“The wellbeing of every single person at Whipps is massively important”
We spoke to Claire and Jonathan from the wellbeing team about their role, highlights from their work and being recognised Star of the Month.
1. Hi Claire and Jonathan, would you like to tell us a bit more about your role in the wellbeing team.
Claire: My role is to oversee implementation of the whole programme of different wellbeing interventions for everybody who works at Whipps. We have a trust-wide wellbeing strategy at Barts Health, so we make sure that we are implementing that strategy in a way that is appropriate to the needs of the people who work here. I’m also trying to make sure that our approach is inclusive, and really ensuring that our people access our wellbeing offer and services and that is really clear that they are available to everybody and the wellbeing of every single person here at Whipps is massively important.
Jonathan: I am part of Claire’s team and I support her delivering the wellbeing strategy for the hospital. I see my role here as being supportive of all staff and vols on site looking at health and wellbeing in the most holistic way, that’s psychological, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual. Anything that can help them to thrive at work.
2. How did you start you career in the NHS and the health sector?
Claire: I’ve worked for Barts Health for about 18 years. My first job here was as UNICEF baby friendly coordinator for the community services in Tower Hamlets. Before that, I worked in the civil service and I gave up my life as a management consultant because I wanted to feel that I was making a much more positive contribution to society and my local community.
I trained as breastfeeding supporter and I became really interested in how we could support mothers and new families better, and that’s how I came into that role which I did for about seven years. I then moved on from that into more general improvement roles, I moved into service transformation, quality improvement, I’ve also worked in communications, trust strategy and more recently on wellbeing.
All of this experience and roles has helped because I know lots of people and I think I can empathise well with the sorts of roles that people do and the kind of support they might need to thrive.
Jonathan: My entire NHS career has been with Barts Health. I joined the Trust two and a half years ago and within that short time, I’ve worked in three of the five hospitals. I started at St Bartholomew’s as hospitaller which was a hybrid role, so half time hospital chaplain and half time as a social priest in the church. Then I moved into full time chaplaincy at the Royal London and then here at Whipps in the wellbeing team. I’ve been at Whipps Cross since August 2022.
For most of my adult life, I’ve always wanted to do something with my career that involves helping or supporting people. Throughout my whole life I’ve been in and out hospitals, due to ill health of relatives who have had quite a long-term illness so I’m no stranger to hospitals since I was born and all throughout my childhood. It feels like a very familiar place and somewhere I feel quite comfortable to be in.
3. What do you enjoy the most about working at Whipps Cross?
Claire: Whipps Cross feels like a family and I’ve been fortunate enough as I needed some support for personal reasons in the last month and coming back to work here it really felt like returning to a warm family embrace. I like the way people can combine being very professional and serious about their work and be genuinely friendly and connect at a very human level.
The other thing I like about here is the opportunity to exercise as it’s a massive hospital campus and I get to cycle here and whenever I move around it’s easy to get a lot of steps count just by walking around.
Jonathan: The people, everybody here is very friendly and warm and it’s a very nice ethos and atmosphere I find working here.
I also like the movement because I get a sense of wellbeing by moving and walking and having those pockets of time throughout the day where I can have a time to think, concentrate, breathing and walking around. I also see that as part of my daily wellbeing practice.
One of the things that also interested me about Whipps is the redevelopment of the hospital so it seems like an exciting time to be here reimagining the hospital and the spaces. It feels good to be part of the redevelopment.
4. How you feel about receiving the Star of the Month award?
Claire: It’s really exciting and it was lovely to see the nomination. The winter at Whipps festival was an idea to give bit of a boost to a tired workforce at the end of a challenging year while staying true to our concept of wellbeing and including social wellbeing so bringing people together to connect and boost feelings of wellbeing by human interaction. It was good to be recognise for working really hard to develop an inclusive programme.
This nomination should also be for other people in the hospital who contributed to the planning and running of the festival so this award is for them as well.
Jonathan: It’s good to be recognised, and an important part of wellbeing is feeling value, feeling seeing, feeling like you belong and being recognised is a real honour and it’s very nice to feel recognised for that.