By Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity
Working in construction can be extremely rewarding but also has its challenges. Over 87% of the workforce is male and over 50% of the sector is made up of self employed, agency staff or on zero hour contract workers. This means that it’s not always easy to get the message of support to those that need it the most.
World Suicide Prevention Day is just around the corner and for those that know me, they will be aware that I have voiced my opinions that such days should be scrapped. Controversial I know. Don’t get me wrong, of course we need to raise awareness of the issues, but for us, its world suicide prevention day every day. EVERY DAY.
Equally, a huge amount of time and financial commitment is being put into more and more research and to my mind we already have a very good understanding of the issues contributing to poor wellbeing in our industry. I would much rather see that investment put into more pro active interventions and solutions that help solve the problem rather than continually explaining what the problem is.
That’s exactly what we’re doing as a charity right now. We’re providing a huge range of proactive and reactive resources that can be accessed free of charge by any worker or their family employed in construction or allied trades, this includes the self employed, subcontractors or agency workers. We’ve also recognised that people choose to seek support in different ways, so whether it’s reaching out by telephone, text or face to face, we have everything covered.
Our 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline offers free and confidential emotional, physical and financial support and this is complemented by our free text HARDHAT service which gives immediate access to text back counselling. For those that prefer a face to face conversation we have 160 Lighthouse Beacons where people can drop in and share their concerns in a safe and non judgemental environment.
Our free Self Support App is packed with wellbeing information and has signposting to over 3000 accredited organisations to get additional professional support.
Again, completely free are our tutor led online Wellbeing Masterclasses. They are CPD accredited and cover topics such as coping with stress, anxiety, banter vs bullying and financial management to name but a few.
Our current campaign, ‘Help Inside the Hard Hat’ aims to raise awareness of the issues in our industry and signpost to support and it has been great to see the campaign messages on posters, site hoardings, and even vehicles and plant.
The campaign has recently taken to the road and we’re visiting construction sites and builders’ trade outlets across the country and these have been incredibly well received. We made a conscious decision to ensure that our team are from the trades and they are able to share their lived experiences with poor mental health in a down to earth and relatable way.
We’ve recently developed the campaign to include assistance to companies to develop and execute positive wellbeing strategies in their organisation, free resources to support wellbeing initiatives and the development of on site wellbeing champions to ensure welfare and wellbeing is central to cultural change within the organisation and industry.
We’re delighted to become a partner of the Working Minds campaign aimed at supporting SME employers in construction. By working together we can reach out to the site operatives and the ‘boots on the ground’ workforce that so desperately need our support.
As a charity we are dedicated to the Construction sector in the Uk and Ireland . We provide 24/7 free and confidential emotional, physical and financial support to construction workers, allied trades and their families.
All our hard work as a charity, together with companies in the industry to improve our workforce wellbeing really is making a difference. Last month we received over 300 calls to our helpline on matters ranging from emotional and physical wellbeing through to requests for financial assistance to help feed families and pay bills. I don’t see this as a negative, it means that people are actually reaching out for support rather than suffering in silence and this is a positive change in behaviour.
There is no doubt that there is still much work to be done and as well as a legal responsibility, we all have a collective moral responsibility to ensure that mental health in our industry is treated with the same importance and respect as physical safety for both our current and future generations.
If you or anyone you know is struggling, you can reach out for free and confidential support now.
24/7 Construction Industry Helplines; 0345 605 1956, (UK) 1800 939 122 (ROI)
Text HARDHAT to 85258 (UK) 50808 (ROI)
Via our website
More about Bill
Bill gained over 20 years experience holding senior positions in blue chip giants Hewlett-Packard and Sage plc. He has a passion for customer service and has a wealth of experience across the major business disciplines of marketing, sales, operations and finance. Bill trained as an accountant and holds diplomas from INSEAD, Cranfield University as well as CIMA qualifications.
He joined the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity as CEO in 2013 and since then has played a major role in significantly growing the profile and significance of its charitable work within the construction community. Bill is a qualified Mental Health First Aid instructor and offers expert opinion and comment to the construction trade media on industry related wellbeing and protection issues.