On 19th September 2019 my Dad died. He was born in Blackpool in 1929 to parent s both born and bred in Blackpool and died in Blackpool 90 years later, a true Sand Grown ‘un’. He lived a life dedicated to helping others and he was a wonderful and loving Dad to me. He dealt with the final months of his life, most of which was spent in either the ‘Vic’, Clifton Hospital or the Farthings Nursing Home with typical good grace and humour. We are better people for having known him.

My Dad’s death and the following days have been marked by such strong emotions, intense sadness matched with gratitude and joy (so many good memories to savour!) His funeral contained a lot of laughter amidst the tears of sadness.

So, what has this got to do with Empowerment which happens to be my place of work and also the organisation it is my privilege to lead? Well, it has everything to do with it, because at Empowerment we believe that all of our staff and volunteers (including the CEO) are human beings who can at times be vulnerable and fragile. As a ‘Time to Change’ employer, we are working towards creating a culture where our people don’t have to hide their mental health issues and can talk freely and frankly about them without stigma and shame… I am no exception.

I am a 47-year-old man with a history of anxiety and depression and the loss of a parent can of be a trigger for a deterioration in mental health. How our places of work respond to this is absolutely crucial. If there is not kindness and understanding in the work place, then this can make the situation so much worse.

The fact is that I did take a couple of days off and then I was back in work. I didn’t feel pressured to come back into work (everything seemed to work quite well without me), I actually wanted to come back to work because to do so felt good to me. This is because I enjoy my work, but I also wanted to be surrounded by good and kind people who would be compassionate to me. I didn’t need to hide and pretend that everything was ok, because it wasn’t.

Our experience of grief is unique to each of us, sometimes people will need a lengthy absence from work, others may return sooner but need to work flexibly and with reduced hours. Both are fine. What is essential though is that our workplaces accept that we are human beings; therefore, the ‘Compassionate Employer’ is what we aspire to be and live out each day. Empowerment quite rightly expects the best of the people who work and volunteer for us; surely it is right that they should expect the best from Empowerment?

If you want to find out more about Time to Change in Blackpool click on the following link:

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/hub/time-to-change-blackpool

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