant from ... more

12 July 2017
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Responding to terrorism – head versus heart

Our office was closed early last week as it was inside the police cordon surrounding Borough Market following the London Bridge terrorist attack. It was a real jolt to see such a familiar place sealed off with police tape, to see the rubbish dropped in panic on the Saturday night still lying in the gutter. ... more

15 June 2017
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Progress never sleeps

Progress isn’t easy. A lot of the time it feels like you are swimming in treacle, thrashing about and making little headway. Even worse, it can feel like one step forward and two steps back. That is why it is important to take the time to reflect on and celebrate when real tangible progress is ... more

Managing mental health at work

Mental health is in the news more than ever;  whether it’s the royals launching the “Heads Together” campaign, the positioning of mental health in the major party manifestos in the run up to this year’s general election, or that mental health related sickness absence is overtaking muscular-skeletal conditions in non-manual employment, it’s clear that there ... more

The battle between head and heart

Working in social change PR inevitably means working with emotionally-charged topics more often than not. It’s rare to have a week at work that’s simple “business-as-usual” given that you might be developing an awareness campaign on FGM one week and promoting fundraising for children’s mental health support the next. Our brand of PR isn’t champagne ... more

11 May 2017

Promoting the work of the Infection Prevention Society

We’ve been selected by the Infection Prevention Society to help position the organisation as the UK’s leading authority on infection prevention and control. We are supporting the organisation– which represents around 2,000 healthcare professionals working in infection prevention and control – with media engagement to highlight its value to patients, healthcare providers and wider society….. ... more

5 April 2017

Britain’s Healthiest Workplace – webcast

After being named Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, an award developed by VitalityHealth and delivered in partnership with the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer, we recently joined GlaxoSmithKline and Phoenix Group to share our experience of taking part in the study. From innovative cycling policies to training our line managers on mental health, we know ... more

6 March 2017

Aviva: The business case for supporting staff with caring responsibilities

Employers for Carers estimates that one in nine workers are carers and one in six of these will leave the workforce due to their caring responsibilities. For Aviva UK that’s 1,700 carers, of which 300 are in danger of leaving. In the current economic climate it is an important time to retain skilled workers rather ... more

9 February 2017
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Businesses unite in a bid to make the UK economy ‘fit for the future’ by backing sustainable development

Over 80 major businesses have united to call on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the UK and overseas Open letter to Prime Minister says sustainable development is essential for long term prosperity and the wellbeing of future generations Letter is published on the eve of the ... more

It’s all about the application

In the lead up to FutureFest last month, Nesta carried out a survey which revealed that more people would rather live now than in 20 years’ time. Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive at Nesta, reminded us that our future is a choice; we have an opportunity to change this fear into possibility. “The concept of the ... more

22 years: Proof Positive

We’ve been thinking positively and working with our clients to make real positive change for the last 22 years. Here are just a few of the things we’re most proud of which show that if businesses, governments, charities and people work together, we can make good things happen…   In 2003 we created Seeing is ... more

Can the heroes of Rio really inspire a nation to get fit?

There had been hopes that London 2012 would be a turning point in the nation’s health, and that the legacy of the Olympics would be to inspire people to walk, run, swim and jump in large numbers. Alas, the warm glow did not last beyond that Olympic summer and there is no evidence to suggest that Rio will be any different. ... more

25 August 2016

Forster calls on PR industry to act on mental health

We have been working with Business in the Community and Public Health England to develop a new free toolkit for employers to act on mental health – and now we want it to change they way the PR industry promotes mental health in its own workplaces. With one in six employees currently experiencing problems, mental ... more

17 May 2016

Mental health? We’ve barely started

People remember the headline ‘Bonkers Bruno’ from the Sun, one of the saddest and most misguided headlines ever published. But the article that was printed beneath it was just as corrosive. It described the retired boxer Frank Bruno as “a nutter” who had been “locked up”. We have come a long way since those days ... more

17 May 2016

Taking a lead on workplace mental health

So much is written about mental health in the workplace and plenty of advice is available on how to protect and support employees. But many organisations still fail to act – are they confused by where to start, shackled by the stigma that still surrounds mental health, or have they simply failed to understand the ... more

17 May 2016

Where next for mental health in the UK?

