Health and wellbeing champions

Guidance for health and wellbeing leads on how to introduce wellbeing champions in NHS organisations as part of the NHS People Plan.

8 March 2024

Supporting the health and wellbeing of NHS staff is of utmost importance. Health and wellbeing affects every employee and it is vital that all our NHS people can talk to someone about their health and wellbeing when they need to.

Very often, staff are unaware of what services are available at a local level to support their wellbeing. Training specific staff to champion your organisation's wellbeing offer can significantly improve awareness of these services and, in turn, the wellbeing of your staff. 

What is a wellbeing champion?

NHS England (NHSE) defines health and wellbeing champions as: people at all levels of the NHS who promote, identify and signpost ways to support the wellbeing of their colleagues.

A wellbeing champion is a member of your workforce who supports the wellbeing of staff within your organisation. 

Wellbeing champions know their work areas and are well placed to recognise what may work best in their team's environment. They can also signpost to the wider resources and support their organisation has in place.

Having wellbeing champions in post will be extremely beneficial to your staff as well as supporting your organisation's wellbeing strategy, the national wellbeing agenda and the NHS health and wellbeing framework

Many NHS organisations have similar roles in place but may use different names, such as wellbeing allies, advocates or officers. 

The role of a wellbeing champion

Champions' roles and responsibilities may vary across organisations, but can include:

  • acting as a role model for promoting positive health and wellbeing practice within your organisation, team and department  
  • linking with health and wellbeing leads or the person responsible for delivering the health and wellbeing strategy for the organisation
  • listening to colleagues when appropriate
  • signposting staff to the wellbeing support available
  • providing support to health and wellbeing leads
  • encouraging colleagues to take breaks and look after themselves, for example, drinking plenty of fluids, lunchtime walks taking up hobbies
  • making sure colleagues are taking time to reflect and be aware of their physical and mental health.

Please note: wellbeing champions are not expected to provide advice to colleagues. They are there to listen and signpost colleagues to the services your organisation provides, including mental health support if required.

  • A wellbeing champion can be anyone with a passion for health and wellbeing. They can be from across the organisation, in any role and at any grade. The ideal candidates must be members of staff who are driven to support the health and wellbeing of their colleagues.

    Wellbeing champions do not need to be from a clinical background, as this is a practical role to ensure the continued safety and health and wellbeing of our colleagues.

    It is important that candidates who are interested in becoming a wellbeing champion have a conversation with their line manager beforehand. This champion role requires the person to be readily available, so support from their line manager is essential.

  • There are a number of ways you can introduce wellbeing champions in your organisation through working with your HR, OD and health and wellbeing teams. You can do this by:

    • ensuring you have a role description of what the champion is required to do
    • offering training to those who are interested in becoming a champion 
    • advertising the positions on your staff intranet, on posters around the trust, via social media, in wellbeing newsletters and communications bulletins and by word of mouth
    • holding meetings with senior leaders so they can filter this down to line managers 
    • assuring those interested in applying that they will have protected time to fulfil the role. Some staff may be put off if they feel it will take up too much of their time.
  • Introducing a new initiative into your organisation can sometimes feel challenging. However, there are many ways you can introduce wellbeing champions successfully:  

    • Creating posters outlining the role of a wellbeing champion, how they can support colleagues and where they can gain access to one.
    • Issuing wellbeing champions with different coloured lanyards, badges or velcro badges so they are easy to find.  
    • Adding information onto champions' email signatures and detailing how to get in touch with them.
    • Creating a web section on your intranet with information and pictures of who the wellbeing champions are and how staff can find them.
    • Holding regular drop-in wellbeing champion meetings where colleagues can have a conversation.
    • Working closely with your wellbeing guardian to ensure that wellbeing champions are being discussed on board level.
  • Champions should recognise that this role is for them to own and manage themselves. 

    Wellbeing leads should act as a point of call for champions and should escalate any issues the champions identify to board level so they are aware of the issues and challenges staff are facing.

