The outstanding work of airport duty manager Adrian Cameron has been recognised with a nomination for the British-Irish Airports “Unsung Heroes” Award. These awards go to staff who go the extra mile to help airports run smoothly.
Adrian, who has worked in the airport industry for 31 years and at Southampton Airport for 14 of them, devised the CARE programme, which seeks to raise awareness amongst all employees of how to recognise when they or others are struggling; how to start conversations about mental health, support each other and where to go to find help.
The programme was developed by Adrian in partnership with Lee Loveless, who is director of the Supporting Minds Consultancy, which specialises in training and supporting organisations in the vital area of mental health care.
“CARE was initially designed to turn the formal, sterile back-to-work interview into a compassionate, constructive conversation which ensures staff feel supported,” Adrian explained.
“The idea for it came after my own experiences of mental health illness. I thought that if I shared my story with people, others may find it helpful, so I booked 15 minutes slots with colleagues, shared a cup of tea and brought broken biscuits with me as a conversation starter – after all, a broken biscuit is still a great biscuit.
“Very quickly, others started to share their own stories with me and I discovered how big an issue presenteeism is within our industry. People just keep going when they are struggling with real issues and I wanted to find a way to help support them and reduce this.
“Luckily, when I spoke to senior management, they gave me their full backing to find solutions and do something about it, and a result CARE was born.”
CARE is an acronym of its four fundamental principles: Confidentiality, Awareness, Respect and Encouragement. Following the delivery of a successful awareness training programme for managers, CARE For Everyone is currently being rolled out to all staff across the airport.
The sessions are designed to help everyone understand the signs and symptoms of poor mental health, encourage disclosure and teach staff how not to be frightened of starting a conversation about poor mental health.
Adrian said: “By bringing this programme to everyone, we are encouraging peers to support each other – it is not always easy to reach out to managers but we do tend to talk with our peers. CARE is designed to help people feel comfortable speaking with a friend. It’s about breaking down that hierarchy and removing the stigma about poor mental health and normalising it.”
Commenting on the recognition, Head of Aerodrome Operations Dan Townsend said: “People are now talking openly about mental health and Adrian is leading the way in helping us all support and help each other.
“We are very lucky to have someone with such passion tackling such a difficult subject. People have physical ailments and there are traditional ways of supporting them, but mental health can be hidden and therefore much more challenging . Now I know how to deal with it, I know where to signpost people, it gives us the ability to not be afraid to look after our staff mentally as well as physically.
“It is wonderful that the importance of this work has been recognised during Mental Health Awareness Week and UK Airports Safety Week, both of which we are very proud to support.”
Voting is now open for these awards. Anyone wishing to support Adrian can vote for him here: https://www.airports-expo.com/awards/unsung-hero-awards-poll/
The winner will be announced during the 4th British-Irish Airports Expo at Olympia on June 11th.