Empanda launches Employee Wellbeing initiative

We are delighted to announce the launch of Empanda’s latest initiative in our ‘We Value You’ package of benefits for staff – Employee Wellbeing.

We believe that a supportive and happy work environment is critical to the success of any business and have recently appointed a part-time Employee Wellbeing Manager, Adele (pictured left), who will help us take this exciting new initiative forward and ensure that everyone we employ has access to a range of support and information to boost their mental and physical wellbeing.

Working in partnership with Norwich based workplace health provider Thriving Workplaces, who are commissioned by Norfolk County Council, we will be creating and developing a range of support, information, advice and initiatives specifically aimed at helping our staff teams to improve their mental and physical wellbeing and to help us create and maintain a happy, healthy workplace.

Based on the nationally recognised ‘Workplace Wellbeing Charter’ developed by UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England), Thriving Workplaces have adopted eight standards covering a range of topics and we have chosen three of these standards on which to focus – Mental Health and Wellbeing, Workplace Culture and Physical Activity.

To help shape our health and wellbeing plans, our first steps will be to complete a workplace health assessment with Thriving Workplaces and to roll out our anonymous 2022 Staff Survey, which will give staff the opportunity to answer some wellbeing related questions, the results of which will help the organisation understand and ultimately support their mental and physical wellbeing into the future. Adele is also keen to get out and about to speak with managers and staff across the organisation to share her plans and thoughts. More importantly, she will be listening to what our staff teams have to say to help her gain a greater understanding of ideas and expectations which in turn, will help shape and develop her role and our focus moving forward.

Over time, our aim is to recruit Wellbeing Champions across the business to support Adele and we are developing a suite of ‘wellbeing’ policies and guidance.

Sally Hanlin, Empanda’s managing director said, “We are really excited to be launching this new initiative as part of our ‘We value you’ suite of benefits because we recognise the importance of positive mental and physical wellbeing and the difference it can make in the workplace. Having a dedicated Employee Wellbeing Manager means we will be able to do so much more to support our greatest asset, our employees, and further demonstrates the importance we place on the wellbeing of our staff team. As a member of a local Credit Union, Eastern Savings & Loans, we already have a facility in place to support our staff and volunteers with their financial wellbeing. This new initiative not only complements what we already have in place but enables us to take a more holistic approach to wellbeing.”

Zak Collen from Thriving Workplaces added, “We’re very excited to be working with Empanda, who are not just committed to making a difference in the local community with care and support services, but to making a positive change for their employees too. From our initial conversations, it was clear that Empanda are focused on looking after their staff’s wellbeing and promoting awareness around both physical and mental health issues in the workplace. We’re looking forward to using our resources and experience to help train employees in various areas from Mental Health First Aid to Health Champion Courses. Furthermore, in helping to implement various policies and guidance to support Empanda’s already growing staff wellbeing offer and looking after their employee’s health further.”

click here to learn more about the support Thriving Workplaces can give to Norfolk based businesses.

Celebrating Volunteers’ Week – 2022

Each year, the first week of June marks Volunteers’ Week and a time to say thank you and to recognise the valuable contribution volunteers make within communities across the UK.

2022 celebrates the 38th annual Volunteers’ Week and is a particularly poignant as it also marks the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

During what has been another exceptionally difficult year, people from all walks of life around the UK have taken the time to volunteer and have made a huge difference to people and their communities – just as they do every year.

In 2021, intermittent periods of closure at our two day care centres (All Hallows in Ditchingham near Bungay and Brandon Day Centre) in line with strict government guidelines within the care environment, meant we were unable to accept visitors into our services, including volunteers. Fortunately, with restrictions eased, we are now getting back to normal and have been able once again, to welcome our team of volunteers.

Sally Hanlin, managing director said, “We continue to be indebted to our fantastic team of volunteers who give their time to support the customers using our services and our staff teams. We are delighted to be supporting Volunteers’ Week again this year – it gives us an opportunity to focus our attention on and to recognise the difference our volunteers make, not only within Empanda, but to the many people using our services, and for that we are truly grateful.”

Empanda’s Young People’s Services receive wellbeing and counselling top-up grant

Much needed counselling and wellbeing sessions tailored to the needs of the young people living at our Young People’s Services projects, are set to continue thanks to the generosity of the East of England Charity, Hopestead.

Hopestead, Flagship Group’s own charity, have been supporting Empanda since June 2021, when they awarded a Wellbeing and Counselling Grant of £5,000 enabling us to restart our exhausted Wellbeing and Counselling Fund (previously supported by Norfolk Community Foundation Trust). This latest award of £3,500 comes in the form of top-up funding to the initial grant received last summer.