Mental health has come a long way over the last decade or two but there is still more that can be done to ensure appropriate products and services are in place to help. We asked some of our clients and associates working in mental health to share their thoughts. You can join the conversation by ... more

17 May 2016

Five Ways We Can All Limit Loneliness

Loneliness is a public health crisis. And one that's getting worse. It's a crisis facing individuals, so it's often invisible, yet pervasive - in organisations, at home, among the young and elderly, advantaged and disadvantaged. ... more

7 January 2016
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Bringing business to society

As the year comes to an end, you would be forgiven for believing the world has never been in worse shape. Social unrest, environmental devastation, economic uncertainty, multiple conflicts and the seemingly relentless rise of extremism – all have reared their heads repeatedly in 2015. But, you’d be wrong. The world is currently more peaceful, ... more

The issues that mattered most in 2015

The research we did earlier this year into consumer attitudes towards business involvement in social change highlighted just how important the majority of consumers feel it is for businesses to get more involved. Following on from that, we have been busy analysing the issues that mattered most to consumers over the past year, to highlight ... more

22 December 2015
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The charity sector needs to campaign for its reputation

Predictably the recent Times exposure have inspired much gnashing of teeth and cries of “why us?” – just as the previous scandals and crises have done so. It is a legitimate question to ask – it is not paranoid to think someone is out to get you when someone is really out to get you. ... more

22 December 2015
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A year of digital milestones

We live in a fast moving digital world and it can be hard to keep up with all the latest innovations. Below are ten of the biggest digital developments in 2015. Sign up here to receive our regular round-up of digital news in 2016. Virtual Reality just got real Facebook launched 360 Video, completely changing the ... more

Championing change-makers in businesses

Businesses have long been at the vanguard of driving social and environmental change, and that change is often powered by an individual within the business with the passion, commitment and ability to make things happen Finding, celebrating and supporting those individuals is crucial to getting more businesses involved in positive change, which is why we ... more

Study reveals issues that mattered most in 2015

Homelessness, feminism and mental health establish themselves in national psyche As the year comes to a close and attention turns to the year that was, Forster, the communications agency working with businesses and charities to accelerate change, today reveals the social issues that most captured the nation’s attention over the last 12 months. Social media ... more

We’re in the business of action

Raising awareness is one thing, getting people to take action is another. We’ve spent 20 years successfully inspiring the latter and have brought all that knowhow together to create our new Activation practice. It will focus on helping clients create campaigns and movements that inspire people to challenge attitudes, support a cause, change the way ... more

Sincerity is key in campaign spokespeople

This week, Professor Green has received mass adulation for speaking out on an issue that’s so personal to him, yet relates to thousands of unheard voices – depression in men. The rapper, real name Stephen Manderson, lost his father seven years ago due to an ongoing battle with mental health issues that led to his ... more

30 October 2015

World Mental Health Day – the case is clear

By Louise Aston, Wellbeing at Work Campaign Director, Business in the Community Awareness days often have very little real meaning or significance, but World Mental Health Day (10th October) is an exception. Mental health is an issue that affects everyone in society, from our friends and family, to children in our classrooms and chief executives ... more

8 October 2015
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Does the answer lie within, for communities?

With a lot of the impact of both the economic downturn and the public sector cuts still to be fully realised, there are many local communities across the UK holding their breath and fearing the worst. Some of them already feel desperate. Putting aside the rights and wrongs of this situation, it is happening, so ... more

25 August 2015
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Time to rebrand the NHS?

The National Health Service (NHS) sits at the heart of our country, and as we know from recent election debates, is fiercely protected by all politicians and greatly loved by the general public. Why then, when we as individuals generally hold it in such high regard, do we not take some responsibility for it? The ... more

23 June 2015

Let’s put an end to One Size Fits All

We are a very different country since the launch of the NHS in 1948. Yes we are living longer lives, but not always healthier or happier ones. Health inequalities are widening, with proactive ‘expert patients’ leaping ahead of increasingly disengaged individuals with a fatalistic attitude towards their health. Patients come in all shapes and sizes, ... more

