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Congratulations to AW Hainsworth!

AW Hainsworth is an English textile manufacturing company, based in Stanningley, West Yorkshire.

AW Hainsworth has been awarded Leeds Mindful Employer Network Member of the Quarter following the anonymous nomination below.

“I have been so impressed by AW Hainsworth’s creative approach to challenging stigma and normalising conversations about mental health over the last year. As an employer with a diverse workforce, undertaking a variety of roles, they’ve taken clear steps to ensure that the strategies and actions they are putting in place are inclusive and accessible and reflect the needs of all staff. They are an employer that clearly cares about not just their employees, but their families as well. They put in place regular opportunities to get people talking about mental health and thinking about ways to improve their wellbeing and it’s clear that this organisation has really prioritised raising awareness about mental health and facilitating routes to getting effective support.”

Mindful Employer Project Coordinator, Leigh Staunton, has been chatting to AW Hainsworth’s HR Manager, Charlotte Dudill, about their approach to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their employees.

Charlotte, congratulations to AW Hainsworth on being awarded our Mindful Employer of the Quarter. How does it feel to read the nomination?

I’m very proud that AW Hainsworth has received this nomination. We’ve all worked really hard to create an open and honest culture around mental health, and to make colleagues feel comfortable talking about something that hasn’t really been addressed in the business before. It’s especially fantastic to have received this nomination as a manufacturing company, as typically there’s been a real stigma around mental health in the industry. I’m excited to see how we can progress even further on our mental health and wellbeing journey in 2024.

AW HW blog scaled

Tell us a bit more about you and AW Hainsworth.

AW Hainsworth is a woollen mill that’s been weaving high-quality textiles since 1783., Most famously, we make the bright scarlet uniform cloth worn by the guards outside Buckingham Palace. I joined Hainsworth as HR Manager in 2022 right at the beginning of the mill’s journey towards mental health awareness, and I was thrilled to be helping the business to take these first steps. I’m really passionate about supporting mental wellbeing at work and have been throughout the 10 years I’ve been working in HR.

Why is staff wellbeing and mental health a priority at AW Hainsworth?

Employee wellbeing is a top priority for AW Hainsworth because we want staff to know that the business cares for and values them. We do this by providing employees with the tools and facilities to manage their mental wellbeing at work, for example by holding mental health discussions and counselling sessions onsite that we encourage staff to attend during works time.
Personally, it gives me a huge sense of achievement to know that AW Hainsworth is supporting employees’ mental health at a time when they may need it the most.

Tell us about ways you are embedding a positive approach to mental health at work?

I believe the most important way to improve mental health awareness in a workplace is to encourage open conversation. Last year we began a partnership with Unmasked Mental Health, who host monthly mental health and wellbeing sessions at the mill that anyone is free to attend. We also have a counsellor regularly come onsite to hold private one-on-one appointments with anyone who needs them. These initiatives are designed to encourage our staff to get talking about mental health, and to break down the stigma that can be found in workplace environments – especially typically male-dominated ones like manufacturing.

We now have 25 employees – 10% of our workforce – trained as Mental Health First Aiders. This means that they’re trained to identify signs someone may be struggling mentally and how they can help them find support.

In addition to this, we also have ongoing employee engagement initiatives to show employees we value their work. Our staff running group, the Hainsworth Harriers, have also been meeting once a week to encourage exercise at every fitness level.

Have will you know your approach is working?

We’ve been tracking the percentage of staff attending counselling sessions and the Unmasked Mental Health meetings, and the numbers have been very positive. We’re also analysing the reasons reported for staff absence and if they relate to mental health. It’s not a fool proof method, but it’s providing a good indicator that our approach is encouraging a more open discussion about mental health across the business.

Why did AW Hainsworth decide to sign the national Mindful Employer charter?

We thought this would give us a great opportunity to engage with and learn from our employees. It’s also a chance for us to not only share Hainsworth’s best practices with other companies but to learn from them in return, so that we can all work together to improve staff wellbeing across the region.

What are you most proud of in AW Hainsworth’s workplace wellbeing journey so far?

I think that reaching that benchmark of having 10% of our staff signed up as Mental Health First Aiders was a really important milestone for me. The fact that 25 employees devoted their own time to learning more about mental health and how they can support their colleagues really speaks to the kindness and community our people show towards each other.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the Leeds Mindful Employers Network?

Go for it! As I said, it’s an excellent opportunity to share best practice with other businesses, and it provides some great guidance on how you can get the conversation started in your own workplace. The more companies sign up, the more we can all make a real change and create a happier, healthier and more engaged workforce.

What are your priorities for the next 12 months?

It’s important to me that we keep developing our mental health strategy even further. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished so far but there’s always room for us to grow and improve. As part of this strategy we want to start focusing more closely at exercise and physical health and how these can benefit employee wellbeing. Just because we’ve started a discussion about mental health, it doesn’t mean we can sit back and leave it at that – we need to keep the conversation going.

Thank you to Charlotte for contributing to this blog.

Find out more about Leeds Mindful Employer Network on our web page, or contact