More than 1,800 people tuned in to what was billed as Swindon's first-ever online 'feel good' event.
Hosted by work and wellbeing employment services provider Seetec Pluss and targeted at the Swindon community, the virtual collaborative event featured guests who came together to discuss the pandemic's effects on employment, wellbeing and the community.
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland joined to discuss inclusive employment and looking after your mental health with Denise Lewington, Employer Services Account Manager for Seetec Pluss.
Mr Buckland said: “Being with my family and getting out for some exercise like a run or a good power walk leaves me feeling happy and energised. Also, having the company of friends around me now that restrictions are carefully lifting will be even better.”
Asked if having a job was important for health and wellbeing, he said: “Yes, it gives a rhythm to your life and brings you in contact with people from other backgrounds. I’ve seen how work transforms people’s lives and it’s such an important part of who we are as human beings.”
Aseef Peera is the Store Manager of a Pizza Hut branch in Swindon and was supported by Seetec Pluss’ Employer Services Team to help with his recruitment.
He said: “Seetec Pluss’ screening process is very good. They send suitable applicants to our positions and they’re saving us a lot of work to be honest! Time is money in catering and hospitality.”
Tasha Raybould was a participant in Seetec Pluss’ Work and Health programme, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and European Social Fund, and is now happily working for Aseef at Pizza Hut.
“I was going through a really dark place a couple of years ago and I needed intervention," she said.
"I was referred to Seetec Pluss and was supported by my Work Coach Amy Ward. They helped me get back into work and pushed me forward to get out of my dark place.
"Everyone combined supported me to no ends which is fantastic. I love working at Pizza Hut, and I feel so supported by everyone there.”
The event also highlighted the support available for those looking to upskill and progress in their careers.
Jen Jones, Skills and Employment Manager for Swindon Borough Council, spoke about the support available for individuals who are unsure of their next steps when they leave school or college.
She said: “Covid has undeniably really impacted our young people and they may be nervous about their individual journey into employment.
"Swindon Council will soon be running face-to-face appointments through our Pilot Youth Education, Employment and Training Hub with partners such as Building Bridges, to guide them towards the path that is right for them.”
Amanda Peach, Skills and Enterprise Adviser for Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Hub LEP detailed the raft of support for those looking to start their own business or even scale up an established business.
“We have fully funded courses in business start-up to scale-up and a series of webinars on a range of subjects such as wellbeing, which is hugely important,” she said.
Monday, 17 May saw the re-opening of indoor hospitality in England, and one local business thrilled to open its doors to the Swindon community again was The Olive Tree Café in Manor Garden Centre.
Phyllida and Carol from the café recalled the spirit of that day: “Some of our customers hadn’t seen each other in over a year so we were witnessing those reunions. Seeing people hug each other again was wonderful to see.”
They were joined by renowned South West Chef Peter Gorton to discuss how food and hospitality played such a big part in improving our mental wellbeing.
Peter said: “When I’m working in the kitchen, I notice a lot of younger people with mental health issues. Hospitality is like one big family; we all care about each other and I try to subtly help people feel confident and give them a sense of self-worth.”
Craig Duff, Director of Nanogreen Cleaning Ltd joined to talk about running a sustainable, eco-friendly cleaning company in Swindon and striving to build a strong workforce from people who have faced barriers in their life.
He said: “I had a difficult childhood and left school with no education. I moved to England from Glasgow in 1992 and I was lucky that someone put their arm over my shoulder and guided me through the way that things should be done.
“One of the key drivers for my business was that I wanted to involve people who are the furthest from employment.
"Today, one in five of our employees have come from challenging backgrounds, and as a personal drive I can relate to them, so I wanted to give something back to the local economy and community.”
Seetec Pluss would like to thank all guests and partners for coming together to make the fantastic event for the Swindon community.
They include Active and Inclusive Swindon, Deacon’s Jewellers, National Literacy Trust, Volunteer Swindon, New College, Institute of Technology, Green Labyrinth, Whitehead Ross Education and Consulting, Total Security, Achieve Together and Outset.
To catch up on the event in full with CHAOS TV, visit https://vimeo.com/552293231 or the Seetec Pluss’ Facebook page.