A business devoted to the physical and mental health of employees has been welcomed to the Wilton Centre. 

Darlington-based Corporate Personal Wellbeing has taken over the operation of the centre’s wellbeing facilities – with its high-tech fitness equipment, treatment and consultation rooms – and extended opening hours to 24/7.

As well as helping its clients maintain and improve their physical fitness, the company is focused equally on the mental wellbeing of the 750 staff who work for the 65 businesses based there.

“There are a lot of successful businesses and their continued success will be achieved by looking after their most important asset – and that’s their people,” said Corporate Personal Wellbeing Director Patrick Masheder.

The occupational health company, which employs 16 staff and works with dozens of health care professionals, invited John McCabe – the Chief Executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce – to perform the opening ceremony.

“The Wilton Centre is one of the jewels in the crown of the Tees Valley and the presence of Corporate Personal Wellbeing further enhances the service it provides to its occupiers,” he said.

“Companies here are world leaders in bioscience and there are others finding ways to create circular economies to tackle some of our biggest challenges. The Wilton Centre is also home to some of the businesses helping Teesside become the green energy capital of the UK.

“This is intensive and demanding work and even the best employers need expert help to ensure their teams remain fit and healthy: whether that’s to spot the signs of overwork or something apparently as simple as ensuring people are sitting properly at their desks.”

That was how Corporate Personal Wellbeing started 10 years ago when overworked businessman Patrick Masheder sought help from personal trainer Johnny Harrison.

“I couldn’t lift up my arm.  I had pain all down my neck and I’d lost feeling in two of my fingers,” said Patrick.  “I was so focused on the work I was doing I could go 12 hours without thinking about food or even taking a break.”

The pair realised that Patrick was far from alone in prioritising work over his health but they saw a general lack of support for employees.

They launched their first Corporate Personal Wellbeing Centre in a Darlington office block in 2015. Wilton Centre is their second.

The impact of the pandemic on mental health has been widely recognised but Johnny thinks there is still much to learn. “Loads of people have problems with their mental wellbeing  – but often they ignore the signs,” said Johnny.  “Our psychotherapists and counsellors help people before it becomes problematic and then so bad that they have to take time off work.”

As well as providing wellbeing facilities for its occupiers, Wilton Centre has spent around £2m in refurbishing other areas of the site including the reception area and restaurant.

The centre is managed by the Pioneer Group which has another nine sites in its portfolio across the UK and Ireland.  Together they accommodate nearly 650 businesses.