Mental health at Christmas: 12 tips for well-being

BEN have put together their top tips about mental health at Christmas, as well as some advice on beating loneliness and their festive opening hours.

Mental health doesn’t take time off at Christmas, and with all the added stresses that can come with the festive season it’s very important to care for your wellbeing.

1. Plan ahead
Avoid unnecessary stress over the festive season by planning as much as possible in the run up to Christmas and being careful not to take on too much. You’re not being selfish by saying “no” to some things or asking for some help. For example, if you’re hosting Christmas dinner, could you ask some of your guests to bring a starter or dessert?

2. Make time for you
At Christmas it can be all too easy to get swept up into other peoples’ ideas of fun. It’s important to make sure that you do something you want as well – this is your holiday too! If you know this will be hard, try booking something in advance or setting a free day or two aside just for you.

3. Avoid comparisons
If you do decide to use social media over the festive season, avoid comparing your experience to those of your friends. Remember that most people only share the best bits of their lives online and you don’t know what’s going on behind the smiling selfies and prezzie pics!

4. Pace yourself
Give yourself time to relax over the Christmas period – don’t be afraid to take time out to go for a walk, listen to music or have a nap if you need it. If you’re hosting, try to plan this in advance.

5. Get outside
Going for a wintery walk – even if it’s just around the block – can be the perfect way to get some fresh air and exercise along with a change of place. Being in the same house for too long can get a bit intense, especially if it’s crowded, so a change of scenery will do everyone good!

6. Try to eat healthily
Whilst it’s fine to have a bit of culinary indulgence over Christmas, try to keep your diet as balanced as possible with lots of fruit and vegetables. This will help you to avoid energy lows that can have an effect on your mood.

7. Alcohol in moderation
While a bit of alcohol can make you feel relaxed, don’t forget that drinking too much can leave you feeling irritable and low. Drinking within the recommended guidelines means you’ll get to enjoy a Christmas tipple, whilst reducing the negative effects on your mood. Alcohol can also play a big part in arguments and disagreements, so it’s sensible to drink in moderation.

8. Get enough sleep
Feeling sleepy can also leave you feeling low, so try to keep to regular sleep patterns as much as possible over the Christmas period. We have lots of tips on getting enough shut-eye on our sleep blog.

9. Talk to someone
If you’re worried about Christmas or feel overwhelmed or under pressure, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. Have a chat to someone you trust. You can read our tips on talking about your mental health here.

10. Keep active
Exercise can be great for mental health and there are still ways to keep it up over Christmas! Have a boogie to some festive classics or head outside for a fresh wintery walk. If we’re lucky enough to have a white Christmas, you could even get some people together for a snowball fight or go sledging!

11. Christmas alone
If you’re spending Christmas alone, have a think about what you want to do beforehand. You may decide to curl up with a favourite movie, book yourself a getaway or arrange to go to a lunch. You could also consider volunteering (see point 12) which is a great way to meet new friends and give something back. We also have lots of inspiration on our blog at

12. Volunteer
It’s no secret – giving something back can help you feel good about yourself and there’s no more perfect time to volunteer than around Christmas. Head to to check out local opportunities!

Support for mental health at Christmas

If you’re worried about your mental health at Christmas, you can find out our helpline opening hours and where to get support on our Christmas support post. It’s completely free to get in touch with us if you work (or have worked) in the automotive industry, or you are dependent on someone who is.

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Ford scrappage scheme to continue in 2018

The Ford scrappage scheme, which includes cars and CVs, is to be extended into the first quarter of 2018.

The success of the scheme, which has seen over 10,500 vehicles scrapped and replaced with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles, is expanded to include the Ford Ranger as well as the most popular all-new Fiesta, Focus and Transit CV models.

Andy Barratt, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director said, ‘The Ford scrappage scheme has been so well received by our customers and I’m pleased to announce its extension in to next year. We have an excellent product line-up and our scheme is applicable to one of the broadest ranges of vehicles, including the segment leading Ford Ranger.

‘We continue to carry strong sales momentum as we more towards the end of the year. Our CV sales growth was particularly positive in an increasingly challenging market. It’s also rewarding to see the all-new Fiesta strengthening its leadership position as we continue the launch of the full model range, with Fiesta Active and ST still to come to complete the line-up of our most technologically advanced Fiesta ever.’

