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Transforming lives through building mental fitness 

City College Norwich (CCN) and Fika  
Staff Essentials Course: 19th April - 1st June 2021 
 Hilary Bright Hilary Bright Director of HR Services at City College Norwich

1 November, 2021

City College Norwich (CCN) has been delivering Fika’s ‘Staff Essentials Course’ to teaching staff since April 2021, supporting educators to take control and proactively work on their own mental fitness. 

We spoke to Hilary Bright, Director of HR Services from City College Norwich about their experience of joining the movement for better mental fitness with Fika and NCFE.  

From mental health to mental fitness 

CCN wanted to shift the focus from mental ill health to mental fitness, talking about it in the same terms as we do our physical fitness. To help with this shift, they identified the need to provide both staff and students with an effective resource that would help them improve resilience, allowing everyone at the college to tackle the challenges that life brings.  

Preventing stress-related absence in staff and enhancing the learning and development of students were two of the key priorities when it came to choosing the right platform. It was important for CCN to find a resource that both staff and students could continue to use throughout their time at the college. 

Based on their needs, CCN chose to implement Fika Essentials with support from NCFE – an educational charity committed to supporting mental fitness in education, who provided the first year of Fika to the college for free.  

Hilary explained that when it comes to mental fitness – it shouldn’t be left until we hit crisis point. She said, “We have loads of resources for mental health support for after an event has taken place, but not for prevention. That’s why we decided to come on board and use the Fika app as a specific resource for mental fitness for students and staff.” The Fika Essentials course is designed to boost focus skills, improve stress management, build motivation, confidence and resilience, and reduce burnout.  

Launching Fika Essential to staff  

To get started, the Fika team ran a launch session for all staff at the college to help them understand the basics of the app and how to access the Essentials of Mental Fitness programme. Encouraging use amongst staff was an important part of encouraging widespread use at the college.  

To raise awareness of the app and ensure all questions were answered during the launch, the recorded session was uploaded to the staff intranet alongside FAQs, instructions for the app and digital posters. Physical posters were also put up around campus where staff would see them to further support the launch. Hilary commented, “Fika were helpful, patient and enthusiastic when supporting the launch.” 

Positive impact on mental fitness  

In the first 3 months after the roll-out, CCN saw a 5% increase in the Mental Fitness scores of staff who completed the Fika Essentials course, embedding what they learnt into their everyday lives and routines. Hilary shared that staff are already talking about which exercises they’re going back to and are speaking about this in a really positive way. She went on to tell us that, “the Fika app is easy to use, easily accessible and has a good ‘pick and mix’ of exercises to support everyone using it.”.  

The Fika future 

CCN ultimately want to support as many people at the college as possible with their mental fitness, enabling them to be happier and more fulfilled both in and out of work / study.  

After the success the college saw with its staff members, CCN is now moving to the next stage of implementation, rolling out the app to students. To help make this a success, Hilary explains that they have a number of ‘Fika Champions’ in place who help spread the message about Fika. She says that “having that student voice is a big help!”.  

The big question 

Finally, we asked Hilary the big question. Would CCN recommend Fika to other centres? Hilary had no hesitation! She said, “we would recommend Fika because we recognise that there is a gap for mental fitness in Further Education and Fika can help fill this gap. It is so simple to use. Fika is for life, not just for roll-out”.