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Staff boost mental health awareness through voluntary learning

Staff at Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) have completed personal development courses on mental health awareness as part of the build up to national mental health awareness week.

Nine staff members at the Seaham-based firm committed to the two-month course as part of GAS’ partnership with national initiative ‘The Big Learn’.  In total, 16 staff group-wide volunteered to complete a range of different qualifications to further their personal development.

As a growing area of concern in the UK workplace, the “Awareness of Mental Health” course proved the most popular amongst staff, with others opting for leadership, mathematics, understanding disabilities and more.

One in six people experience mental health problems in the workplace in the UK.  Staff completed modules on stress, anxiety, depression, phobias and several other conditions, allowing them to both recognise these issues and deal with them as a colleague.

Lauren Redman, HR Manager, completed the course.  She said: “What I learned will help me in my job and allow me to offer advice to other staff.

“I’m genuinely interested in the subject and it’s such a wide-spread issue which affects people worldwide, so I felt it a valuable area to increase my knowledge.”

Judith Bennison, Group HR Director, said: “Our staff are our most important asset at GAS so we take their personal development seriously, as well as their mental health.  We’re thrilled that those who completed the course chose to do so themselves.  It’s the kind of self-starting attitude that thrives here.

“GAS is continuing to expand, with our head count now over 160.  In a growing workforce, having more knowledge of mental health has obvious advantages.  We’ve developed a quality staff benefits package and wellbeing is always high on our agenda, whether mental or physical.”

Photo caption: GAS staff who passed the “Awareness of Mental Health” course from L to R: Liam Groves, Team Manager (Compliance), Phil Andrew, Associate Director of Customer Experience, Ryan Groves, Compliance Advisor, Adam Brown, Marketing and eCommerce Manager, Lewis Cummings, Energy Management Apprentice, Alan Garratt, Trainer, Lauren Redman, HR Manager, and Nathan Raine, HR Administrator.

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Paul JohnsonGroup Financial Director

Paul Johnson is very much a home-grown talent.

He joined Great Annual Savings Group in its infancy, fresh from a youth career as a professional footballer with Hartlepool United.  He quickly established a reputation within the business and aced all required accountancy qualifications in the space of four years to become the Group’s Management Accountant.

Several successful projects later, Paul was promoted to Head of Finance.  When the former FD left GAS, he took on the mantle of the business’ most senior finance professional; boasting a string of incredible achievements all under the age of 30.


“I have witnessed phenomenal growth at the Group over the many years I’ve worked here and I’m looking forward to guiding the Group into an exciting new chapter.”

Interesting fact:

Paul made his professional debut for Hartlepool United against Bournemouth in the Football League.  Some say Danny Ings still resides in his pocket to this day.