Considerable amounts of information have been disseminated about the Health for Work Adviceline, the organisation that funds it (Department for Work & Pensions) and the organisation that manages it (NHS Plus, now Syngentis). But what about the contact centre that helps us deliver the helpline side of the service and the multi-channel service (‘ask a question’, ‘live chat’, etc.)?
This essential part of our service is provided by Connect Assist, a social enterprise based in Nantgarw (Wales). The managing director, Patrick Nash, has led a varied work life inspired by his desire to combine his commercial skills with his altruistic streak. Before setting up Connect Assist, Mr Nash had been involved in a number of exciting projects, including:
- setting up a successful whole food wholesale business (Essential Trading), which is now the third largest workers’ cooperative in the UK in terms of turnover;
- spending 12 years with the Findhorn Foundation building an eco-village near Inverness;
- running the Dalai Lama’s UK charity for two years;
- acting as Chief Executive of the Teacher Support Network, a welfare fund for the teaching profession.
He set up Connect Assist after attempting to outsource elements of the counselling service offered by the Teacher Support Network to organisations whose service he found to be lacking. The decision to set Connect Assist up in Nantgarw was based on a desire to create jobs in an area that had talented people but insufficient opportunities for them and the social enterprise is now one of the highest job creators in Wales.
Connect Assist now offers contact centre support for a variety of organisations, mainly charities and public sector organisations, including:
- The Teacher Support network (welfare fund for the teaching profession);
- Turn2Us (a charity dedicated to alleviating poverty);
- The Royal British Legion (support for people formerly/currently in the armed forces, and their families).
Connect Assist and the Health for Work Adviceline have been working in partnership since November 2011. Up until that point, the successful pilot phase had been based on a website offering relevant content and a telephone helpline manned by occupational health advisers around the country. Our collaboration with Connect Assist has allowed us to take the service we offer up to the next level by offering a multi-channel service incorporating:
- phone contact;
- online advice (in the form of an online knowledge base);
- ‘live chat’ (a real-time online conversation with a Connect Assist adviser);
- ‘ask a question’ (email a question to the Connect Assist advisers).
Where it is deemed necessary, callers will receive a second tier of phone support in the shape of occupational health practitioners who can speak directly with callers. For more information on Connect Assist, see a recent article on their activities that appeared on Wales Online. Or, to see what’s available from the Health for Work Adviceline, take a look at our website or call 0800 0 77 88 44 with any employee health-related queries.