BUSINESS leaders are being offered a support network at one of the most stressful times in modern history to be managing a team.

Dorset Chamber has launched an initiative to offer respectful and confidential support from peers.

The scheme, Got Your 6 – shortened to GU6 – is named after a term used by World War II fighter pilots, who protected the “backs” of fellow pilots in the vulnerable rear “six o’clock” position.

Several chamber board directors, ambassadors and members, as well as chief executive Ian Girling, have qualified as mental health first aiders thanks to Ouch Training and are ready to become GU6 “champions”.

The initiative is being supported by law firm Lester Aldridge.

GU6 was developed by past president and board member Liz Willingham, who feels business leaders are often forgotten in conversations about mental health.

She said: “The wellbeing of our workforces is thankfully now higher on the agenda, and rightly so, but I have become increasingly concerned about the lack of support specifically for employers themselves who are often singlehandedly shouldering huge pressures from their businesses and the teams they employ.

“It can be a very lonely place. To be in good shape, our leaders need to be effective, resilient, and able to function with clarity.”

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Matthew Barrow, managing partner at Lester Aldridge, said: “Mental health awareness is something that we are passionate about and the opportunity to support this initiative felt totally right for us.

“It’s such a critical subject to grasp right now.

“We encourage anyone to reach out and talk to someone if they feel they are struggling. I hope GU6 can provide real support to our local business heroes.”

A section of the chamber website hosts resources and information aimed at helping business leaders thrive. GU6 champions are listed here and can be reached via private message via their Linked In profiles or through the Dorset Chamber team.

The initial champions are Chris Kane of Greendale Construction, Liz Willingham of Liz Lean PR, Ian Jones of Bournemouth University, Tony Brown of Y-Not Finance, Warren Munson of Inspire/Evolve, Su Turner of Ouch Training Team, Caron Khan of Caron Khan Consultancy, Julie Callejo of Livewell Dorset, Elaine Wilkins of Anthony Batty & Company, Ian Girling of Dorset Chamber, Simon Boyd of REIDSteel, Mark Norton of Composite Profiles UK, Paul Kinkaid of Selfless Leadership and Kelly Marsden of the HR Team.