Partner organisations from across the city were represented at our mental health first aid events at the end of March – bringing together people to talk about this vitally important issue for our health and care workforce.


The day at Leeds Art Gallery started with a ‘big chat’ with employers about the importance of mental health first aid and supporting employees at work. The discussion involved leaders from Leeds City Council, the academic, independent and third sectors, national bodies and health and care organisations. 

The event was opened by Dr Sara Munro, Chief Executive of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, who told her own story and why she believed that providing support and services for health and care staff was so vital.  Sheree Axon, Director of Leeds Health and Care Academy, Martha Clowes, Mindful Employer Coordinator for Leeds, and Julie Neethling, a mental health first aider from NHS England all contributed to the ‘big chat’ which was hosted by Chris Ingham, Head of Health and Safety at Leeds City Council and strategic lead for the work at the Leeds Health and Care Academy on improving working lives in Leeds. 

In the afternoon, workforce and trade union representatives from across Leeds, including those trained in mental health support, shared their experiences and ideas to launch a new, citywide network. The session of speakers and workshops was opened by Sheree Axon who told her personal story of why supporting the workforce is such a priority for the Academy. Contributors included Chris Ingham and Catherine Ward, Health Improvement Principal, Public Health Leeds. 

Chris said: “It was great to see people from many different organisations coming together to look at ways to further support our health and care workforce across the city. We look forward to strengthening this network for the future – the health and wellbeing of our workforce is vitally important.” 

Sheree said: “This was collaboration in action – partner organisations and people working together for the benefit of our staff and ultimately for the benefit of all Leeds citizens.  It reminded us of the skilled, enthusiastic and talented people in our workforce out there, supporting their colleagues in ways that are not always visible.”