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Workers’ health shouldn’t be a postcode lottery

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The health inequalities experienced by the North East are no secret. The TUC has been fighting against the unjust and avoidable North-South divide for years. But with the North East bearing the brunt of this divide, something extra needed to be done. 

The North East has the shortest healthy life expectancy in the country. Men and women living in the South East can expect to live a healthy life up to the age of around 66. However, for those living in the North East it’s around 60. A whole six years less. 

Even within the North East itself the inequalities are stark, with the healthy life expectancy of people living in Byker being 11 years lower than that of people living in Ponteland South, just 10 miles down the road. 

There are many things that shouldn’t be a postcode lottery, and health is definitely one of them. 

The social and economic causes and solutions to these startling disparities are complex. But one place effective change can happen is in the workplace. And the Better Health at Work Award is evidence of this. 

The award was created in 2009 to help address some of the region's long-standing health issues and inequalities by taking health and wellbeing into the workplace. It encourages and rewards employers who are committed to creating healthy workplaces and improving the wellbeing of their employees. And its reach is massive. 

Within the North East alone, 350 organisations and business are now signed up and almost 200,000 workers are covered by the award. If we add to that the 26 employers and 28,000 workers engaged across Cumbria, the award becomes one of the biggest workplace health programmes in England. It now delivers more than one million points of health and wellbeing contact annually. That’s huge. And that’s why TUC Northernis incredibly proud to coordinate the award and be an integral part of its impact and success. 

This year the award celebrates a fantastic ten years of making North East workplaces happier and healthier with its ‘Big 10’. A decade of creating good work and a healthier region is a real achievement and we should be extremely proud that the North East has led the way with a partnership approach and developed a real flagship programme to be proud of.

And this pride shines through in a video we recently produced to showcase the benefits of the award. The video, created as part of the ‘Big 10’, really brings the impact of the award to life through testimonials from people who have actually participated in it. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, it’s definitely worth a watch and can be found on the Better Health at Work Award website.

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