Mental Health Awareness Month: A spotlight on wellbeing in the third sector
Written by Sheetal Mistry, Community Development Project Manager
There is no doubt that the past year has had a huge impact on everyone’s mental health, regardless of the sector they work in. However, in the charity and social impact space, where resources are more limited, the consequences for staff have been arguably more severe. A survey conducted by Third Sector found that ‘more than 90 percent of respondents had experienced feelings of stress, overwhelm or burnout as a result of their work in 2020, with 91 percent saying that their commitment to the charity’s mission drove them to work longer hours or take on more than they could cope with’. This has raised a lot of concerns about the sustainability and commitment of charity sector staff going forward, as things continue to shift and change with regards to our working patterns and expectations.
To address this, the Connect team at ELBA has launched a new stream of work specifically focused on addressing staff wellbeing in the community sector across East London. We’ve partnered with Hackney CVS to build a greater understanding of the challenges organisations have faced over the last year, and to help us to design and deliver workshops and other forms of support to our community partners.
In April, we hosted our first ‘community conversation’, where we brought together partners from Hackney and across East London, to discuss current challenges and ideas. When asked about the impact of the last year on staff wellbeing, ‘burnout’ came up many times, as well as the pressure of working extra hours without support, feeling isolated, and also feeling stuck in terms of how to help colleagues. We then discussed current priorities for our community partners, which ranged from providing more information sessions to staff on wellbeing related issues, to coaching support for leadership teams, as well as embedding staff wellbeing into organisational strategies.
Overall, while the session revealed some poignant truths about the current state of our sector, we came away with lots of different ideas as to how ELBA and our corporate volunteers may be able to help. To follow-up, we held our first workshop a couple of weeks later, entitled ‘How to beat stress & burnout’, run in partnership with the Wellbeing Network at UBS. Attendees came away with some practical tips and tools on how to acknowledge signs of burnout in the workplace, and how to address them. It was great to see how our corporate partners have been mobilising to raise awareness about mental health in their companies over the last few months, and we were very lucky to be able to share their learnings with our wider community.
This is just the start of our work to address the ongoing challenges to staff wellbeing in the charity sector, but we know it is important to do. We face another few months of uncertainty, and our communities need us more than ever before, but we know we won’t be able to be our best for others if we can’t look after ourselves. Additionally, we know we cannot do this alone, as wellbeing challenges have affected all of us over the past few months, and there needs to be a collaborative effort to provide support for the community. If you would like to get involved in our wellbeing support work, whether as a corporate volunteer or community partner, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.