23 June 2015

Creating a shared purpose

From multidisciplinary teams in a hospital environment to broad, cross sector healthcare teams in the community, people with different expertise and interests are being increasingly expected to work together to meet healthcare targets. While funding and accountability will occupy much of the debate on ‘who’s responsible’, senior leaders and communications professionals need to urgently consider ... more

23 June 2015
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Action on Dementia

In the multiplicity of awareness weeks, days, hours even, it seems oddly appropriate that Dementia Awareness Week follows directly from Mental Health Awareness Week. Dementia and mental health share many things in common – stigma, misunderstanding, fear and a wide spectrum of conditions under each collective grouping. However, there is room to be positive. The ... more

14 May 2015

The challenge of engaging staff on mental health issues in the health sector

The need for NHS employees to be supported by health and wellbeing plans is well documented. NHS Employers estimates that 30 percent of NHS sick leave is caused by stress, costing up to £400 million a year in lost productivity, and NHS England’s Five Year Forward View has highlighted the need for Trusts to help ... more

11 May 2015
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Why it makes good business sense to take mental health seriously

The business case for addressing mental health in the workplace is overwhelming: one in four people experience a common mental health condition – such as stress, anxiety or depression – each year and the overall cost of mental health to the UK economy is estimated at £70 billion per year (4.5% of GDP). Anyone can ... more

11 May 2015
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Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, on how UK businesses are increasingly focused on supporting their employees’ mental health

With one in six workers in Britain experiencing mental health issues, and with the workplace being one of the most common areas where people report stigma and discrimination, it is vital that we pursue more inclusive workplaces focused on mental health and wellbeing as a core shared goal. Mental Health Awareness Week gives us another ... more

11 May 2015
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#HomeSafe: Social purpose begins at home

Social purpose can mean going big. It can mean helping businesses address sustainability issues, or opening up space for conversations about mental health. But social purpose can also mean making changes a little closer to home – or in this case, in the home. At the end of March, we helped safety charity Electrical Safety ... more

27 April 2015

Mental Health at Forster

We’ve all heard the statistics; one in four people experience mental illness symptoms in any given year. What’s more, a recent survey from PRCA suggests this figure rises to a third within our sector, costing the UK economy an estimated £70 bn per year. In the last 15 years we have worked on a number ... more

13 April 2015
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Healthcare hold-ups: could a computer save your life?

Image credit: I, Robot (film), 20th Century Fox, 2004 We’ve been hearing a lot about automation and its place in the workforce lately, with technological innovations leading a dramatic shift in how we communicate, how we work but also how we deal with health care hold-ups. As a relatively new patient on the NHS and ... more

8 April 2015
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Why long-term campaigning works: spotlight on cycling

2015 will mark the 10th anniversary of the London 7/7 tube bombings, a terrible tragedy but which had the unexpected side effect of increasing the number of people cycling to work in London. Many will have reverted back to the tube having experienced riding a bike on the capital’s roads is perhaps not as expected. ... more

Why we should all take more risks

Being afraid to fail is something that will hold you back. It is the thing that will stop you creating something memorable and impactful. Playing it safe will not only always get you the same old results but, in fact, these will continue to diminish over time as your ideas lose traction in the ever ... more

25 February 2015

Safe cosmetic surgery choices need an educated public

“You wouldn’t go for cut price brain surgery – you would want the best that you can get.” These are the stark words from Nigel Mercer, President of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) to launch Think Over Before You Make Over today – a national education campaign that aims to ... more

19 February 2015

To affect change you have to believe in it

As an agency dedicated to bringing about social change, we know too well that you have to show people that change is actually possible if you want them to act more positively. Whether it is getting people cycling, being safer in their homes or even raising professional standards (see our case studies), you have to ... more

18 February 2015
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It’s time to talk

Louise Aston, Director at Business in the Community, outlines why encouraging conversations is so important for tackling mental ill health. Last week, thousands of employees across the country replaced the usual water cooler moment of catching up on Wolf Hall or The Voice with more personal interactions, on deeply personal issues. And it was all in ... more

10 February 2015
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Taking the biscuit

When it comes to being more active, we all know what we should be doing but a growing number of us don’t seem capable of doing it. The latest figures on the amount of physical exercise we take as a nation are pretty alarming. Across England about 29% of people overall are classed as physically ... more

