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Men’s Health Awareness Month at Environment Agency

Category: Industry News, Awareness days, Mental Health Awareness Week


Cancer, communication and wellbeing at the Environment Agency

Bob Branson is the director for Finance Operations at the Environment Agency. He is also living with prostate cancer. As I chat to him about Men’s Health Awareness Month, I am struck by how keen he is to define his circumstance in those terms. He doesn’t usethe usual ‘suffering from’ phrase which often precedesany reference tothe disease.This distinction is important. As is health and wellbeing across the organisation.

A culture of support and openness

Bob is also clearly proud to work somewhere which is progressive in how it supports the health of its staff. He’s quick to talk up the value of the Environment Agency’s owninternal Cancer Network which was established in 2017.

“Anyone can make a call to the network,” he tells me.“They might have received a diagnosis themselves or they might have a loved one who is living with cancer. The network can connect them to other colleagues who have had similar experiences.” He continues, “perhaps to be better informed about treatment choices or to deal with the psychological and mental anguish that comes with it.”

Driving awareness within the organisation

The Cancer Network is central to a number of events taking place within Environment Agency offices up and down the country for Men’s Health Awareness Month. Some are sponsoring their moustache growth for ‘Movember’.Others are taking part in baking competitions.And Bob is working with the network to deliver a webinar about prostate cancer – the most common form of cancer among men.

“I was confirmed to have prostate cancer a couple of years ago,” he tells me. “The good news is that it is very small and there are plenty of different options for dealing with it. I am currently under active surveillance to monitor the growth of the cancer, delaying an operation in the hope that other less invasive treatments might be found by the time I need to do something.”

The importance of wellbeing among staff and leaders

The network itself and the accompanying events taking place this month highlight just how important health and wellbeing has become across all levels of the Environment Agency.Social and political change is responsible for many new pressures, challenges and stresses placed on the staff that work there. It is also clearly having a positive impact on wellbeing provision for employees.

“Leadership are taking health of staff here very seriously – in just the past five years I have seen significant change,” Bob says. “Wellbeing is now one of our three key work priorities alongside EU Exit and delivery of environmental outcomes.We all need to be comfortable enough to be honest and speak up.After all, it is better for our productivity to have a happy and healthy team.”

Learn more about the support the Environment Agency provides to their staff, and the opportunities to work with them here. The Agency currently employs people across England in diverse teams from scientists through planners and policy advisors. There are opportunities to join their teams at all stages of your career, from apprentices, to graduates, leaders or experts.

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