Hello PPMA friends

At this time of year it’s as important as ever to take care of yourself as well as others and Hannah Bornet, Wellbeing Manager at the Financial Ombudsman Service and PPMA Let’s Talk Wellbeing Deputy Theme lead shares some great tips on how to do this.

“It feels only right that this post refers to 3 out of the 5 ways to wellbeing: give, connect and take notice. Although this is the season to be jolly, sometimes it doesn’t always feel like it. With the cold weather, dark mornings (and early evenings!) and pressure to attend so many events, meet deadlines and stay healthy, it can all be too much. But there is light, in the form of nature, candles, blankets and hot chocolate. Hygge is a great Danish concept which is all to do with being in the moment and feeling cosy and content. Whether this is with friends, or on your own, you can relish and give thanks to your situation and surroundings. Plus it’s a great way to counteract busy December and drab January. So give to yourself this festive season and mark out some hygge time.

The great thing about this time of year too is the abundance of giving to others – the good that people do to raise awareness and funds for so many important causes is so wonderful to see. When you get your 5th request to donate, before you grit your teeth or heave a large sigh, think about what you would spend that same amount on – £5 lunch, £10 for a couple of coffees each week…plus you get to feel good about yourself for doing something great. It is not all about giving money, you can donate to foodbanks or clothes appeals, but perhaps even more powerful, you can give your time. Here at Financial Ombudsman Service we held a community event for elderly community groups of Tower Hamlets to come along for afternoon tea and games. The band went down a storm, as did the sandwiches which made it into pockets and bags if they weren’t consumed on the spot. We had 15 volunteers from the organisation to help run the afternoon and talk to the lovely people who had made an effort to come and visit us. The sheer buzz and delight of the event ended in everyone heading to the ‘dancefloor’ for a little boogie. It’s safe to say both community members and employees left with big grins on their faces and feeling satisfied. We are so grateful for the virtuosity of our staff – what a way to connect to our community!

For some people, however, this time of year brings poignancy to the absence of family and friends. At the ombudsman we are conscious of the impact of loneliness on people’s mental and physical health. We have taken notice of this and signed the government’s employer Loneliness pledge to make sure we are tackling loneliness in our workplace and would encourage other organisations to consider signing up too. Our sports and social committee arrange a variety of events throughout the year which encourages people who haven’t yet made connections at work to come along and meet new people. We have seen an increase in individuals signing up over the last 6 months as the popularity of the events spread.

We see people at work every day so are potentially the only people around to spot whether someone needs a little lift – buy a coffee or invite them for a drink. Or even more simply make sure you take the time to acknowledge them and the contribution they are making to the organisation. PPMA are running an online PPMA Advent calendar throughout December to share good spirits and joy as far as we can and reach out to some of those who may not look forward to this time of year. Across the country, public sector workers are taking notice and connecting with colleagues by telling someone how much they matter and saying ‘it’s wonderful knowing you’. Check out our social media for the details and do get involved.

It really is #wonderfulknowingyou all. Have a lovely Christmas.

Hannah Bornet, Wellbeing Manager, Financial Ombudsman Service and PPMA Let’s Talk Wellbeing Deputy Theme.