PD Ports, owner and operator of Teesport and one of the largest port groups in the UK, has partnered with Middlesbrough-based charity Recovery Connections, a Lived Experience Recovery Organisation (LERO), to provide wellbeing guidance for its employees nationwide.

The new partnership will allow for a new, dedicated member of staff employed by Recovery Connections to be based on site, primarily at Teesport, as a point of contact for any employees.

The aim of the collaboration is to provide a comfortable, safe space to share concerns, gather advice and seek help should anyone at PD Ports, or someone they know, experience problematic substance use issues.

Frans Calje, CEO at PD Ports, explained that this partnership comes at the perfect time following a prolonged period of uncertainty and stresses caused by the pandemic, coupled with the pressures that can come over the festive period.

“The health, happiness and wellbeing of our people is of paramount importance across PD Ports,” explained Frans.

“We recognise that people have already had a difficult time over the last couple of years as a result of the pandemic and prolonged periods of lockdown. It’s also not uncommon for people to find the festive period quite difficult depending on personal situations and that’s why we’re delighted to be able to embark on this first-of-its-kind partnership with Recovery Connections to offer an outlet of support.

“Whilst we operate an incredibly flat management style and are proud of our open and honest culture, we do appreciate that it can be difficult for people to disclose that they are suffering with substance use to their employer. We hope that through our dedicated contact at Recovery Connections, we are able to bridge that gap and ensure our people have access to all the support they might need.”

The partnership is a first for Recovery Connections, which aims to enable people to live their lives free from stigma and discrimination. Dot Smith, CEO, explained how they hope it will become a catalyst for other businesses to follow suit and place greater emphasis on staff support and wellbeing.

“We’re delighted to officially announce this positive new partnership with PD Ports,” said Dot.

“Not only will it support people within the organisation, who may need extra support, it can also help to reduce the chance of losing invaluable experience and skills from the workforce, unnecessarily.

“We recognise that substance use can pose a threat to workplace culture and productivity, but with the correct procedures and support in place there is always the opportunity to create positive outcomes for everyone involved. We hope this partnership will inspire other industry leaders to implement similar, forward-thinking initiatives.”

Whilst primarily based in the Tees Valley, once in post the dedicated coordinator will also travel to all 12 PD Ports sites nationwide.

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, commended PD Ports and Recovery Connections on the collaboration. He said: “This is an important initiative with Recovery Connections which demonstrates how PD Ports prioritises both its workforce as well as the local community.

“The pandemic has put more pressure than ever on peoples’ mental wellbeing and the partnership is an important support mechanism and resource for those looking for help dealing with substance use issues.

“All credit to PD Ports as through this partnership they will be making an important step in creating a culture that encourages people to feel comfortable in seeking the support they might need. Substance use can impact individuals, their partners and families and there is often a stigma which people can find difficult to talk about so this is an important and genuinely worthy project.”

This new initiative further builds on PD Ports longstanding commitment to employee wellbeing through extensive support programmes including Mental Health First Aiders and 24/7 support lines.