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Sponsor Link: IAAF 2017 Award Sponsors

The sponsors for the 2017 Awards were:

Car Distributor:   Denso Aftermarket

Autosupplies (Chesterfield) receiving their award from Martin Pring (L) from Award Sponsor Denso and Johnny Herbert (2nd from right)

Car Supplier:  Elcome

MAHLE Aftermarket receiving their award from Award Sponsor Elcome and Johnny Herbert

CV Distributor:  Boswell Aftermarket

Debbie and Dennis Baker receiving their award

2017 IAAF conference highlights wind of change for aftermarket

The IAAF Annual Conference, sponsored by Autoparts UK, addressed some of the major issues that will impact on the aftermarket in 2018 and beyond, including global influences, technical threats, rapidly evolving technology and Brexit, as it hosted the most engaging conference to date.

Held for the first time at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Milton Keynes on 7 December, the new venue reflected the renewed sense of purpose in combatting and dealing with some of the biggest proposed changes the aftermarket has faced. The high turnout of delegates heard from an abundance of key industry speakers, who all shared their invaluable insight into various hot topics exploring IAAF’s key theme, ‘Facing a new Brexit world in the automotive aftermarket’.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, welcomed the delegates and kickstarted proceedings on a seasonal note, delivering her summary of the past year in a ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ address that covered 12 key issues that characterised the past year in the industry.

Wendy Williamson opening the 2017 IAAF Conference

Williamson summarised the main issues including the proposed MOT changes, the connected vehicle and the ‘demonisation’ of diesel cars regarding emissions, with the outcome of the TRL report being “one of the gold results of the year”. She also warned of what was to come post-Brexit, acknowledging “the journey we have ahead”.

Dr Julia Saini from Frost & Sullivan then examined the importance of the UK aftermarket to the UK economy and the impact of Brexit on the sector, supported by key metrics and statistics highlighting UK growth, as well as the effect on trade balance as a result of the relationship between the UK and EU.

Delegates also learned more about how global influences are shaping the distribution structure, with an overview of the consolidations of the UK and Europe aftermarket, with Quentin Le Hetet from GIPA. This was followed by Whocanfixmycar Co-Founder Alistair Preston, who addressed the rise of online service providers and the impact on the UK aftermarket.

After lunch, Olaf Henning from MAHLE took to the stand to illustrate how F1 technology is being used to drive developments in the automotive parts aftermarket, whilst underlining MAHLE’s global expertise and ongoing collaboration with Ferrari.

Steve Nash from IMI was also on hand to discuss future technologies and their role, with a report projecting a significant increase in digital revenue and the need for businesses to specialise.

Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry

This was followed by Neil Pattemore from Figiefa, who addressed the latest emerging technical threats to the aftermarket, giving an update on progress made over the past 12 months.

Lawrence Bleasdale, IAAF president, then wrapped up the conference, outlining the key messages from the day and thanking all members for attending.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, said: ““The conference was one of our best yet, offering plenty of industry expertise and food for thought, helping to arm the independent aftermarket with advice that could greatly benefit it in the times ahead.

“As an industry, we will continue to face many challenges on different fronts, and we will encounter more complex threats. However, we are prepared, and the future is bright despite the challenges we face. What we do know is that IAAF will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of its members to secure that future.”

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IAAF Award Ceremony applauds aftermarket champions

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) Annual Awards & Dinner 2017 welcomed industry professionals with a ‘fresh new look’, as it celebrated the hard work carried out by the independent aftermarket over the past year.

The prestigious event, held for the first time at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Milton Keynes, was larger than in previous years with close to 600 guests in
attendance. Sponsored by Automotive Alliance Group, it again united the aftermarket for its distinguished annual gathering, presenting professionals with the opportunity to network over a four-course meal set in state-of-the-art surroundings.

IAAF President, Lawrence Bleasdale, addressing guests at the 2017 IAAF Dinner

Guests were kept entertained throughout the course of the evening by IAAF’s guest speaker and world renowned F1 driver Johnny Herbert, one of the greatest all-round racing drivers in the history of motorsport, as he shared highlights of his illustrious career with the audience.

Talented duo Limerence performed for the nearly 600 guests in attendance with a live after-dinner acoustic set.

The IAAF Annual Awards were also announced and runners up and winners were as follows:

Car Distributor of Excellence
Winner: Autosupplies (Chesterfield)
Runner Up: Fast Parts Wales

Autosupplies (Chesterfield) receiving their award from Martin Pring (L) from Award Sponsor Denso and Johnny Herbert (2nd from right)

Car Supplier of Excellence
Winner: MAHLE Aftermarket Ltd
Runner Up: Apec Braking

MAHLE Aftermarket receiving their award from Award Sponsor Elcome and Johnny Herbert

CV Supplier of Excellence
Winner: Roadlink International
Runner Up: Exol Lubricants

Roadlink International receiving their award from Johnny Herbert and IAAF President Lawrence Bleasdale

CV Distributor of Excellence
Winner: David Huggett Motor Factors
Runner Up: DB Wilson & Co.

