We are all probably aware of the ongoing publicity around mental health issues and people’s reluctance to come forward and speak when they have a problem – especially men and boys.

Women and men both suffer; in fact statistics say that 1 in 5 women will suffer from some form of mental health disorder compared to 1 in 8 men. However, when it comes to suicide, there is a very worrying swing the other way. According to the Mental health Foundation, of the nearly 6,000 suicides that occurred in the UK in 2017, around three times as many men committed suicide compared to women.

The nature of the haulage business means that for many staff it can be a lonely occupation. Many hours and days on the road, family left to cope when husbands or wives are away, and the general day to day stress of driving for a living can take its toll.

So, when Watts Truck & Van were asked by Ferryman whether we would like to partner them in their Mental Health Awareness campaign, there was absolutely no doubt in our minds that we would join them.

Why did Ferryman decide to put Mental Health Awareness images on their trucks?

Company / Finance Director Cathy Hamar-Davies explained.

“We have vehicles with great big blank spaces on the doors. I wanted to fill those spaces so I asked for a new design to go on them.”

Various ideas were considered. Being in Wales a Welsh language theme was thrown into the discussions as well as other more fun based ideas. However, after discussing them all, it was decided that not only did they want the space to be filled, but Ferryman wanted the space to be filled with something that was meaningful and useful.

Transport Manager Richard Morris had only been in the role for a short while and when he joined the business he made a point of getting around and chatting to all the staff. These informal chats were a great way of not only getting to know the staff, but also of finding out if they had any concerns or worries, in work or outside of it.

The outcome of those chats, combined with their increasing awareness of mental health campaigns resulted in Ferryman deciding that mental health was the best use of the space. After all, the trucks will be driving up and down the country getting the message out there.

“It can be a solitary profession being out on the road” said Cathy, “but it’s not just the drivers, everyone can have their issues, whether it’s age related, family worries or financial.” 

“Family is important and we often don’t think about them enough. When a driver is away for long periods of time, it’s not just them that suffers, it’s the family too.”

She went on to say that there are issues that people tend not to consider when thinking about mental health in the haulage industry. The pressure on drivers is much more than it used to be.  Roads are so much busier meaning there are more accidents and traffic queues. Roadworks can sometimes mean miles of stationary traffic. It all takes its toll. A driver may get stuck in bad traffic or an accident which could mean hours of delay. Meanwhile the family are at home wondering when their loved one will get home, whether they have been involved in an accident and what are they going to do if they have been. The pressure is on the whole family.

The Way Forward for Ferryman

There is increasing pressure on the government to introduce legislation that forces employers to have mental health policies in place and ensure that they have someone trained in mental health for staff to talk to. Alongside that is a demand for a change in the law to give mental health first aid equal status to physical first aid.

Ferryman have decided not to wait for new legislation or law changes. They plan to put mental health policies in place as it is important for their staff and their families. The plan is to build on those initial chats and turn them into regular occurrences; giving drivers a chance to talk and get things off their chest. But more importantly, it’s a chance for Ferryman senior management to see their drivers on a regular basis, giving them a chance to notice any small changes that may indicate that someone is perhaps having problems.

“Often, a lot of these things are unofficial” said Cathy “There is no diagnosis of depression, people may not even consider themselves anxious or depressed but their behaviour gives away that something is wrong. We want to catch those issues or problems before they get too big. We want our staff to be able to come and talk to us.”

The regular reviews will be extended across the business to include office, warehouse and security staff – anyone who works at Ferryman.

Watts Trucks & Ferryman

90% of Ferryman’s trucks are DAF hence the partnership with Watts over the Mental Health Campaign.

They have been involved with Watts Truck & Van for many years and have always had their trucks maintained and serviced by Watts, but the relationship has really thrived and grown over the last 4 years. A key part of that relationship is Kristian Seddon, Commercial Vehicle Consultant at Newport. “We wanted a closer relationship with a local company and Kristian and Watts have given us that,” said Cathy. “They don’t give us the hard sell and are always supportive. They go above and beyond to help us out.”


Pontllanfraith based Ferryman is 30 years old this year!.

The haulage and warehousing company started out back in 1989 and became a limited company in 1991. The business has gone from strength to strength and has grown considerably since those early years. Now employing around 50 staff the company provides haulage services, (including same day deliveries), warehousing and contract distribution services.

