Uxbridge United Welfare Trust embrace the FLEX Approach

Belina GRoW have launched a new programme to help employers become more family-friendly by adopting a FLEX approach and influencing policy around the subject.  It is funded by Mayor of London, 3SC and European Social Fund and follows the Mayor’s Good Work Standard which brings together best employment practice and links to resources and support from across London to help employers improve their organisations. The initiative has been developed in collaboration with London’s employers, trade unions, professional bodies and experts.

Liz Sewell, Director of Belina GRoW said; “The FLEX Programme promotes flexible working, enhanced parental leave, and additional childcare provision to enable more equal sharing of work and childcare between men and women so that both can fulfil their potential at work. We are providing free training and resources to help employers create their own FLEX Policy and to help them assess each new job before they advertise it. We then follow up the training with specialist consultancy sessions to help employers adopt and champion family friendly working within their own organisation.

Dominic Gilham, CEO at Uxbridge United Welfare Trust who are the latest organisation to adopt the FLEX approach said; “We were really pleased to take part in the training and introduce a more joined up process with regards to flexible working in our organisation.  I’m a firm believer that staff welfare and wellbeing is paramount to a happy workforce which creates good outcomes and better results.  Anything we can do as an organisation to improve that makes perfect sense.  We currently have a mix of five full and part-time staff and following the training we all sat down and spoke about what we had learned and what we would change as a result.

We hadn’t previously been aware of the Childcare Deposit Policy and so this was something we immediately adopted as best practice as it has clear benefits to helping people into the workplace, especially women. As an organisation we pledged to cover 50% of the deposit ourselves and lend the remaining 50%.  We had discussions around health and wellbeing and had an honest and open conversation around how to minimise issues associated with menopause and perimenopause.

Our charity is 520 years old and I have been involved for ten of those years.  When I became CEO I put in a place a remote working premise and I have been hybrid working for eight years myself.  It means that as an organisation we already have a clear understanding about the benefits of flexible working and also how to ensure people are as productive as they can be.  We facilitate flexible working by ensuring our staff have the right tools and equipment to make it work effectively and efficiently as possible and are in the right environment to work well.  People can be very industrious when they are not in an office environment and they are comfortable in their workspace, even if this is at home.

We are only a small organisation but we have fully adopted these policies with just slight tweaks to tailor them to our individual needs and in full and open consultation and agreement with our staff. There is no point in putting any policy in place unless we get buy in from staff and they feel empowered. We have developed the policies together to ensure they will work for us and everyone is on board.

As a charity we have a large property portfolio including houses, shops, car parks and offices which we give to people who are facing disadvantage such as people escaping domestic abuse, sofa surfing or coming out of education and high school with a need for training opportunities.  We know it’s important to be adaptable and flexible and our new policies support that. We are pleased to be part of the FLEX programme and promote the importance of family-friendly policies to other employers so we can help people get into work and really make a difference.”

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