Many businesses, their workforces and their families have been negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, not least in the areas of emotional well-being and financial security. The mental health of our nation is in crisis – and the same is true across all economies, with the poor arguably being hit the hardest.

Bill Huxley, co-founder of People against Poverty and founder of Business against Poverty, recently led a webinar that explored the key issues that affect labour supply (employment) and what can be done to negate the effects of the current crisis in mental health on our workforce. Atilla Toth, People against Poverty’s Romanian project partner in the Reghin area also spoke in this timely webinar on the impact that mental health and poverty is currently having on some of the world’s poorest.

The full Business against Poverty webinar can now be viewed on YouTube here: Global Mental Health, a Crisis in the Labour Market – YouTube

“Our perspective is having to change”

Bill Huxley, founder of Business against Poverty, spoke about the UK’s small and ever-shrinking labour supply that is the most impacted by poverty. Continuing to unfold before our very eyes right now, our perspective of so-called ‘unskilled’ workers has changed during the course of this pandemic – these workers are now, rightly, celebrated as the essential workers that our country needs, now more so than ever.

As our population continues to age, becomes ever more stressed and makes changes to working patterns, the labour supply is becoming less and less – and this is a global phenomenon. More and more people are retiring early, suffering from anxiety and moving into new sectors due to being unable to cope with the stress of working life: there is clearly a crisis in the labour market.

We have all faced significant stresses in our lives in recent years – from Brexit to Covid, these big issues have taken a sizeable toll on our mental health. We mustn’t stand idle in the face of these threats to our wellbeing.

“These families were hardly surviving … and then Covid-19 arrived”

Atilla Toth, People against Poverty’s Romanian partner in the Reghin area, talked about the challenges he has faced, particularly working through the Covid-19 pandemic and the virus’ impact on poor people’s mental health.

Atilla works closely with gypsy communities, and spoke candidly and emotionally about the harsh conditions that these families currently suffer through: a severe lack of food, no access to medical support or healthcare, little ability to access electricity or running water.

These families were barely surviving, and then the lockdown restrictions put in place in 2020 led to very tragic conditions with no opportunities to encourage or support one another or earn a small income. Atilla spoke about the shame that many of these families felt during the midst of the pandemic and, sadly, how many passed away as a result of Covid-19 and the associated restrictions that was placed on communities. The aftermath of the pandemic is great anxiety and unrest for many of these families.

“We can’t stand idle and be overwhelmed”

As business leaders, we have a unique and timely opportunity to help others in need.

Now is the time to put the heart back into business, in a strategic and fundamental way. We need to become people-invested growth organisations; people are not a commodity but are the capital. We need to re-examine our own values and whether these align with our professional and personal partners in order to overcome stress and anxiety and encourage better mental health for all.

With an understanding of our core values, these can be translated into business values and aligned with our stakeholders, employers, employees, investors and the wider community – and built into a company’s purpose: the reason that we all get up in the morning.

Purpose is about people, and it begins with looking out for others and giving back. That’s where Business against Poverty comes in. If you’re a business owner looking to make a positive impact in the world, there’s never been a better time to join a movement for change.

Our thanks to Atilla Toth and Bill Huxley for the insight and contributions provided in this webinar. If you missed the event, be sure to watch the video above and contribute to the conversation with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.


The Business against Poverty community looks forward to seeing you at one of our future events

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