WORKERS at a North-East call centre are preparing to ring the changes, thanks to a pioneering new health pact.

The scheme aimed at promoting a healthier lifestyle at work has been introduced at the Orange Communications Centre, in Peterlee.

The project, the first of its kind in any of Orange centres, focuses on how lifestyle can affect health and wellbeing.

The main thrust of the strategy will be centred on coronary heart disease, stroke, and mental health.

To ensure the scheme's effectiveness, Orange has teamed up with the Health Promotion Department at Easington and Sedgefield Primary Care Groups to begin a Health At Work awards scheme at the centre.

Neil Miles, head of the centre, which employs 1,400 staff, said: "We recognise that our people are our biggest asset. A healthy and motivated workforce is critical to the success of delivering a first-class service to our customers, but the scheme is also about being a caring and responsible employer.'' He said the company already had some key developments in place including subsidising meals, healthcare plans, an employee support line, discounts on access to exercise facilities and occupational health advisors on all sites.

Chief executive of Easington Primary Care Group, Dr Roger Bolas, said: "Good health and feeling good about yourself, starts with people having the ability to make informed choices about their lives.

"Having a healthy work environment can offer support to individuals, stimulate self confidence and offer a sense of well being.'' Occupational health advisor at Orange, Maggie Curry, said: "This is about offering every individual information, and the opportunity to make personal choices about their lifestyle."