Their success over the years has enabled them to purchase their 9.5 acre site and they now also sub let areas to other businesses, one of which is a children’s nursery, which has obvious benefits for staff who require childcare services!

Ferryman are a member of The Pallet Network (TPN) who won the Pallet Network of the Year award at this year’s Multimodal awards.

As well as being an award-winning company themselves The Pallet Network (TPN) have their own awards that celebrate outstanding performances in logistics throughout the network.

At the TPN awards in April this year, Ferryman was one of only 8 companies in the TPN Network to be awarded the TPN KPI award. The TPN KPI Awards are to reward elite performance based on KPI data and winners have consistently achieved 99% on compliance criteria throughout 2018.

Mental Health Awareness – It’s OK to not be OK


In October 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a stark warning:

We have just 12 years to mitigate the risk of catastrophic climate change and reverse the destruction of natural habitats.

We must make the most out of precious resources, waste as little as possible and find ways of turning the waste we do create into new wealth.

The following month, in November 2018, Business in the Community, of which Watts Truck & Van is a member held their first Waste to Wealth summit. Over 200 leaders from business, government, academia and civil society came together to tackle the challenge, putting forward proposals that will help increase resource productivity and reduce avoidable waste.

Watts Truck & Van is one of an increasing number of businesses in Wales who have made the commitment to:

  • Set targets to improve the productivity of resources that are key to the business
  • Work collectively to double the nation’s resource productivity and eliminate avoidable waste by 2030, contributing in a way that is most relevant to the business
  • Redesign how resources are used in products, services and operations
  • Collaborate across the organisations, value chains and sectors
  • Reconvene and report on progress annually to share learning and demonstrate results

Even though Watts Truck & Van were already environmentally aware and doing things you would expect of a responsible business such as recycling, as part of this commitment the senior management team have looked further at the processes and systems across all their sites, reviewing existing practices and identifying where changes can be made.

Some of these changes are not unexpected and are normally the first on the list to review when looking at energy usage; changing to more energy efficient lighting and using timers and motion sensors to control lighting, being a prime example. Checking and changing heating systems to ensure more efficiency and less waste is another. Obviously, reviewing storage systems and rolling out best practice across all sites is a key area where streamlined processes and reduced waste can be achieved. Reducing paper usage is another common easy way of reducing waste.

However, when it comes to fuel efficiencies, as well as reviewing company car policies and ensuring their delivery vehicles are as fuel efficient as possible, there are more innovative things being used by Watts Truck & Van to improve their efficiency.

  • Site layouts have been reviewed to minimise vehicle movements
  • Use of software to give an overview of vehicle telematics data allowing a summary of vehicle fuel efficiencies and identifying where improvements can be made

In addition, the continuation of innovative developments of DAF vehicles help Watts Truck & Van meet their commitments

  • A surcharge on certain DAF parts means that users are encouraged to return the unit being replaced for overhaul and return to the market, thus extending their life.
  • A DAF voucher system has been introduced for new vehicles which is redeemable against driver training to ensure they get the maximum fuel efficiencies from their new vehicles
  • Information systems in the latest DAF vehicles provide drivers with instant data on performance to enable better fuel consumption

With the introduction of DAF electric trucks, Watts have introduced additional technician training to ensure staff are fully up to speed and able to support the maintenance and repair of these new electric vehicles.

Watts Truck & Van is committed to the Waste to Wealth initiative and as such, the Environment and ISO14001.2015 are standard agenda items at management meetings. In addition, there is an annual review to ensure that the company’s Environmental Management System remains suitable, adequate and effective.

Some changes may be small, but they can make a huge difference in waste management and recycling. Others, like introducing new electronic systems may take longer to implement. However, if all businesses try and begin to make changes there can be change and an impact on the current climate change issues.

Did you know?

  • The UK produces more than 200m tonnes of waste each year
  • 28m tonnes comes from commercial and industrial waste
  • 27m tonnes comes from household waste
  • UK businesses could save £7.2bn by improving the productivity of energy resources
  • Reducing waste an save an organisation up to £1000 per year per employee

Click here for more information on the Waste to Wealth initiative

Business in the Community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. It was created nearly 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales to champion responsible business.

It inspires, engages and challenges members and mobilises that collective strength as a force for good in society to

  • Create a skilled, inclusive workforce today and for the future
  • Build thriving communities in which to live and work
  • Innovate to repair and sustain our planet