Jamie Sadler, Food Nation

Jamie Sadler, Managing Director of Food Nation (winners of a Health & Wellbeing Award in 2013 and 2016 and the Public Health Minister's Award in 2016), reflects on the value of entering the Health & Wellbeing Awards. (Main photo: Sarah Deane Photographic)

Winning any kind of an award in business is generally a good thing; it helps to raise profile and it provides teams with an often much-needed boost.

But there is more to it than just that. Well there certainly is for us here at Food Nation.

With our heads down, delivering services and navigating the complex world of public sector funding, we rarely get a chance to raise our heads above the parapet and take a good look at the world around us.

This can be a dangerous game: too much inward focus doesn’t allow an organisation to innovate, disrupt or simply to benchmark itself and improve.

There was a point for us when we were in danger of becoming completely blind; losing a sense of what we originally set out to do – inspire people about good food.

When the opportunity first presented itself (back in 2013) for us to enter the Health & Wellbeing Awards, I saw it as a chance to simply get some recognition. We’d been recognised at a local level and it felt as though we were established enough to go for something national.

Little did I realise how involved the application would be, but also just how much value this process would bring. The application forced us into a state of reflection. It opened our eyes to what the world out there was doing and gave us angst over whether we were good enough.

A few months later and despite being somewhat astounded, we had been awarded a Health & Wellbeing Award in 2013 for a period of three years.

This was an important moment for us. Yes the recognition was there, but more than anything this was a push to motivate and improve. We wanted to go on to retain the award and the only way to do this was to set ourselves even more ambitious targets, to keep our eyes open and to keep improving and developing new partnerships.

We opened up the channels for customer and stakeholder feedback – be it face-to-face interviews, feedback cards, online surveys. We also looked to the private sector to research and find organisations we wanted to be like (in and outside the food industry).

We used this insight to improve our services, make them more accessible and to ensure they were truly meaningful to the partners we worked with, a range of ever changing communities with complex needs.

It’s this reflective approach, this view of the outside world (that we were determined to keep a grasp of) that allowed us to win both Healthier Lifestyles category and the Public Health Minister’s Award in 2016.

Food Nation is entering an exciting period, full of new challenges and the opportunity to work with new and brilliant people. The recognition and support RSPH has given all of the Food Nation team is invaluable and it allows us to go into this new phase with real confidence, knowledge and pride.

I would encourage any organisation to grab that application form and enter. It’s an understatement to say the Health & Wellbeing Award process has brought value to our organisation – it has truly opened our eyes and changed us for the better.