20 November 2014

Friends Life and Chris Boardman – getting businesses to speak up, and act, on mental health

We had been working with Friends Life indirectly for the past two years in their capacity as a leading member of the Business in the Community (BITC) Workwell programme (see more on our work with BITC in this blog). Building on the huge success of launching BITC’s mental health campaign in April, which called for ... more

17 October 2014
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Electrical Safety First awards

We’re proud to announce that our award-winning and hard-hitting safety video campaign for Electrical Safety First is now double award-winning. The Beauty Burns video, designed to raise awareness among parents and lobby manufacturers and retailers that irresponsible use of hair straighteners causes one tenth of child burns, has scooped two awards.Beauty Burns won the gold ... more

1 October 2014
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Cycle to Work Day takes off

If you didn’t cycle to work on 4th September ( it wasn’t for want of high profile media coverage or social media buzz encouraging you to do so. On behalf of our client, Cyclescheme, we secured over 30 national pieces including BBC Breakfast, Chris Evans Breakfast show, Sky News, the Daily Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, ... more

11 September 2014
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Let the Tour Legacy Begin

The support that the Tour de France received as it threaded its way through throngs of fans, lining the route from Yorkshire to London, exceeded even the most optimistic of expectations. More than 2.5 million people cheered on the riders over the first two days, with many more taking a day off or stealing away from work ... more

11 July 2014

Despite trolling social media can still be a force for good

The rise of social media has increased interconnectivity amongst people and communities. Arguably, we live in two worlds: in one world we communicate with others face-to-face and in the other; where all forms of traditional communication can be avoided through the use of the internet – a ‘virtual world’. Some may argue that social media ... more

9 July 2014
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Don’t sweat it, do it

It’s the same every year isn’t it?  As the covers come off at Wimbledon, many of us think about getting back on the court.  But thinking about it is as far as we often get.  This summer, with one of the most exciting World Cups we’ve enjoyed for years on TV, maybe you’d think the ... more

7 July 2014

We’re talking about mental health, are you?

Last year, more than 15 million days of sickness absence across the UK were caused by everyday mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety or depression. And despite one in six employees (that’s your colleagues, friends and family) currently experiencing mental health issues, many businesses are not putting in place plans to ensure the mental ... more

29 April 2014
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Hard message? Get creative

As an agency that focuses on behavioural change campaigns we are often tasked with reaching audiences who are disengaged from what we are trying to say, whether this is because they are socially isolated, have ‘heard it all before’, or in many cases, more

17 April 2014

Slaying sacred cows

Whatever your political standpoint, your personal experiences or how much importance you place on providing a ‘free at point of delivery’ health service, one thing is certain: the current model of the NHS is not sustainable. As a recent Kings Fund report stated: “If increases in spending on the NHS continue at the current rate ... more

19 February 2014
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We’ve come a long way

Mental health has never been more relevant. There’s been public outrage about the level of cuts to mental health services: The Guardian recently reported that the NHS currently allocates just 13% of its resources to treatment of mental health problems, despite these problems accounting for 23% of disease burden in England. Campaigns such as the ... more

19 February 2014
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Why communications shouldn’t forget the power of conversation

We’ve seen a huge shift in public perceptions of mental health since the first cases of ‘shell shock’ and acute psychological trauma emerged in 1914. We have a better understanding of common conditions of stress, depression and anxiety and can more accurately identify their causes. Rapid social behaviour change in this century presents new challenges. ... more

6 February 2014

Safety Campaign Launches

Today we are working with the Electrical Safety Council to raise awareness of the temperatures hair straighteners can reach and the fact that they are causing an increasing number of burns among children. We worked with a number of hospitals, burns consultants and university academics to gather data to support the campaign, and found that ... more

31 January 2014

Forster presents at the London Health Workplace Charter Awards

This time last year Forster were in London’s Living Room at City Hall receiving an award for excellence from the London Healthy Workplace Charter, marking us out as a progressive business interested in doing more than box-ticking on our team’s health and wellbeing. This year they invited us back to present the awards to the ... more

3 December 2013

The movement to foster greater wellbeing at work is growing. But let’s not forget what work can do for us.