David Huggett MF receiving their award from Award Sponsor Boswell Aftermarket and Johnny Herbert

All guests were able to make a charitable donation to the automotive industry charity, BEN, which, when combined with the two IAAF golf days, successfully raised nearly £10,000.

IAAF chief executive, Wendy Williamson, said: “We’re thrilled with another successful awards dinner and what a fantastic new location to hold it in. It is
great to welcome even more guests this year and see a whole host of new members enjoying a superb evening. We’re already looking forward to doing it all again next year!”

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Double-digit decline for new van market in November

The SMMT has released figures s howing that new light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations experienced a double-digit decline in November. The market fell -11.1%, with 26,486 new vans and pick-ups registered – the third consecutive monthly fall.

SMMT figures for UK van registrations YTD November 2017

All segments experienced declines, with demand for smaller vans falling the most, down -21.7%. Pick-ups were next, down -14.4%, followed by 4x4s, larger vans, and vans weighing 2.0T-2.5T, which dropped -10.0%, -9.4%, and -8.9% respectively. Year-to-date, the LCV market has fallen -4.1% with 334,133 new vans joining UK roads, broadly in line with expectations.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “While the market decline is worrying, it remains at an historically high level. Nevertheless, economic and political uncertainty continues to affect business confidence and with it new van purchasing patterns which is damaging, both for the market and for efforts to improve air quality. Getting more of the latest, Euro 6 LCVs onto our roads is the fastest way to reduce emissions so, to avoid a prolonged downturn, it is vital that government works to restore the conditions that give operators confidence to invest in their fleets.”

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£80M set aside for EV battery development

The government has allocated £80m for the development of a national centre in Coventry which will develop batteries for electric cars.

The National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility (NBMDF) could create upward of 10,000 jobs.

According to the Coventry Telegraph, the NBMDF will see the development of the next generation of battery systems across battery chemistry, electrodes, cell design, module and pack level and will see a partnership between academia and industry.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, made the announcement following a bid by WMG at the University of Warwick, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Coventry City Council.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, chairman of WMG said, ‘We are delighted to have been successful in the bid to create this new national battery facility here in the Midlands. Working with industry and the supply chain we will develop and expand battery R&D which will see the creation of skilled jobs and developments within the automotive sector.

‘Coventry and the sub region has a significant contribution to make in the delivery of the UK’s national industrial strategy, being in a strong position to lead the advancement of battery development, and vehicle electrification and autonomous vehicles. It will be at the heart of the drive to make the city a smart motor city.’

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said, ‘Battery technology is one of the most game-changing forms of energy innovation and it is one of the cornerstones of our ambition, through the Industrial Strategy and the Faraday Challenge, to ensure that the UK leads the world, and reaps the economic benefits, in the global transition to a low carbon economy.

‘The new facility, based in Coventry and Warwickshire, will propel the UK forward in this thriving area, bringing experts from academia and industry together to deliver innovation and R&D that will further enhance the West Midlands’ international reputation as a cluster of automotive excellence.’

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Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (Part 4)

Every business should start to consider whether it is necessary for them to put systems in place to verify individuals’ ages and to obtain parental or guardian consent for any data processing activity.

For the first time, the GDPR will bring in special protection for children’s personal data, particularly in the context of commercial internet services such as social networking. If your business offers online services (‘information society services’) to children and relies on consent to collect information about them, then a parent or guardian’s consent may be necessary in order to process their personal data lawfully. The GDPR sets the age when a child can give their own consent to this processing at 16 (although this may be lowered to a minimum of 13 in the UK). If a child is younger then consent must be sought from a person holding ‘parental responsibility’.

This could have significant implications if an organisation offers online services to children and collects their personal data. Remember that consent has to be verifiable and that when collecting children’s data the privacy notice must be written in language that children will understand.

Data breaches
It is necessary to ensure that the correct procedures are in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.

Some businesses are already required to notify the ICO (and possibly some other bodies) when they suffer a personal data breach. The GDPR introduces a duty on all organisations to report certain types of data breach to the ICO, and in some cases, to individuals. It is only necessary to notify the ICO of a breach where it is likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals – if, for example, it could result in discrimination, damage to reputation, financial loss, loss of confidentiality or any other significant economic or social disadvantage.

