Virgin Trains to invest £700,000 a year in mental and physical wellbeing support

Train operator Virgin Trains has signed the Time to Change pledge, committing to invest over £700,000 a year to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of its employees.

As part of the pledge, Virgin Trains has committed to educating more than 3,000 employees in how to recognise mental health issues in both colleagues and customers, including offering mental health first aid courses and appointing mental health champions.

Time to Change is an initiative by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, which focuses on supporting mental health. The campaign aims to improve public attitudes towards mental ill health via training, and by encouraging more individuals and businesses to talk about mental health.

As part of its commitment to the campaign, Virgin Trains has appointed two mental health champions from its board of directors. This is to ensure there is continued senior leader buy-in to support mental health issues, and so that the champions can advocate policies and agendas around mental health at board level.

Virgin Trains will also provide mental health first aid courses for all managers in order to better equip them to support team members who may have mental health problems. The organisation is looking to roll out the training courses to all employees in the future.

Virgin Trains celebrated becoming a signatory of the initiative by naming a train after the campaign.

Clare Burles, people director and executive mental health champion at Virgin Trains on the east coast, said: “We’re very proud to be making a public pledge to improve mental health in our business.

“At Virgin Trains we take the wellbeing of our employees and the customers who travel with us very seriously. That’s why […] we’ve created an entirely in-house health and wellbeing team, whose focus is on improving the mental wellbeing of our employees as well as their physical fitness for work.

“Our commitment to working with Time to Change underlines the importance of mental health not only for our own people but the rail industry as a whole. We’re proud to be leading the way.”