Wellbeing is a hot topic. A spate of high profile cases recently have highlighted the growing pressure we all face, especially at work – from the death of a 21-year-old banking intern to the resignation of senior Barclays executive Sir Hector Sants following a leave of absence due to stress and exhaustion. The 9 to ... more

14 November 2013

Future positive

Rip up the past, make new rules Unlike governments, which seem enfeebled and out of time everywhere, more and more businesses are realising that they can change the world for the better by putting purpose at the centre of everything they do. In the UK, when we need to be looking ahead, much of 2014 ... more

Rip it up and start again

Today we’ve launched our new winter insight report, “Rip it up and start again” to inspire businesses to think differently about how to create change 2014.. It’s full of provocations, ideas and inspiring examples of businesses bringing their energy, flair and innovation to bear on a range of issues from an ageing population through to reducing wasteful ... more

Sowing the seeds for positive social change

The sun has shone more than most had dared hope, but not everyone’s having a lovely summer.  The Trussell Trust has announced that increasing numbers of families are struggling to feed their children throughout the break, let alone enjoy the good weather. more

14 August 2013

We’re not allowed to discriminate… but we do

Last week Forster had a session on becoming a dementia friends. For those not familiar with the scheme this is an hour’s interactive briefing run by Alzheimer’s Society, designed to make people more aware of what it is like to have dementia and the problems those with the disease encounter on a daily basis. As ... more

Thinking clearly about cosmetic surgery

The latest series of The Apprentice has raised new questions around the ethics of cosmetic surgery. In such a vitriolic and heated debate, how can we help to ensure that the right voices are heard? The inaugural series of The Apprentice saw winner Tim Campbell become Project Director of Amstrad’s new Health and Beauty division. ... more

26 July 2013

Plan together. Act together

Plan ahead. That’s usually good advice for any organisation considering brand development. Our recent work with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance is a case in point. Looking to enhance its engagement and relationships with all stakeholders, as one part of its ‘global 2020 strategy’, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance commissioned Forster to develop a new brand model ... more

16 July 2013
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Feed the need for fitter school food

Is there anyone left out there who doubts the importance of good nutrition and food education? Around one-quarter of all children entering primary school at age four are currently overweight or obese and this increases to one-third by the time those kids leave primary school, at age 11. Recent NHS admission figures show that in ... more

16 July 2013

It’s Bike Week! Get your workforce cycling and reap the benefits

This week we launched national Bike Week for the sixth year running – but our proudest achievement lies within our own four walls. Yesterday morning, I couldn’t fit my bike into Forster HQ because there were too many there already. For many this would be a real annoyance, but as I trundled off to find ... more

21 June 2013

5 ways we can all limit loneliness

Loneliness is a public health crisis. And one that’s getting worse. It’s a crisis facing individuals, so it’s often invisible, yet pervasive – in organisations, at home, among the young and elderly, advantaged and disadvantaged. What can we do about loneliness? Here are some suggestions. In Paulo Coelho’s book ‘Eleven Minutes’, loneliness is the worst ... more

18 June 2013

Taking an open-minded approach to mental health

Forster recently helped Business in the Community’s Workwell programme to launch its first ever FTSE 100 benchmark results. This gave an insight to how some of the world’s leading companies manage the health and wellbeing of their people. There was one particular set of findings that was most compelling – only 6% of the FTSE ... more

4 June 2013

Why should I fundraise for you?

Recent research seems to indicate that people in the UK are giving less to charity than in previous years. So charities need to be doing more to attract our attention and encourage us to both give direct donations and become a fundraiser for them. But what are the factors that encourage you to fundraise for ... more

16 May 2013

Organ donation – How far does giving go?

In a time when the voluntary giving of time, money and energy is part of our social fabric, how far are we willing to go?  For some people, giving continues after death. Last year a close family friend was diagnosed with acute renal failure and placed on emergency dialysis. Since then she has been having ... more

7 May 2013

‘Public interest’ – whose interest is it anyway?