Where a breach is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals, it will also be necessary to notify those concerned directly in most cases.

Procedures should be put in place to effectively detect, report and investigate a personal data breach. It may be desirable to assess the types of personal data held and document where it would be necessary to notify the ICO or affected individuals if a breach occurs. Larger organisations will need to develop policies and procedures for managing data breaches. Failure to report a breach when required to do so could result in a fine, as well as a fine for the breach itself.

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Taxation of Termination Payments – an update from Xecutive Search

Changes to the tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) treatment of termination payments are due to come into effect from 6 April 2018.Changes to the tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) treatment of termination payments are due to come into effect from 6 April 2018.

In summary the key changes are that all payments directly or indirectly covering notice pay will be fully subject to tax and NICs, whilst all termination payments over £30,000 will attract employers’ NICs.
However, since the process for putting these changes into legislation began, HMRC has announced two further changes.

The main change is one which has only recently been announced. The income tax and NIC changes were all meant to come into effect at the same time (ie 6 April 2018). However, the NICs changes will now come into effect on two different dates:

  1. All income tax changes and all but one of the NIC changes will take effect on 6 April 2018, but
  2. Termination payments above £30,000 will only become subject to employers’ NICs from 6 April 2019.

This will therefore give all employers an extra year in which to make payments above £30,000 free of employers’ NICs.

The second change will affect fewer employers as it only affects employees who have overseas employment as part of their employment history.

HMRC have said that foreign service relief (FSR) will after all be retained for non-UK resident employees but not for employees who are UK resident (with an exception for UK resident seafarers).

Human Resources departments should carefully consider the impact of the changes to the termination payments regime coming into effect over the next few years. There could be substantially different after-tax and NIC treatments depending when payments are made.

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Obstruction of Fire Exits Leads to a £60K Fine for Employer

The period leading up to Christmas is always a busy time for businesses, especially those taking frequent deliveries of product into their premises to meet the additional demands of their customer base. This must not be done at the risk to the safety of occupants within the business and its customers.

Recently, sportswear retailer JD Sports was fined £60,000 after firefighters found that piles of stock ordered for the Christmas rush had blocked emergency exits at one of its stores. West Midlands Fire Service found that escape routes at the JD Sports shop in the Merry Hill shopping centre in Brierley Hill was lined with crates and stock, reducing the width of one corridor to just 30cm. The employer was fined £60,000 after Fire Inspectors found that piles of stock ordered for the Christmas rush had blocked emergency exits.

Wolverhampton Magistrates Court heard that Fire Inspectors visited the store in December 2015 as part of routine pre-Christmas programme of visits. They found that too much stock had been ordered, causing an overstock problem with clothes rails blocking the store’s fire escapes.

Inspectors for the fire service left staff at the shop with instructions to clear the exit routes, but when the Inspectors returned two weeks later they found that their advice had been ignored.

A Fire Risk Assessment carried out by the firm (18 months before the visit by the West Midlands Fire Service) had identified problems with escape routes being blocked by packaging waste. This Fire Risk Assessment had recommended that the waste be removed and that a Store Manager should check fire escape routes every day.

In court JD Sports Fashion admitted six offences. District Judge Michael Wheeler fined the store £10,000 for each charge and also ordered the Employer to pay £7464 in costs. In summing up the District Judge said; said: “The problems that existed seem to have arisen, at least in part, because of stock management problems. It is worrying to me that the problems had been identified in its own risk assessment some 18 months beforehand.”

A Fire Inspection Officer at West Midlands Fire Service, said: “It beggars belief that the company compromised the safety of their staff and Christmas shoppers in this way. He went on to say; “In spite of our warning that we would be revisiting, breaches were again identified when we returned two weeks later.” He added; “We do everything we can to advise businesses on fire safety, but we will not hesitate to prosecute if our advice is ignored.” He concluded by saying; “Retailers must realise they can’t put profit before people’s safety by over-stocking, reducing the width of escape routes and blocking fire exit routes.”

Recommended Action:

  1. Check that all designated fire escape routes and fire exits are clear (unobstructed) and adequately sign-posted.
  2. Review the site-specific Fire Risk Assessment – if needed, add to the assessment the requirement that a nominated person is to check (every day) that fire escape routes and fire exits are clear.
  3. A nominated person for the site should carry out random checks to ensure that fire escape routes and fire exits are clear.
  4. Employees should be reminded that they must not obstruct fire exits; for example by parking cars in very close proximity to designated fire doors etc.
  5. Consider having a Fire Evacuation Drill to test the response of all persons on site over the next 2 weeks.Your Comments