Shortlisted nominees for the 2021 Make A Difference Awards

The shortlisted nominees for the 2021 Make A Difference Awards were:


A: Corporates – more than 250 employees

The shortlist of nominees for the Corporates category (listed in alphabetical order) is:

Aldi Stores Ltd  

“Aldi focuses on five areas of health and wellbeing – mental, physical, financial, nutritional and social. These are communicated on a dedicated MyWellness platform on our MyAldi app, which provides advice and guidance for colleagues in the form of articles, videos and signposting to trusted third parties. Visited by all of our 45,000+ colleagues since the launch in June, the platform is continually developed to support colleagues both in and outside of work. We partner with experts like the retailTRUST and Mental Health UK to provide colleagues with the best resources to support their wellbeing, including eLearning for all”.



“In March 2020, Awin established a framework to safeguard employee wellbeing through increased flexibility. Following the shift to a 4.5 work week to allow employees to spend time with family and the expedited rollout of a Global Wellness Programme, our efforts have culminated in the introduction of a 6 month pilot of a 4-day-work-week. In Q1 2021, employee sick leave has decreased -59% Year on Year (and -29% compared to 2019) with staff engagement increasing by +12.8%. Awin was named as one of Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work in the UK listing, an award based entirely on unsolicited employee feedback”.



“EUK’s newly adopted proactive, transformational human centered approach to wellbeing is underpinned by organisational strategic objectives and sustainable development goals to achieve a better world at work. An organisational wellbeing maturity model was developed and used as a gap analysis tool, along with other hygiene factors to assess our maturity and identify areas for improvement. The central wellbeing strategy (mental, physical, financial, clinical, work engagement) steers organisational wellbeing with the opportunity for local empowerment and a tailored approach using the operational maturity model and contract specific data to drive decision making. Our wellbeing movement is supported by our wellbeing champions network. Our aim is to ensure EUK’s wellbeing is embedded within our organisation and extends to families, supply chain, clients and communities”.

B: Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) – less than 250 employees

The shortlist of nominees for the SMEs category (listed in alphabetical order) is:


Circus Street

“During and after the upheaval of the pandemic we kept the Circus Street mindset (empowerment, self-awareness, strength-based development and optimism) front of mind. We quickly communicated all employees’ jobs would be secure with no furloughs or redundancies for peace of mind and pivoted our wellness strategy to maintain our company culture and keep spirits up. We ran pulse surveys to respond to any issues quickly and implemented more organisational clarity, more hybrid benefits, clear policies and constantly reminded people of our coping strategies, of mindfulness and provision of in-house CBT and the service of our health insurance provider. We also created lots of opportunity for social connection”.



“Mental health is now openly discussed in the business. We have had financial advisors in to support our financial wellbeing on a one-to-one basis; monthly care packages from pizza kits to fruit & veg boxes to hampers handmade & delivered by the management team; a walking challenge to encourage our colleagues out in the fresh air through the dark winter months that raised £7000 for local foodbanks; virtual games and social events.

Taking into consideration the different age groups within the business, we have tried to cater for everyone with a cross section of activities and maintain the family culture we pride ourselves in having”.

C: Public Sector / Charity

The shortlist of nominees for the Public Sector / Charity category (listed in alphabetical order) is:


British Red Cross

“At the start of Covid-19, the British Red Cross recognised the need for welfare of our volunteers to be at the heart of our response and launched a Volunteer Support Line (VSL). The VSL ensures people’s wellbeing is valued, supported, and protected to:

1) Have a healthy balance in their volunteering and personal life

2) Take care of their social, psychological, financial, and physical wellbeing

3) Be honest about their wellbeing and receive support when they need it.

The freephone / email VSL is accessible to >100k volunteers and operated by staff and volunteer. Funding has been secured to sustain this during 2021″.


Highways England

“At Highways England we want everyone home safe and well. Our kindness campaign increased conversations about mental wellbeing, which are culture changing. Engagement is up 12%. Our people shared positive things about our mental health: * Support from each other (90% fav); * Open and honest communications (89% fav); * Feeling cared for (88% fav). This is significant.

We introduced single-crewing for Traffic Officers; lateral-flow testing across operations, ensured shielding/self-isolating, gave budget for home-working and time for home-schooling and caring. Major construction continued, our Brexit plan was executed, and our new 5-year road plan began in these times”.


Sandwell College

“Sandwell College has gone above and beyond supporting colleagues, learners, and the wider community with issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing. The impact has been far reaching and inclusive of all groups and is the essence of decision making and actions. It has been further engrained into College culture and initiatives are sustainable and will mostly continue long term.

