Have a piece of cake – we have time to talk!

Pictured at the Time to Talk cake stall are, from the left: Courtney McDonagh, Puja Sharma, HSQE Co-ordinator Romina Ejaz, and CCTV quality assurance co-ordinator Rosa Wilk, who is also a mental health first aider.

It was time to talk and time to eat cake for Lanes colleagues working for Thames Water.

Mental health first aiders organised the event to bring people together for Time to Talk Day, led by Mind and supported by Comic Relief.

Dozens of people visited the cake stall at the Customer Solutions Centre (CSC) in Slough, Berkshire.

Quantity surveyor Puja Sharma organised the event with health, safety and wellbeing trainee Courtney McDonagh.

Puja said: “Time to Talk Day is all about giving people space and time to talk to each other, to make friends and give each other support.

“We thought a cake stall was an ideal way to encourage people to step away from their screens and take a moment to socialise with colleagues.”

Cakes of all shapes and sizes were donated by staff, helping to raise £179.95 for Mind.

Lanes Group plc is the wastewater network services maintenance partner for Thames Water.

It has trained 15 mental health first aiders to support colleagues at the CRC and at operational hubs across the Thames Water region.

They are also playing a key role in organising monthly events during 2020 to promote wellbeing and mental health.

These will include meditation classes, stress-buster workshops and health awareness days.

Puja said: “There will be something for everyone over the coming months. We can all help each other be healthier and happier.”

The mental health first aider team is working with Lanes wellbeing and mental health practitioner Kelly Hansford, who provides counselling for colleagues who want it.

Puja said: “Becoming mental health first aiders has been a great experience for all of us. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves as well as developed skills to help others.

“Since the training, people have approached me to ask to talk to get things of their chests because they know I’m trained to help.

“It’s about having a listening ear and signposting people to the help they need. Hopefully, we can all work together to help people before they experience a mental health crisis.”

The Lanes utilities operation has an award-winning wellbeing app that monitors workplace happiness and offers help, through Kelly Hansford, if people want it.

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