In last month’s All Things Business, local charity Aquarius’ workplace service, Aquarius Life, announced an exciting partnership with Northampton’s Brackmills Industrial Estate Business Improvement District (BID).
The BID has signed up to become the charity’s very first Advocate – an initiative which will provide all businesses on the estate with access to training and policy support to improve safety and productivity.
The stresses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may have increased unhealthy patterns of behaviours such as drinking, drug use and gambling for people in the workplace.
Individuals in employment are more likely to drink frequently compared to those who are unemployed. Certain working conditions are also associated with these issues, including shift work and remote working. Together, these risk factors make it more important than ever for businesses to support anyone that may be experiencing issues, and to prevent issues from arising.
Aquarius Life provides various services to ensure that workplaces are equipped to deal with issues.
Richard Lilleyman, Team Leader for Aquarius Life, said: “Our mission is to help prevent and overcome the harms caused by alcohol, drugs and gambling through the delivery of cost-effective specialist workplace services. Any income we generate is reinvested in our other charitable community services, so serves businesses’ corporate social responsibility agendas.”
Aquarius Life provides:
Consultancy – writing, reviewing and implementing alcohol and drug policies. Supporting alcohol and drug amnesties when implementing new ways of working to ensure that people have a change to engage in support prior to any disciplinary processes/to prevent any issues arising in work.
Training – educating people about alcohol, drugs, and gambling issues and how they impact the user, the people around them and society more widely. Providing key roles with the skills to support people in the workplace (mainly for Management, HR, Occupational Health and other support services).
Support – Providing one-to-one support programmes for people with issues to help them to recover and lead a fulfilling lives.
The British Medical Association has noted that: ‘There are many factors within the workplace culture that present an increased risk for the use of substances including availability, work/peer-group pressures, lack of supervision, physical danger and interface with a demanding or aggressive public. International evidence also indicates that longer working hours are significantly associated with higher rates of alcohol use and related problems.’
The use and possession of illicit drugs falls under several criminal laws. Employers have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees and others affected by their work activities.
With increased involvement from businesses across Northamptonshire, Aquarius Life hopes to:
- Raise awareness of alcohol, drug and gambling issues in the workplace.
- Encourage employers to recognise the challenges behind the issues we work with and take positive practical steps in support of issues.
- Reduce the stigma attached to these issues and encourage people to come forward for support.
- Provide education to help prevent issues from arising.
- Use one-to-one support to help people understand their behaviours and find alternative ways to cope.
One client that has received support from Aquarius Life said: “It has been difficult, but the support I have received has driven me to change some destructive habits, to motivate myself in different ways through learning distraction techniques and setting myself targets. I think this will always be a battle for me, but I know now I can get help when I need it. I have recently passed a drug and alcohol test at work and am proud of what I have achieved.”