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Small Change Big Difference

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 8 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department and its agencies have taken following the launch of the Government's “Small Change Big Difference” Campaign. (72007)

The Department has a health and attendance management strategy that draws on the recommendations of the “Choosing health” White Paper, “Health, Work and Well-Being” document and “Small Change Big Difference Campaign (SCBD)”. In this context, we have recently delivered a number of initiatives to promote health and well being within the Department. These include:

Health Events on all of our sites to promote “5 a day” where literature on 5 a day was supplied by the Department of Health and this was distributed to staff along with free fruit. These events were well attended with around 50 per cent. of our staff participating;

Free pedometers have been made available to all staff along with literature supplied to us by the British Heart Foundation and Countryside Agency on the benefits of walking. Around half our staff have come forward to claim their pedometer and we plan to distribute more at future health events;

Yearly site health check events where staff are offered health literature, weight assessment, cholesterol tests, lung function and blood pressure tests. Our last events were held in October 2005;

The launch of our new smoking policy, shortly after National No Smoking Day (8/3/2006). This acted as a launch pad to announce that we will close all our smoking rooms, in line with the commitment that we have made to the Health Secretary to make DfES smoke free by the end of 2006. We have offered the services of our occupational health advisers to have initial discussions with staff about giving up smoking and we have distributed smoking cessation literature supplied to us by the Department of Health. We intend to provide focussed smoking cessation support to all staff who require it as we close down our smoking rooms on a phased site by site basis throughout 2006;

We have ensured that our catering contractor, Aramark, provides health options in the staff canteens including reducing salt levels in food, using semi skimmed milk, lowering fat content and vegetarian options;

Our two largest sites (London and Sheffield) have a gym available to all staff and all sites have exercise or well-being classes such as aerobics or yoga with the exception of Darlington (one of our smaller sites) where there was insufficient demand.

As the programme of work on SCBD develops, the Department of Health will be working across all of Government to ensure the programme joins up to promote maximum impact. DoH is leading the implementation for this initiative as part of its cross-Government commitment to deliver the public health White Paper “Choosing Health”.