As we teeter on the brink of a triple-dip recession and the Bank of England considers introducing negative interest rates, budget cuts will inevitably be on the mind of every government department, local authority and UK household. Scaling back public spending is an unfortunate but necessary evil, and means that we need to establish and ... more

4 March 2013

Different ways of working

At the beginning of February, the tiny West African country of Gambia introduced a four-day working week for its public-sector workers.  The President’s office supported this decision by stating that the extra day ‘will allow Gambians to devote more time to prayers, social activities and agriculture’ and ultimately make for a healthier and happier nation. more

20 February 2013

Generations Talking Together: a new debate

At the end of January, Forster and United For All Ages came together to run Generations Talking Together, a series of discussions in News International’s boardroom examining intergenerational tension. The debates were attended by 80 people from a wide variety of backgrounds from CEOs of major charities, to the Head of Economics at a trade ... more

11 February 2013
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Joining up the dots on wellbeing

Forster currently works with Business in the Community (BITC) Workwell which is leading employee engagement and wellbeing action in order to improve business performance and productivity. I recently attended a brilliant session on DIY Happiness run by Sherry Clark from NHS South London and Maudsley (organised by Better Bankside). As Mental Health Promotion Co-ordinator Sherry ... more

8 February 2013

Outside claims vs. the voice within

January can be a difficult month. It starts with bad habits being cast away and resolutions boldly taken up. This can be painfully difficult once we realise that some old habits are not as easily broken as others, and making ‘healthier choices’ can be a complex task. This period of mass confusion is well-publicised, but ... more

15 January 2013

Your New Year’s resolution: improve employee wellbeing

As we enter year two of measuring national wellbeing through the ONS, the subject continues to create speculation and debate. Can we accurately measure it? What should we do with this data once it’s collected? What impact does wellbeing have on the government, the economy, businesses and society? Whose responsibility is it? And most importantly ... more

9 January 2013

What will Britain’s roads look like in 2022?

This Christmas marks the close of a year which has seen cycling at the heart of an unprecedented wave of national celebration. The first English Tour de France winner and eight cycling gold medals at London 2012 were undoubtedly highlights. We’ve also seen the Mayor of London pledge to double spending on cycling infrastructure in ... more

20 December 2012

Is just say no, really making us say yes?

Public information notices telling us not to drink drive, drop litter or smoke inside, clutter our busy urban environment. So much so they almost blend into the background, and we barely even register they are there. So perhaps it’s not surprising to see new research published this week claiming that these notices have precisely the ... more

16 November 2012

My new role model: a 93 year old bodybuilder

Not going to the gym; what’s your excuse? I’ll go tomorrow; today has been a busy day. Oh but there is a good program on T.V tonight, maybe next time. I would, but I’m too tired. None of these excuses seemed to have crossed the mind of Dr Charles Eugster.  At 93 years of age, ... more

9 November 2012


MS. Is that the same as ME? Is it something to do with Parkinson’s? Is it connected to Motor Neurone disease? How much do you really know about MS? I have to admit that up until recently, my knowledge of the condition that affects around 100,000 people in the UK was fairly poor. So being ... more

2 November 2012

Making an informed choice: breast cancer screening

My heart sank last week to read that  Copenhagen-based Professor Peter Gotzsche had announced his findings that breast screening results in unnecessary mastectomy and doesn’t justify the ends, describing breast screening as a ‘public health scandal’. This kind of emotive language is understandable from a scientist’s perspective, but for a potential patient, hearing this can ... more

31 October 2012

Help me plan for the future

I can’t make up my mind where to go on holiday next year. And I still haven’t decided what to do this weekend. Hey, I don’t even know what I want for lunch today. So it will come as no surprise that I haven’t thought much about my future when it comes to care. And ... more

31 October 2012

Ageing well

Living longer without good health is becoming a personal and collective problem that organisations must respond to. While the Office for National Statistics puts current female life expectancy at birth as 82 and 78 for men, the fastest growing part of the UK population is the 85+ group. 47% of people aged 75+ have a ... more

24 October 2012

Eat Well

It’s time we addressed our low-fat/ fat-free feeding frenzy. With the right support, we can move away from large portions of seemingly healthy, processed, fat-free foods and towards smaller portions of well cooked, real food. Foodies and exercise go together like clams and custard. Hail the rise of the new foodies – people who love ... more

