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Health, Work and Well-being: A study of the Co-ordinator and Challenge Fund initiatives

Following the publication of Working for a Healthier Tomorrow by Dame Carol Black in 2008, two initiatives were set up by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP):

• start-up funding for the employment of 11 Health, Work and Well-being Co-ordinators in Scotland, Wales and the nine English Regions; and
• a Health, Work and Well-being Challenge Fund to provide funding for initiatives to improve workplace health and welfare.

The Co-ordinators’ role was aimed at developing partnerships between employment and health networks, co-ordinating health, work and well-being strategies and activities within and across regions and countries, and promoting best practice and innovation within firms (including via the Challenge Fund). The Challenge Fund was aimed at small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and local partnerships to encourage initiatives to improve workplace health and well-being through innovative approaches which ensured worker engagement.

A research study was conducted between 2009 and 2012 to explore the impacts of these initiatives with a particular emphasis on engagement with SMEs and addressing the issue of mental health. Interviews were held with Health, Work and Well-being Co-ordinators, senior NHS public health officials, and policy makers within the DWP. A survey of 59 Challenge Fund winners and a survey of 279 organisations that had been in contact with the Co-ordinators were carried out. In-depth case studies of 12 Challenge Fund winners were also undertaken. Data collection commenced in February 2010 and was completed in October 2011.

A significant contextual factor that affected the work of the Co-ordinators in England was the announcement in 2010 of the restructuring of public health responsibilities in England.