At our three young people’s projects in North Norfolk, we provide a home to 26 homeless young people aged between 16-25 at any one time. Whilst they are with us, we support them to gain the skills needed to live independently and then support them to move on to live in more independent accommodation. To help the smooth transition into independent living, good mental health is vitally important as it helps give the stability they need to enable them to maintain their tenancy into the future.

Access to counselling and mental health services is at crisis point, with waiting lists through the local NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) being months or longer and GPs are only able to offer a telephone wellbeing service, also with a long waiting list. Many of the young people using our services have experienced some type of trauma in the past, often family related which has had a lasting impact on their mental health, wellbeing and sense of worth.

This funding will allow more of our young people the opportunity to get the support they need through specialist privately funded 1:1 counselling and in-house therapy sessions which, thanks to the original grant, many are already benefiting from.

Julia Everson, Head of Operations at Hopestead said, “We know that it is only through working together that we can make homelessness a rare, brief, and non-reoccurring event in people’s lives. Through our Hope Funds grant scheme, we are proud to support the great initiatives provided by our partners, like Empanda’s Counselling & Wellbeing Grant that makes such a vital difference to young people in our community and alleviates homelessness in our region.”

Fiona Raison, Manager of Empanda’s Young People’s Services said, “Hopestead’s grants for our Counselling and Wellbeing Fund is invaluable to our Empanda YPS residents. Many of our young people suffer from poor mental wellbeing as well as PTSD and other issues. We are so grateful to be able to offer them this essential help that would otherwise be unavailable.”

click here to find out more about the invaluable projects Hopestead is supporting.

Empanda celebrates its 6th Anniversary

Today marks Empanda’s sixth Anniversary. We can’t believe how the time has flown – it seems like only yesterday we were a fledgling organisation embarking on our new venture.

We are indebted to our fantastic staff team, our volunteers and our Board. Through their hard work, unwavering support and dedication, they continue to make a huge difference to the lives of so many people every day and without doubt, have played a major part in Empanda’s success. We would also like to thank the many partners with whom we work.

We are very much looking forward to continuing our journey together and to seeing what this coming year brings.

Day Care customers receive a special Christmas gift

Bryan and Karen

Every customer using Empanda’s day care service at All Hallows will be receiving a special gift this Christmas thanks to the generosity of the Bungay Area Lions.

Centre Manager, Linda Robinson, had written to the Lions to ask whether they would be able to make a donation of £200 towards the purchase of a gift for those using the day care service and was absolutely delighted to receive £400 – double the amount!

A huge thank you to Bungay Area Lions Chair, Jane Gardiner and her fantastic team of fundraisers for your very generous donation and for bringing such joy to each and every one of our All Hallows customers – you have made such a difference and for that we are truly grateful.


Christmas Lights Display raises money for All Hallows Day Centre

Milestone Lane in Earsham, near Bungay, has once again been transformed into a Winter Wonderland this Christmas thanks to an amazing light display at the home of villager Keith Penn.

Keith’s display is raising money in aid of All Hallows Day Centre in the nearby village of Ditchingham, where Empanda delivers a service for older people with different levels of care and support needs offering therapeutic day care and an opportunity to have fun, socialise and take part in activities whilst giving family carers a well-earned break.

Keith started his annual Christmas light display back in 2007/8 which won him the Best Light Display in the Village Award and a prize of £20 from Earsham Parish Council (an award he has subsequently won on two further occasions), which he added to the £30 raised from donations that year.

Over the years, as people have become more aware of Keith’s display and make the trip to see it for themselves, his annual fundraising total has grown steadily from the initial £30 to an amazing £600 raised in 2020/21.

Ursula, Keith’s mother, attended the day care service at All Hallows once a week in 2005/6. When it was suggested that Keith should raise money for charity from his light display, this gave him the idea of donating to All Hallows Day Centre where his mother had enjoyed spending time. To date, he has raised just over £3,000, which includes proceeds from his tombola stall at the annual Earsham summer fete in 2019.

Putting on such a display is no mean feat, with preparations starting as early as October, when Keith draws up plans to show where everything will go. He then takes the lights and displays down from the loft during the first week in November when the mammoth task of installation begins in readiness for the 1 December ‘switch on’.

The amazing display includes 270 separate pieces, ranging from 1,000 lights in a single piece, to about 20 lights in the smaller pieces, such as the animals. Altogether, there are 42,443 bulbs and 270 plugs.