    Wellbeing leads can also support champions in a range of ways:

    • Ensuring wellbeing champions are aware of what their role is and what they are required to do by providing them with a role description.
    • Providing champions with access to a specific inbox where they can send queries to.
    • Hosting group sessions and/or coffee mornings with wellbeing champions to check in and find out about the current issues staff are facing.
    • Ensure wellbeing champions receive the relevant information for their roles, such as access to relevant meetings and training.
  • NHSE is working with stakeholders to develop a range of resources that will be made available to all NHS organisations to support their wellbeing champions.

    When appointed, champions will gain access to an online community of practice network  - where they can meet meet other champions for support, sharing good practice and discussing any challenges.

    Wellbeing champions within this network can also access a monthly development programme, with themed online learning sessions to support them in their role.  

    The Long Term Workforce Plan has emphasised the importance of retaining our valued NHS workforce. Employers should be looking at their wellbeing offer and critically evaluating the experience of staff through all stages of their careers. 

    A positive staff experience and a rounded support offer are vital to encouraging staff to remain in the NHS workplace.

  • Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

    Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has recruited and trained 180 health and wellbeing champions in their trust since 2012. The organisation did this by working with their HR department to create a clear job descriptor of what champions would be required to do and producing a document outlining what the trust expects from wellbeing champions, such as making themselves visible.

    The trust provides champions with:

    • regular support meetings and coffee mornings to check in on how they are doing
    • an inbox managed by the health and wellbeing team which they can send any queries to
    • protected time to assure that they can fulfil their champion duties.

    The trust is planning to train and support additional champions to allow all health and wellbeing champions to share and signpost, rather than becoming specialists. The organisation’s wellbeing guardian is very supportive of the champions and ensures they are regularly discussed at board level.

    Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust

    Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust has recruited and trained 280 wellbeing champions since 2016. The trust has done this by holding a wellbeing day where they handed out flyers to staff to raise awareness and encourage them to join.

    When appointed, the health and wellbeing lead shares the following information with the champion:

    • a role descriptor, caveating that every team will be different and the champion needs to get to know their team in order to be most successful
    • signs them up to a Wellbeing Wednesday bulletin which details all the wellbeing information the champions can signpost colleagues to
    • invites them to the two wellbeing champion events held each year.

    To continue recruiting champions the trust issues an organisation-wide ‘wellbeing hero’ award each month and encourages the winner to volunteer to be a wellbeing champion.

    Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust

    Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust introduced wellbeing champions into their organisation in 2019 as part of their quality improvement project. The trust now has around 150 wellbeing champions in post as well as six wellbeing leads.

    The trust uses the following procedure to recruit new champions:

    • Interested staff are sent an application form (manager approval is required) and role descriptor
    • Applicants are then asked to complete e-learning packages on the three-step process in having supportive conversations and on being a mental health responder. Each one takes around 40 minutes.
    • On completion of the training, an induction is scheduled with the wellbeing lead. This is an opportunity to offer clarity, outline expectations and share what other champions in the network are doing.   

    The trust also offers a six-hour diffuser training course for champions if they wish. This was created by the company which trained the turst's staff in crisis management.

    Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

    Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has implemented 46 health and wellbeing champions since 2019, as part of a programme looking at what could be done to make the organisation better.

    Due to the geographical spread of the trust, the health and wellbeing team targeted localities to ensure they had a wellbeing champion within each specialty. 

    Once recruited the champions are provided with a three-hour training session by better health at work focusing on regional priorities and how they can support staff in their teams.

    The champions are supported by:

    • the health and wellbeing lead who runs monthly virtual sessions
    • a Facebook group with all the other champions to share good practice
    • weekly wellbeing emails to signpost options for staff.

    The trust is planning to provide each champion with a special hoodie so they are visible to all staff members and are in currently in the process of training their next cohort of champions.

    Can you share your trust's good practice? 

    We would love to hear how you have successfull recruited and implemented health and champions into your organisation, please email us at