Our CEO, Justine Hodgkinson, has won the Excellence in Engagement Award at this year's North West Employee Engagement Group Awards 2018 (NWEEG Awards).

Justine was nominated by her peers for the significant impact she has had upon the culture and engagement at Advocacy Focus in her four years as CEO.

Justine came to Advocacy Focus with a real passion for looking after employees’ health and wellbeing and has completely transformed our culture to a supportive and collaborative environment, where every member of staff feels valued and listened to.

With mental health at the heart of her employee engagement agenda, Justine has spearheaded the implementation of our Health and Wellbeing Policy and our Time to Change team, which actively works to reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

She has also implemented employee friendly initiatives such as peer support, flexible working, childcare schemes, discretionary leave, birthday leave and lots more that has led to a huge improvement in staff satisfaction and morale. She openly supports working parents and those who are living with mental illness.

She was also behind the recent ‘All Fine Hotline,’ a new hotline for staff to speak and offload to a manager out of hours if they are feeling stressed or upset.

Justine’s caring nature has seen her campaign for better mental health services and better acceptance of mental health in the workplace, in the past this has seen her take to a much bigger stage. She often performs talks and has previously spoken on these matters for organisations such as MIND and local colleges/businesses.

Justine also uses her position as CEO to highlight relevant causes and campaigns that impacts employees' health and wellbeing, such as the perimenopause – a topic that she feels is important to Advocacy Focus’ 80% female workforce.

Before joining Advocacy Focus in 2014, Justine worked as Head of the Universal Bookstart Programme for the national charity, Booktrust.

Justine made the move from private sector to social/third sector around 15 years ago, when she realised her real motivation for work was to reach out to the those sectors of society that struggle to have a voice.

In her words, Justine says:

Advocacy means that some of the most marginalised people have someone in their corner to enable them to speak up about their care and treatment in health and social care matters. I know from my own personal experience when my mum was diagnosed with dementia nine years ago, how hard it is for family members to work through the minefield of legislation and protocols to access the appropriate services and support.  At what is, by definition, an incredibly stressful time for everybody concerned. Had I known that advocacy support was available to me at the time and what that support could achieve, it would have made a significant difference to my mum and to our family.

Congratulations to Justine from all the team at Advocacy Focus!