Keith said, “It’s always a pleasure putting the lights up – not so much taking them down because everything needs to be dismantled and dried off before being boxed up and returned to the loft. I usually complete this process by the end of the first week in February and then adjust my plans for the following year. It’s so dark after the lights come down which seems really strange, but it’s very rewarding to hear the positive comments from people, particularly the children, some of whom draw pictures and post them with their donations. I hope to continue with my display for the foreseeable future and thank everyone for their support and taking the trouble to comment.”

All Hallows Day Centre Manager, Linda Robinson said, “We can’t thank Keith enough for the money he has raised for our day care service over the last 15 years, and for all his hard work in creating these fabulous Christmas light displays. I really get a lot of pleasure in going to see Keith’s lights every year, his display is truly amazing.”

She added, “We have been able to buy so many things to help keep our day centre customers stimulated and active, including iPads, Alexa Shows and a Nintendo Wii. Some of the money has been used to take people on outings, and to have visitors to the Centre including Minidonks (miniature donkeys for wellbeing) and The Owl Sanctuary. The money has also enabled us to book many live entertainers over the years and our equipment cupboard has been regularly replenished with therapeutic and fun activities, all thanks to Keith’s generosity, for which we are truly grateful.”

“A special ‘thank you’ also goes to each and every member of the community who go along to enjoy the lights and generously donate and to previous sponsor Clean & Dry Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services in Bungay who continue to make a small donation towards the light display.

For anyone wanting to visit the display at Woodcroft in Milestone Lane, it is open each year from 1 December through to 5/6 January. People can enjoy the display daily from 3.45pm to 10.00pm, with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day when the lights are on from 11.00am – midnight.

Empanda supports Big C at Christmas

We would like to say a huge thank you to the Empanda staff team who voted to support Big C Cancer Charity with money saved by sending an e-Christmas card instead of buying and posting traditional paper cards. Staff were again given the opportunity to nominate a charity/charities close to their own hearts, and the Big C received the most votes making it the outright winner, which is fitting as we recently lost a friend and colleague from our Learning Disabilities service to cancer and we have another in our day care team going through treatment at the moment.

We are delighted to be able to send a £200 donation which has meant so much to the charity.

Megan, from the Big C fundraising team said, “It is lovely to hear that you have chosen to support Big C this Christmas. At Big C we know that cancer can affect us all in many different ways, we see first-hand the impact it has on individuals, families and friends; and this year our support services have been needed more than ever before. However, through the support of people like yourselves, Big C can continue to ensure local people get the best in cancer care.

Your support will enable us to reach more people through our centres in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Kings Lynn, Cromer, Thetford, Wells and the Pear Tree Hospice, as well as helping us to build our new centre in the heart of Norwich, to ensure we can continue to provide a range of support services to all those affected by cancer, and funding vital research projects into cancer at the Norwich Research Park.

Thank you once again for your generous support in helping to make a local difference.

Together we are improving the lives of those affected by cancer.”

Click here to find out more about the tremendous work being done every day at the Big C and how you can help support them.

Season’s Greetings

At the end of what has been another difficult and challenging year for everyone, we would like to wish our Empanda customers, website visitors, our partners, supporters, suppliers, colleagues, family and friends good health and much joy at Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Thank you for your support this year and we look forward to working with you again in 2022.

Empanda becomes Credit Union Partner

Empanda has signed up to become a payroll partner with Eastern Savings & Loans and from today, all employees and volunteers can benefit from Eastern Savings & Loans credit union membership.

A credit union is a financial co-operative which provides savings, loans and a range of financial services. Membership includes an easy access savings account, online and telephone banking, and free life and loan insurance. As a co-operative all members can share in the profits.

All savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to the same level of protection as a high street bank or building society. Eastern Savings & Loans offer loans from £500 – £4,000 and interest rates are very competitive and with no fees, or charges for early or additional repayments. Employees can make loan repayments and save all in one easy payment, via Payroll deduction or standing order.

Empanda’s MD Sally Hanlin said, “We already have a comprehensive ‘We Value You’ package of benefits in place and are delighted to be adding Eastern Savings & Loans credit union and the valuable services they can offer our colleagues to enhance the package.”

You can find out more about Eastern Savings & Loans Credit Union by visiting the Eastern Savings & Loans website.


From small acorns …

In April this year, we were delighted to be celebrating our 5th Anniversary and Empanda colleagues and customers have contributed to a review which highlights Empanda’s key milestones in our first five years.

click here to read our story – we hope you enjoy it.