THE Dorset-based arts and crafts chain Hobbycraft and the children’s hospice charity Julia’s House have been named among the UK’s best places to work.

Hobbycraft, headquartered in Christchurch, was named the fourth best big company to work for and the third best retailer to work for.

In the past year, it has supported staff with an “artisan” programme – aimed at nurturing talent in the business – and activities during the pandemic.

Chris Fenlon, retail and people director at Hobbycraft, said: “After what has been a very tough year, we are very pleased that our colleagues feel more valued and engaged than ever before.

“This highest offered accreditation is rewarded to organisations with the highest Best Companies Index scores who care about doing things right, value its people, understands the importance of a truly engaged workforce, and are ‘world class’ to work for.”

The top places to work in Dorset and the New Forest 2020

Julia’s House was rated the 13th best charity to work for and 70th in the “large companies” section of the Best Companies survey. It was the highest ranked hospice or palliative care charity. 

The charity said it had retained its “outstanding” rating despite being severely affected by lockdown and social distancing, with up to 60 per cent of its staff furloughed at one point and its shops closed for months.

Its human resources director, Diane de Souza, said: “It’s been an extraordinary year and our staff have been amazingly resilient.

“Whether they were furloughed or carried on working through lockdown, it’s been a very tough 12 months for our team.

“They’ve had to cope with the closure of our offices, hospices and shops on top of the home life challenges we’ve all had to face, such as not being able to see family and friends and home-schooling.

“We’re so proud of everyone’s contribution and also thrilled that in turn, our staff have felt valued and supported by the organisation during such a challenging time and helped us maintain our outstanding Best Companies ranking.”

The charity developed a wellbeing programme during the pandemic, providing support on topics from working from home to relaxation techniques and yoga.

The report defined a large company as one employing 200-1,999 full-time staff and a big one as employing at least 2,000.

The top 25 big companies – several of which employs people locally were as follows:

1 Roche

2 Childbase Partnership

3 Arcadis UK

4 Hobbycraft

5 Admiral Group

6 UK Power Networks

7 Skipton Building Society

8 Coventry Building Society

9 BT Consumer

10 Tata Consultancy Services

11 VINCI Construction UK

12 Openreach


14 Barchester Healthcare

15 River Island

16 ISG

17 NHS Business Services Authority

18 Cox Automotive

19 KP Snacks

20 J Murphy & Sons

21 AWE

22 Roadchef

23 Mears Group

24 THG

25 Circle Health Group.