Mental Health Awareness Week with NRTF

NRTF Staff and Board Members
Away Day March 2023

As employers, NRTF has a responsibility to ensure that our staff are well looked after, and their well-being & mental health is taken care of. This means creating an environment where people can feel safe, secure, and valued.

We are currently exploring the Conscious Leadership approach to employment. This approach encourages employers to be more mindful of their staff’s emotional needs and create a culture of trust and respect in the workplace.

Here’s what the team had to say:

“I try to make sure I leave the house for a short walk or a run everyday, working from home can easily fall into a pattern of never going outside, but I find I am so much more focused and energised if I am able to do this. It’s also brilliant that NRTF supports and encourages this.”

Hattie Thomas – NRTF Membership Manager

“I make sure I turn off all notifications on my phone and I don’t have work emails on it. I try to get to an exercise class at least 3 times a week and I get up and move around between meetings. I also try to keep external meetings to 30 minutes so I don’t get overwhelmed with Zoom fatigue.”

Holly Lombardo, NRTF Director

At NRTF we all work remotely so it is important we have the means and strategies to stay connected and to replicate the in-person experience as much as possible. We are building our systems with this as an aim. We promote a space of balance including regular group check-ins, one-2-ones, workload assessments and encouraging the team to feel confident and able to take time out in the day for rest, exercise or a mindful activity.

By taking steps to ensure that our employees are taken care of, we create a healthier work environment for everyone. We help the team reach their full potential, be productive and proud of their role outputs.

Supporting Mental Health at the NRTF Conference

Part of our commitment to making the Conference as accessible as possible, includes adopting a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere to help everyone feel safe and comfortable. We will have chill out spaces available, and attendees will be welcome to step out and take a moment whenever they need to. If you have any worries about attending the conference, please do get in touch and we will do our best to help put you at ease, you can contact our Project Manager Jess on

Mental Health Support Lines

Below are a list of organisations you can contact for support if you are struggling with your mental health. Our friends at Rural Arts have also produced a comprehensive resource page which you can find here.


To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email or visit some branches in person. You can also call the Samaritans Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (7pm–11pm every day). 

SOS Silence of Suicide – for everyone 

Call 0300 1020 505 – 4pm to midnight every day Email 

SOBS – Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide 

Support for people who are bereaved  suicide – 0300 111 5065 


If you’re experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day). 

National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK. 

Offers a supportive listening service to anyone with thoughts of suicide. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652 (open 24/7). 

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). 

You can call the CALM on 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight every day) if you are struggling and need to talk. Or if you prefer not to speak on the phone, you could try the CALM webchat service. 


If you would prefer not to talk but want some mental health support, you could text SHOUT to 85258. Shout offers a confidential 24/7 text service providing support if you are in crisis and need immediate help. 


Free, live instant chat service for people experiencing a bereavement. ttps:// 

Nicola Pollard – On Tour with Up The Road Theatre

One of our brilliant trustees, Nicola Pollard, is currently on tour with her theatre company. We asked her to tell us how it’s going…

It’s been four years since Up The Road Theatre were last on tour. Creating and developing a touring production is always a mammoth undertaking, especially if you’re project funded. Now, if I’m honest, it feels even tougher than before. The threat of Covid looms over everyone, audiences and performers alike; the cost of living crisis makes you wonder if people will want to turn out, if the halls will be able to pay their bills. And then, on the day of your dress rehearsal, it snows so heavily you’re nearly snowed into your digs and your rehearsal space has a power cut!

However, all the planning and preparation is starting to pay off. Beneath the Banner opened on Saturday March 11th, with Highlights Rural Touring in Middleton-in-Teesdale. A full house, and, despite the snow outside, a warm reception. Our production explores the vast array of experiences and perspectives from coal mining communities: the men underground, the workers on the surface and those in the community. I realised it’s been two and a half years since I received ACE funding to begin our R&D, which was followed by a second grant last summer for the rehearsals and tour. In between that time there have been a great many Zoom calls with potential project partners and creative team members; programming emails; submissions to Rural Touring scheme menus and (finally!) in-person meetings. Plus research for the show, encompassing interviews with former miners and their families; reading anything I could find and visits to the National Coal Mining Museum and other sites. Then the writing process: drafting, developing and re-drafting. At times it all seems unwieldy and impossible to navigate, but come the start of this year we had our tour, including twelve dates with Rural Touring schemes, a finished script and a cast.

My journey with Rural Touring began in 2015, with Up The Road’s first show. I didn’t even know Rural Touring existed until I was introduced to Spot On and Cheshire Rural Touring. Our 12 dates in 2023 haven’t happened overnight, they’re a result of eight years of collaborating and producing good shows that speak to audiences. This is our third touring production, which has given us plenty of opportunity for learning as we go.

As I write, on a train heading south, we’re three shows into this tour. We’ve played two of our three shows with Highlights, at the end of the week we’re with Arts Out West, followed by Rural Arts, Spot On Lancashire and Applause before our tour finishes in mid-April. We’ve already played to 180 people, and we’ve plenty more audience members to share our show with. Our van has miles to travel, and numerous digs to drop into. If you see a red VW Fox beetling up the M1 this month, give me a wave as I’ll be heading off to a schools workshop or joining the team for a show. If we could just hold off the snow for a few more weeks, that would be great…