The Benefits of Chamber Membership by the Chief Executive of Richmond Borough Mind, Val Farmer

There are many benefits to Richmond Borough Mind being a member of Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The most important is the network of contacts and business directory the Chamber provides, enabling us to communicate effectively with other organisations in the borough. Right now, national statistics show 1 in 6 workers is experiencing depression, anxiety and stress and £26 billion is lost to British employers each year because of mental ill health in the workplace. We believe mental health is a central concern to the business community. Through the Chamber’s range of networking events and seminars we have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with employers and promote open discussions about work related stress and other mental health issues. This has the dual effect of giving us a platform to promote the importance of mental health and how our services can support local employers, and also keeps us up to date with the mental health needs of local businesses.

Recently we ran an anti-stigma campaign, the centrepiece of which was a seminar for employers in association with the Chamber and Zac Goldsmith MP. The aim was to enable local businesses to better understand the types and incidence of mental health, and how to support people when they encounter mental health issues in their workplace. The Chamber actively promoted this to employers and really helped us to attract delegates. Just as important was Zac Goldsmith undertaking to raise the issue of workplace mental health in parliament. Not so long ago mental health was an issue many people, including politicians and key decision makers did not regard as a priority. Now, with the added support of the Time to Change Campaign, we are moving to a situation where people across society will talk openly about their mental health and so in turn government is beginning to raise the issue at a policy level. Local seminars make an important contribution to this change.

Our membership of the Chamber is also important to us internally. From mentoring to communications, from fundraising to recruitment, the kinds of courses, workshops, and masterclasses the Chamber offers means we are able to access useful sources of information helping us to maintain a professional service for our service users. The
importance of this kind of support for our staff and volunteers is invaluable and we are always looking for ways to extend our relationship with the Chamber in the future.

Val Farmer
Chief Executive
Richmond Borough Mind