24 October 2012

Looking out for Mental Wellbeing

More than 6 million adults and 700,000 children suffer from depression or anxiety conditions. A third of families have a member suffering from a mental illness and mental problems account for nearly half of absenteeism at work. Despite years of campaigning, some aspects of mental health remain taboo, unrecognised or misunderstood, especially in the workplace. ... more

24 October 2012

Your Active Ingredient

Many organisations are already working with their own employees to improve their activity level. The NHS Challenge is an initiative to support 300,000 NHS staff to become more physically active. Morrison’s ‘Miles for Smiles’ campaign challenges all employees to see how far they can walk, run, swim, cycle – and fundraise for Save The Children ... more

24 October 2012

Facebook oversharers

I used to have a friend guilty of chronic overshares on Facebook. Hers were of the more hysterical type, each status update strained against the 5000 character limit, detailing minor inconveniences in operatic terms. Another contact committed overshares of the more incessant variety. Her network was kept informed of her geographical location, TV preferences, indecision ... more

18 October 2012

Silence on mental health – that’s the global crisis……

It’s not the prevalence of mental health that is the crisis – it’s the stigma and discrimination that’s the real issue.   The stigma which continues to shroud all forms mental illness is deeply unhelpful. It prevents people seeking the help that they need It prevents people talking, sharing and comparing experiences It makes it ... more

10 October 2012

The Activity for All Manifesto

I am thinking a lot about sport and activity these days. It happens at this time every year, as the nights draw in earlier and the sun sinks lower in the sky. I know that winter gloom isn’t far off and I think if I don’t start that ‘walking every day’ regime soon it will ... more

2 October 2012

Are UK workers well-connected?

It’s a no brainer that employee wellness matters. Staff turnover can be reduced by up to 87% through wellness programmes according to figures from Business In The Community (BITC) and the number of absences due to illness and recurring health conditions such as backache can be significantly reduced. But, while taking care of wellness leads ... more

27 September 2012

The Ellie Effect

The euphoric image of our 17 year old Paralympic poster girl, beaming from ear to ear after winning gold brought tears to my, and I’m guessing thousands of others, eyes. You can’t fail to be moved by Ellie and the Paralympians overwhelming joy, passion, skill and self-effacing style. They truly are super-human. So will the ... more

6 September 2012

Suspicious minds: can the public, private and voluntary sector really get along together?

This week’s DEMOS Beyond the Games event kicked off with a reminder of the long term ambitions of the Olympics: Regeneration of a deprived community where average life expectancy is a staggering seven years less than the London average Inspiring the next generation of athletes, as well as the general public, to take up sport ... more

7 August 2012

Does Race for Life have a Shelf Life?

I’ve run (okay, jogged and sometimes walked) the Race for Life on numerous occasions. Cancer Research UK, in collaboration with Tesco, has made it to the grand status of the UK’s largest women-only fundraising event. Not bad for an event that started out with a few hundred people in Battersea Park in 1994. Undoubtedly you ... more

24 July 2012

Can rewards pursuade us to walk more?

With experts suggesting that inactivity is causing as many deaths as smoking, exercise has once again been raised as an urgent health issue. But what role should communications play in helping health care professionals, the government and charities to get their message across and get people active? Reluctance to exercise means that a third of ... more

24 July 2012

Giving Young People a Sporting Chance

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few weeks, you are probably at least dimly aware that the Olympics are nearly upon us. One of the main reasons London secured the Games ahead of Paris was the focus the bid put on legacy, specifically the positive impact the Games would have on ... more

24 July 2012

Wiggins and the yellow jersey: sporting ‘personality’ for a cautious media age

“Have a safe journey home and don’t get too drunk!” – the parting words of Bradley Wiggins, addressing the crowds along the Champs Elysées on Sunday, having just become the first Brit in history to win the Tour de France. His casual humour – as trademark as his weighty chops – was not undone by ... more

23 July 2012

Walking in someone else’s shoes

If you could stand up for change and take a step towards global tolerance, would you do it? more

23 July 2012

A charity’s biggest asset: passion

The subject of this week’s Cass CCE charity talk was what makes a leader caring but effective? The debate covered everything from the role of sharing cakes, knowing when to delegate and when to meddle, to a story about chickens. Both the panel and audience agreed that there is no single approach to effective leadership ... more

