together fest 2024

Retail Trust’s ‘Together Fest’: A tonic for all retailers

By Julia Edwards, Head of Outreach, Charity Retail Association

As part of CRA’s range of membership benefits, we provide charity members with access to online wellbeing support from Retail Trust, whose aim is to create hope, health and happiness for everyone in retail.

Last week I had the pleasure of going along to Together Fest 2024, Retail Trust’s third annual wellbeing festival. Taking place during Mental Health Awareness Week, it offered a range of talks and panel discussions from a variety of speakers as well as wellness checks, massages, exercise classes and more.

I chose to stick to the talks and panel discussions, as I’m not much for fitness and wasn’t keen on queuing for a massage and missing some excellent content. The speaker programme did not disappoint!

The room was energised and enthused when Ruby Wax OBE gave her headline talk about dealing with a chaotic world and you could really sense that like me, the room felt understood and could relate to what Ruby was saying about feeling ‘frazzled’ and unable to ‘put the brakes’ on in this busy life we’ve all created for ourselves. She spoke about the importance of paying attention and being present with colleagues or those you line manage to pick up on any cues indicating they might be struggling or want to open up. There was enthusiastic applause when she finished and truth be told I could have listened to her for hours – she strikes the right balance of bringing humour to what can sometimes be quite heavy topics, whilst also being hard hitting.

Another highlight of the day for me was listening to Dr Nerina Ramlakhan deliver a speed masterclass on the power of rest and the importance of sleep. As a mum of two young children with a busy job I’m certainly guilty of never getting 8 hours sleep a night, but Dr Ramlakhan also talked about taking restful periods during the day and putting yourself in a better position to achieve pure sleep at night. I’ll certainly be trying some of her techniques, including trying to get to bed early 1 or 2 nights a week.

But for me the hardest hitting and most powerful session of the day came on the ‘Inspire Stage’ where there was a panel session entitled ‘rethinking male mental health’ with Sam Delaney, Luke Ambler and Dan Flanagan. It’s great to see this topic given the prominence it deserves as statistically males accounted for three-quarters of all suicide deaths in the UK in 2022. Setting up male only spaces and groups where men can come together as new dads, or as those needing support with their mental health is a must if we want to try and tackle these figures. It felt all the more inspiring and relevant for me because a close friend of mine tried to commit suicide earlier this year and after receiving support in hospital is now attending Andy’s Man Club weekly meetings. I’ve seen first hand the power of talking and it was great to meet and hear from one of the organisation’s co-founders.

I came away from the day feeling more informed about all things wellbeing, with plenty of tips to take back into my own life to improve my own wellbeing, sleep, relationship with colleagues, family and peers, as well as rejuvenated that such an important organisation exists to support all retail staff with their wellbeing.

I’ll leave you with my quote of the day; “Adulting is really hard.” Whether we’re busy dealing with kids, going through the menopause, experiencing trauma or grief or just trying to get by every day, life is hard…and very busy. It was great to see Retail Trust bringing together hundreds of retail colleagues to spend one day focusing on their wellbeing and I can’t wait to see what they do at Together Fest 2025!

If you haven’t already taken a look, please do go and set yourself up with an account on Retail Trust as part of your CRA membership. It only takes two minutes and you never know, you might find some information that can help you, a loved one or a colleague make changes in their life for the better.

17/05/2024 16:09