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Rugby legend hosts live bootcamp for Thames Water

Thursday 21st May 2020 11:00

Sam Warburton hosting a remote workout session on a laptop screen.

Former Lions captain Sam Warburton OBE hosted a live online bootcamp workout today for Thames Water as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Exercise is proven to have a positive impact on depression and anxiety, relieves stress and boost overall mood.

The heart-pumping session, arranged with the water company’s partners Gympass, saw the legendary rugby player on screen for a 30-minute lunchtime mobility workout, and was available for all employees of all levels of fitness.

Thames Water has seen one mental health intervention per day during the coronavirus lockdown and has been investing in long-term support by training staff in mental health first aid skills. More than one in 600 employees have been trained as mental health first aiders since the company’s strategy launched in 2015.

Karl Simons, chief health, safety and wellbeing officer at Thames Water, said: “The impact coronavirus is having on our teams is huge. This means that now, more than ever, we have a duty of care to support our staff.

“Getting active through regular exercise is crucial in keeping your mental health in good shape and getting creative in how we inspire and motivate our teams during times like this goes a long way in keeping spirits high, and also making everyone feel valued and connected.”

Karl added: “We saw the benefits of mental health first aid long before lockdown and since the introduction of social distancing our mental health first aiders have quickly adapted the support they provide. Now, with around 50 per cent of the company working from home, people can still come forward, talk and seek support at their time of need.

“We see roughly one mental health intervention every day, which means we are able to offer the vital early support our people need to remain in work.”

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, the social enterprise offering expert guidance and training to support mental health in the workplace and beyond, said it has seen a spike of almost 75,000 people accessing its mental health resources since March 2020. It has reported a 50% year-on-year uplift in people seeking guidance from its website.

It is calling on all employers to follow Thames Water and build a mental health and wellbeing strategy in line with the core standard for employers set out in the Government’s Thriving at Work review. These standards include raising mental health awareness and encouraging conversation about the support available.

Simon Blake OBE, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, said: “We are proud to be able to support the nation’s mental health during this current crisis.

“People’s mental health is being impacted by this pandemic and those who are struggling need to feel comfortable in speaking up. In turn managers must feel confident in having those conversations with colleagues and signposting them to further help.

“Now is the time to ensure mental health is at the top of the boardroom agenda for the sake of every individual’s wellbeing and for the continued survival and fight back of businesses and the economy.”

MHFA England’s online courses will help ensure Thames Water’s mental health first aiders, wherever they are working, feel confident giving support and reassurance to staff who are experiencing difficulties brought on by the pandemic.

Online refresher training will also empower people during this period, but also allow them to connect and have open and informal discussions with peers, just as a face-to-face course would. For more information visit:

Sam Warburton is a former international rugby union player, who represented the Cardiff Blues, Wales, and the British and Irish Lions. He founded SW7 Academy, an online training program, to support people in learning the correct movement patterns, improve physique and advance overall athletic capability.