12 July 2012

Campaign to End Loneliness launches online toolkit targeted at health and wellbeing boards

The idea that older people often suffer from loneliness is not exactly new, but the extent and impact of this problem is rarely discussed. This makes today’s launch of the new online tool kit designed by Forster for Campaign to End Loneliness all the more important. The charity coalition group highlighted that 8-10% of older ... more

9 July 2012
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No neat lines in life

A recent conference on the challenges – and opportunities – of an ageing population, brought into sharp focus for the me the fact that there are no neat lines to draw around where ‘services’ stop and where ‘social life, family and friends’ start. For example the relatively straight forward service of an older person’s medical ... more

6 July 2012

Sharing responsibility for safer cycling

My bike has a new bell. It sounds a bit like a 1950s telephone; ringing loudly and insistently. At every reassuringly annoying ‘ding-a-ling’, pedestrians decide not to walk out blindly in front of me and even drivers abort unplanned turns. In short, it’s fantastic. The bell, along with a hi-vis jacket (also reassuringly annoying), is ... more

26 June 2012

Video view from the Great British Care Show

I recently visited the Great British Care Show to gain insight into issues and innovations in the sector. Click here to watch a video about the day.   more

20 June 2012

A better outlook on life – Understanding the role of plastic and reconstructive surgery

In the same sentence, can we really talk about addressing the needs of a physically disfigured soldier and encouraging a 75 year-old woman to have cosmetic surgery? Perhaps we should suspend our judgement over what constitutes dignity and vanity. That’s exactly what Forster did when we chose to work with BAPRAS, the British Association of ... more

18 June 2012

MPs shine a bright light on mental health

I applaud the MPs who stood up yesterday and disclosed their very personal mental health stories in a bid to address the stigma and discrimination that Forster has been developing campaigns around for over a decade more

15 June 2012


For those who haven’t noticed, November is no longer just the month for brandishing sparklers and premature Christmas shopping. It has now evolved into ‘Movember’ – an annual effort during which men (and some women) unite for the sake of a good cause and facial hair goes global. more

30 May 2012

Beecroft not the best route to better peformance

As a director of a small company, I am all too aware of the importance of every employee performing to the best of their ability; just one person not pulling their weight can have a big impact on clients, on colleagues and on the bottom line. But Beecroft’s ‘no fault dismissal’ proposal is not the solution. ... more

25 May 2012

Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and it is interesting to see that mental wellbeing is the theme. The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging the public to do a good deed to feel good.  We have come a long way from the days of ‘mental health’ meaning ill health. And mental ill health being ... more

23 May 2012

Time waits for no government

If you have anything to do with Social Care in this country you will be feeling exasperated and let down today by the Queen’s speech. Only a draft Social Care bill, but a full bill for House of Lords reform. The Government has its priorities the wrong way round. Political expediency is getting in the ... more

9 May 2012

Let’s care about carers

The principle of personalisation – for both the cared for and the carer – is absolutely right. The systems, services and support – the real choices – just aren’t there yet. Over 3 million people juggle care with work. However, the significant demands of caring mean that 1 in 5 carers is forced to give ... more

9 May 2012

New carers charity brand unveiled

Carers Trust, the new charity formed by the merger of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care, unveiled its new brand this week which was developed with Forster since November. Carers Trust provides support, information, advice and services for the millions of people caring at home for a family member or friend.  We ... more

27 April 2012

Changing lives through food…but how?

Everyone’s shaking a stick at obesity these days, saying something needs to change. And yet no one seems able to agree on whose responsibility it is let alone who should take the lead. We need to get a move on. More than a third of children are currently either overweight or obese and by 2030 ... more

24 April 2012

Finding your feet

Growing into your later years provides you with a great opportunity: the chance to find and take a suitable form of exercise that keeps you physically fit and mentally strong. Exercise is emerging as one of the most potent factors influencing health in old age. But doesn’t exercise stress the body, potentially causing more rather ... more

28 March 2012

Work is good for you

Disability and work has been a theme this week.  I heard Chris Grayling outline his vision for supporting people with long term health conditions back into work, alongside progressive employers like BT who have helped hundreds with chronic conditions stay employed. But it wasn’t by accident that the conference was held at KPMG; the business ... more