US private-equity giant the Blackstone Group has acquired the "iconic" UK venue operator in a deal believed to be worth in excess of £800m
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The new MHFAs offer mental-health support at a growing number of shows at Arena Birmingham and Resorts World Arena
By Jon Chapple on 18 Nov 2019
Following a successful trial, the UK’s NEC Group has committed to rolling out mental health first aid support across a number of shows at both its arenas, the 15,800-capacity Arena Birmingham and 15,700-cap. Resorts World Arena.
The mental health first-aiders (MHFAs), who are employees of both NEC Group and property company CBRE,are there to provide ‘practical mental health reassurance and support’ on show nights for both audiences and other employees, according to the Birmingham-based company. Their assistance can range from providing a non-judgmental listening ear to offering a space to relax or signposting to further support, it adds.
Support has so far been offered at Ariana Grande at Arena Birmingham and Little Mix at Resorts World Arena. NEC Group currently has 20 employees trained as mental health first-aiders, and plans to introduce the initiative more widely across a number of upcoming shows.
One customer who used the mental health service at Ariana Grande is quoted as saying: “We came to the Ariana concert last night – our first concert since the Manchester attack – and just wanted to thank everyone involved for making the experience so positive and restoring our children’s happy memories! It wasn’t without a few panic attacks and tears, but the mental health support in place was brilliant.
“We’ve put a real emphasis on making sure our employees’ mental health is looked after – and it’s just as important that we look after those visiting our venues”
“This visit was made so much easier by the reassurance of visible security, police presence and the mental health support on offer.”
Ellie Coombes, senior event manager at Arena Birmingham, says: “Mental wellbeing is hugely important to us at the NEC Group. Over recent months we’ve put a real emphasis on making sure our employees’ mental health is looked after – and it’s just as important that we look after those visiting our venues.
“We always hope everyone has a great time with us, but by partnering with CBRE, we’re there on hand to help if anyone needs it. We want our visitors to come and talk to us about their mental health and know that if they’re struggling, they don’t have to do it alone.”
Several new initiatives aiming to improve the industry’s mental health were announced in the run-up to World Mental Health Day 2019, which took place on 10 October.
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