Jane Fowler - Head of Customer Support Services
Welcome to this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday and thank you to all of you who gave us feedback on last week’s update. We got some great ideas from you that you’ll see included in future editions of WBW.
Thanks this week in particular go to Margaret Ellis from Financial Services who suggested that we talk about the power of nature and also let you all know about the Big RSPB Garden Birdwatch this weekend – thanks Margaret!
Getting outside really is restorative and last weekend we had some beautiful, cold, sunny and snowy weather in mid Argyll – just the ticket for getting those mittens on and building a snowman (well mine was a snow-woman....better hat selection). I hope that you managed to make the most of the time that you had away from work.
This week, as well as sections on the outdoors and a couple of book recommendations, we are focussing on financial wellbeing. This is a difficult time of year for many people financially – Christmas is over and January feels like a long month. And this year the Covid situation is having a serious impact on many families and their finances. We hope that the practical information and support here is helpful.
You and your family may find you have additional financial pressures because of unexpected Covid19 costs - self-isolation, caring for relatives, an increased cost of food and basic provisions, a reduction in working hours or losing a job.
There is a direct link between financial and mental health wellbeing so it is important that you seek advice and support at an early stage if you are struggling with financial worries. It may not be easy discussing your personal finances with your employer but support is available to you through our partner organisations on a completely confidential basis:
Remember that the council’s Employee Assistance Programme (Health Assured) provide a number of helpful tools and calculators to help you keep on track with your finances and improve your financial wellbeing.
Finance Wellbeing Hub - Neyber
During the Covid 19 crisis, Salary Finance in partnership with Neyber are providing free access to their financial wellbeing hub and App without the requirement to create a login/password. https://wellbeing.neyber.co.uk/
You can access financial information and resources specifically related to the Covid-19 crisis as well as more general advice and guidance on subjects such as debt, loans, savings, benefits, managing income and taxes. Neyber work closely with many councils across Scotland.
If you are struggling with debt, Stepchange offer a free confidential service to achieve realistic solutions to debt problems, visit: www.stepchange.org or call free on 0800 138 1111.
National Debt Line also provide free support including factsheets and standard template letters at: https://www.nationaldebtline.org/ or call free on 0808 808 400.
Many of you may already be members of Scot West’s various savings accounts, including the popular Christmas Savings Account (start saving now!) They provide direct debit or payroll deduction facilities for council employees as well as online access to manage your account.
Enjoying the outdoors – for free!
Speaking of taking care of our finances, this is a good time to consider what is available to everyone and which doesn’t cost a penny! The power of nature and being able to enjoy the outdoors is available to pretty much all of us. You can enjoy being in your garden or just having a couple of window-boxes or pots with some herbs or spring flowers in to cheer you up. We are spoiled for choice with all the amazing scenery on our doorstep here in Argyll and Bute and no matter what the weather, being out in the fresh air really does make you feel better and can help to make us appreciate being at home by the fire when you get back!
RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch - 29-31 January
This weekend sees the launch of the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch, which is free to sign up for and only takes an hour. You just need to count all the birds you can see in your garden and send the information to the RSPB so they can monitor bird numbers across the UK. It is a great activity to do with all the family and is helping important research. You can find information and how to sign up here.
Thank you again, Margaret for this suggestion!
Book Recommendations – to celebrate the outdoors and staying cosy indoors
The Last Wilderness by Neil Ansell
The author has been gradually losing his hearing, which is observed by him particularly in nature and bird calls which one by one are falling silent to him.
The author makes a series of trips to the West Highlands of Scotland, an area he loves and respects before his hearing is lost to him completely. The landscape and wildlife of the coastal West Highlands which we are lucky enough to have almost on our doorstep is also a spectacular back drop to his adventures. This could be a potentially sad subject matter but is an uplifting story about appreciating what we have, our part in the natural world and accepting the challenges as well as the good experiences that life brings.
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
The story of Bridie Devine, female detective extraordinaire in London in 1863. It has obvious hints of Sherlock Holmes but contains supernatural aspects that Sherlock would certainly not have approved of!
Bridie is on the case of a kidnapped child which leads her to quite a host of unusual and in some cases dangerous characters with dark dealings. The detailed descriptions and depth of the characters helps make it one of those books that hangs around in your memory long after you’ve finished it. The story is at times dark and can be violent but is well balanced also highlighting the good aspects and resilience of humanity. It is a great piece of fiction to get lost in especially at the moment, when some escapism and having a hero such as Bridie on your side is very welcome!
I hope that you have found something interesting or useful in this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday – please keep in touch, give us your feedback and if you have any suggestions for interesting content, we’d be delighted to hear from you.