South Derbyshire vitamins company helps workforce through cost-of-living crisis with free daily hot meals and an extra £400 winter payment

Amid plummeting UK temperatures, a Derbyshire company helping ward off coughs and sniffles by making vitamins is caring for its own employees with free hot meals and two extra winter payments during the coldest months of the year.

Employees at IVC Brunel Healthcare in Swadlincote are currently busy helping boost the nation’s immune systems by making millions of vitamin D tablets as well as hundreds of other formulations including echinacea to help stave off colds, as part of its overall production of four and a half billion tablets a year.

Now the company is looking after its own staff’s health and wellbeing by giving everyone a free daily hot meal to help them through the cost-of-living crisis. As well as that, everyone has been given their first winter payment of £200 to help pay energy bills, with another £200 due to be paid out in February.

New starters are also being offered the same winter payments at three and six months after their start date. Because the factory’s staff work shifts, the company has also installed microwaves and fridges stocked with a selection of ready meals so that no-one misses out on a free daily hot meal.

Chief executive officer John Hackett said: “People are struggling with the cost-of-living situation and we want to help. During Covid, we gave our key workers thank you payments as they were coming into the factory to keep us going, and our winter payments are a continuation of that policy.

“As for the hot meals we are offering, I’m a big believer that an army marches on its stomach! We have an excellent canteen here which is open for certain hours of the day, but we wanted to make sure those working on shifts didn’t miss out, which is why we are providing ready meals too.

“Recently everyone has been talking about heating or eating, that people might be facing a choice between heating their home or eating. That’s why all our employees are getting a hot meal once a day. We really want to look after our staff who work so hard for us.”

Graham Collier, who has worked at IVC Brunel Healthcare for 37 years, said: “I think it’s very good that they are doing this. It’s something that the company doesn’t have to do but they have chosen to do it. I speak to a lot of people and everybody is grateful, especially for the hot meals. That’s something that’s very, very good.”

Fellow employee Steve Ferriday said: “I think it’s a very good thing that the company is doing in these difficult times. Going to the canteen is a good break, you’re getting rid of the humdrum of work. It’s good to have a break for half an hour.”

In addition to its extra payments and hot meals for employees, IVC Brunel Healthcare has also agreed a pay increase for staff.

Mr Hackett said: “In these difficult times it’s imperative for companies to look after their hard-working employees as far as they possibly can. We’re proud to be able to give all our staff a pay rise as well as offering them hot meals and two winter payments. We hope that these things go some way to easing what I know is a tricky period for many people at home. We have quite a few families working with us at IVC Brunel Healthcare and I know that giving people free meals is really helping people get by.”

IVC Brunel Healthcare has a 30,000 square metre state-of-the-art base in Swadlincote and was crowned Manufacturer of the Year at the East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire Business Awards.

Holders of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the company is the biggest producer of vitamins and supplements in the UK, working on behalf of top UK retailers, and exporting to global international brands.

It produces four and a half billion tablets a year, including traditional herbal remedies such as echinacea and milk thistle and more than 250 different vitamin formulations.

During Covid the company saw demand for its health supplements increase by up to a whopping 400 per cent, as millions of people turned to its products to try and boost their immune system

With many health tablets containing anything up to 37 different ingredients, the company does the vast majority of its work in-house including development, testing, producing and packing.

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