Fifteen to One | Patrick Craig

"Through this work we’re setting some lofty ambitions – a whole University approach - that places the health and wellbeing of staff at the heart of everything that we do."

Employee survey | Helping transform our health and wellbeing. March 2023

In the run-up to the University’s Window on Wellbeing Week (26 – 30 June), Patrick Craig, Head of Health and Wellbeing, gives us an insight into this annual event. He also discusses the wider collaborative projects underway to promote and support the health and wellbeing of our University community. 

Window on Wellbeing Week aims to drive positive change and provide ongoing programmes of wellbeing activities that enable staff to come together as part of this year’s theme, ‘Community and Connection’. 

Discover how you can get involved and read more about Patrick’s career journey since he started at the University in 2003. 

Can you describe your role in 100 words?

Essentially, my role involves working with colleagues across the University to develop and deliver services that support the health and wellbeing of our University community. Our key priorities at the moment, include finalising the University’s new Health and Wellbeing Strategy, supporting the response to the Employee Engagement Survey to drive positive change, and providing an ongoing programme of wellbeing activities that are aligned to public health campaigns and the needs of staff.

What really impresses you about Leeds?

So many things, but ultimately it is the people. Everyone who I have been fortunate enough to work with at the University are passionate and committed to making things better for others. Working with like-minded people like this is what gets me out of bed each morning. I also love our campus – the grounds, the buildings, the cafes and all the other little spaces that we have available to explore.

What question have you most frequently been asked in your role?

What is the University doing to support the health and wellbeing of staff? In many ways it’s not a difficult question to answer. We have a range of services and support available through dedicated teams such as Occupational Health, Staff Counselling and Psychological Support, and Health and Wellbeing. In the last year we’ve also partnered with colleagues in Organisational Development & Professional Learning (OD&PL), Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) and Student Support Services to launch our own staff packages of Health and Wellbeing courses.There is work still to be done but we’re continuing to shape and evolve our support offer and just as importantly, raise awareness of our provision and how it can be accessed.  

What are you most looking forward to working on?

We’ve got lots of exciting projects taking place at the moment but here are two which spring to mind. Launching the University’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy later this year. I’ve really enjoyed working with colleagues on this and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. Through this work we’re setting some lofty ambitions – a whole University approach - that places the health and wellbeing of staff at the heart of everything that we do. Also, just round the corner is our annual Window on Wellbeing Week (Monday 26 – Friday 30 June) it’s a fantastic week-long programme of free health and wellbeing activities for staff and students – we’ve a great mix of on campus and online events for staff and students to get involved with.

Can you tell us more about the Window on Wellbeing? 

Our theme for this is year ‘Community and Connection’ and with that in mind, we’ve tried to develop a programme that enables staff from across the University to come together, try a new activity, learn something new – but most importantly of all, have some fun.

How can colleagues get involved? 

We’ve got a healthy cooking masterclass, a sleep well seminar, yoga, cycling, guided walks – there really is something for everyone. Getting involved is really easy, just visit our website for details of the programme and how to book.   

Is there something, or someone, that has inspired you in your career?

I work for some brilliant people during my 20 years working at Leeds including Lynne Cubbon, Stewart Ross, Rob Wadsworth, Suzanne Glavin and Paul Veevers. I think my leadership style and approach to work has been shaped, in some part, by each one of these people. 

We all have that professional or personal achievement we’re incredibly proud of – can you tell us yours?

Professionally, I’m proud of the path I’ve taken at the University. I started in 2003 as the Assistant to the Assistant Sports Assistant (genuine job title!) working in the old PE department and now I have a role that I love, working across the organisation doing impactful things for our staff. Personally, those that know me are well aware that I am a bit of triathlon bore! Last year I completed my first ironman distance triathlon in the Lake District, regarded as one of the toughest triathlon events in the world.

What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career that you know now?

Be patient, embrace mistakes, say yes when given opportunities and don’t take yourself too seriously.

If you didn’t work in HE, what would have been your chosen career?

A professional cycling journalist – the thought of driving a VW camper van around Belgium or France or Italy reporting on the world’s biggest cycling races would be a lot of fun.

What are your campus highlights?

I love our campus and I often think how lucky we are to work in such a great built environment - the grounds and gardens team do a brilliant job with the green space. My personal favourites though are some of our cafes, in particular Edit Room and the new Esther Simpson café. 

What’s still on your ‘to do’ list to visit?

If you’d asked me a few months ago I would have said St George’s Field as I’d only recently discovered it, however now I’d like to get up to Gair Wood and see how that space has been transformed.

What do you do to relax away from University life?

Life is hectic! My two teenagers keep me plenty occupied with their different sporting commitments, school and social life. I like doing anything outdoors particularly cycling and open water swimming. My wife and I really enjoy walking with the dog, (preferably with a country pub on route).

Where’s your favourite travel destination and why?

I love hills and my family likes rivers - the Yorkshire Dales and the Lakes are able to satisfy both of these whims. Further afield, I’m drawn to Bosnia and Slovenia. My wife’s family is from Bosnia and it is such an undiscovered country. Amazing cities and countryside, great food and lovely people. We are planning a big family holiday there next year and can’t wait!

What’s your random claim to fame?

My dad used to work in forestry and not long after I was born, Prince Charles visited one of the properties he was looking after. The now King made a very perceptive observation to my mother: ”He must be very young, is he?”.

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