Examples of initiatives include the following: strong communications; additional support mechanisms; ‘Keeping Connected’ virtual events; interactive wellbeing site; external guest speakers; reduced appraisals etc. Initiatives have been taken by many sources from across the College through strong engagement within the College community”.


A: Unsung Hero / Heroine

The shortlist of nominees for the Unsung Hero category (listed in alphabetical order by first name) is:


Christine Howarth, Client Services & Mental Health Ally, Allen & Overy

“Christine became one of our London Mental Health Allies in May of last year and since then she has worked diligently to make an impact in ways far beyond what is expected of her as an ally. She sends a regular email to her practice group (Business Services) on all things wellbeing related whether that be webinars, toolkits or simply information that may in any way impact her colleagues’ mental health positively. She has actively become involved in writing communications on wellbeing for our wider London office and has now written stories about our allies, stress awareness and lockdown lifelines”.


Laura DeCook, Wellbeing Specialist, Expedia Group

“Laura was hired at Expedia Group as an Executive Assistant in early 2018. Less than a year later, she started the mental health program when she noticed the opportunity to improve upon internal resources to support employees that might be struggling. Laura began a program for employees around the globe to be trained in Mental Health First Aid, and soon after, became an MHFA instructor. She continues to host mental health workshops for all employees and was recently promoted as the company’s first Wellbeing Specialist where she has helped launch a wellbeing site and global partnerships with wellbeing companies”.


Rachel Pears, Inclusion & Diversity Lead, Internal Employment Council, RPC Law Firm

“Rachel has been pivotal in initiating and improving company-wide wellbeing. She has passionately extended this beyond her own firm, RPC, to inspire and share with others outside of the organisation. As an example, she organised and developed and initiative called “Beyond Fruit and Yoga” to challenge what counts as a true wellbeing strategy. She also extended this to people beyond her own firm. She has researched evidence-based, measurable provisions and has diligently worked to achieve senior buy-in and make substantial changes to the whole culture of the firm. It now proactively supports its employees and is a human place to work. Rachel has not stopped innovating and driving positive change. As soon as something yields success – she’s off on to her new focus! She’s also a very lovely person.”

B: True Leader

The shortlist of nominees for the True Leader category (listed in alphabetical order by first name) is:


David Henderson, Managing Director, Tobermore Concrete

“David as our MD always thinks of his people first. A true Leader, one of which we are extremely grateful to have. During the COVID 19 pandemic he went over and above to ensure his employees have felt as secure as possible in these difficult times. At the beginning of the pandemic when employees were furloughed, he paid everyone 100% wages as he didn’t want employees having financial worries at an already stressful time. He ensured on everyone’s return employees felt as safe as possible both at home and in work with safety measures put in place and an emphasis on Wellbeing when working from home. He implemented a full pay COVID sick pay scheme if employees were self-isolating or off sick due to Covid, again to eliminate financial worries and to keep everyone safe by not attending the workplace if they had symptoms. A Health and Wellbeing app was also introduced to employees which offers 365 days a year counselling, confidential helpline, Virtual GP appointments to name a few. Virtual team events have taken place such as cook alongs and team quizzes to keep employees connected”.


Guru Gowrappan, CEO, Verizon Media

“As Verizon Media’s CEO, Guru Gowrappan has made support for mental health a hallmark of how Verizon Media operates and participates meaningfully in the world. Guru believes that if we can shift how mental health is perceived within an organization, making it a clear business imperative, we can help normalize mental health and create a safe, supportive, inclusive workplace culture for all. He recently launched Mind Together, a mental health coalition to address mental health from the top down. Mind Together founding partners include Kellogg Company, Snap and Spotify, in addition to non-profit mental health advocacy group Made of Millions”.


Jonny Jacobs, Director Commercial Finance EMEA, Starbucks

“Jonny is unequivocally passionate about workplace mental health, using his influence as a senior leader in finance to drive the agenda at a corporate level, but also as an advocate and ambassador. In his previous roles as Strategy & Transformation Director at pladis he was the Executive Board sponsor for mental health, leading the employee mental health and wellbeing initiative, which led to the national ‘Let’s Talk’ partnership between McVities and the mental health charity, Mind. Over the last year at Starbucks, he has led the employee wellbeing group and played a fundamental role in the development and rebranding of the employee offer around wellbeing, which is branded, ‘Wellbeing Blend. An extra shot of wellness’, encompassing a range of initiatives including training and support both within and external to Starbucks. Jonny has been very generous with his personal time and is currently a trustee of the Mental Health Foundation and Mental Health at Work CIC. His combination of commercial perspective, along with a passion for the mission of these organisations to drive good mental health for all, is invaluable in ensuring broader reach of both message and impact”.

Click here to find out who won.


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