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A four-day week pilot, a no-furlough promise and a Covid sick-pay scheme are just some of  the initiatives which have led forward-thinking businesses and inspirational individuals to  make the shortlist for the inaugural Make A Difference Awards. 

The awards, which are designed to thank the individuals and employers who have really made a difference to workplace mental health and wellbeing during a year like no other, are sponsored by Royal Mail and Optima Health. 

With just a few days to go until voting closes it is now up to the public to decide whether initiatives like an innovative mental health first aid training course, a company-wide kindness campaign or access to a virtual GP will get their vote. 

Voting closes at midnight on Tuesday, June 8th and you can vote in all five categories via the Make a Difference website. 

The categories are: Corporate (more than 250 employees); Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) with fewer than 250 employees; Public Sector/Charity; Unsung Hero and True Leader. 

Shortlisted in the Corporate category are UK supermarket chain Aldi, global affiliate network Awin and facilities management company Emcor UK, with online training company Circus Street and call intelligence tracker Infinity going head-to-head in the SMEs category. 

A Volunteer Support Line, time given for home-schooling and reduced appraisals are just  some of the initiatives which landed British Red Cross, Highways England and Sandwell  College, a further education establishment from the West Midlands, in the shortlist for the  Public Sector/Charity category.

Battling it out for the title of Unsung Hero are: Christine Howarth (Client Services & Mental Health Ambassador at Allen & Overy); Rachel Pears (Inclusion & Diversity Lead, Internal Employment Council at RPC) and Laura DeCook (Wellbeing Specialist at Expedia Group).  

Meanwhile David Henderson (Managing Director of Tobermore Concrete), Guru Gowrappan (CEO of Verizon Media) and Jonny Jacobs (Director of Commercial Finance EMEA, Starbucks) are up against one another for the True Leader gong. 

Dr Shaun Davis, Royal Mail’s Global Director of Compliance & Sustainability, said: “We were delighted with the response to these inaugural awards and were impressed with the innovative and inclusive initiatives that have evolved during what has been a difficult year for so many.” 

Simon Arnold, CEO of Optima Health added: “It has been inspiring to read of the ways individuals and businesses have adapted to the challenges of the past year and put the wellbeing of their employees at the top of the agenda. I applaud the work of everyone on the shortlist and hope they inspire others to follow in their footsteps.” 

Claire Farrow, Global Head of Content, Make A Difference Media said: “The pandemic has  made employers realise that if they care about their business, they need to care about the  mental health and wellbeing of their people. These awards recognise the hard work that  companies and individuals have done over the past year to bite the bullet and fast track  their long-term wellbeing strategies". 

Joining Dr Shaun Davis and Simon Arnold on the judging panel of the Make A Difference Awards were Claire Farrow, Dr Kamel Hothi OBE, non-executive Director of TLC Lions and Stacy Thomson, Founder of The Performance Club. 

The winners will be announced on International Make A Difference Day, Tuesday 15th June, from 4.00pm – 5.00pm during a free to attend webinar.  

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