The merchant sector has been applauded for taking such a proactive stance in encouraging builders, contractors and tradespeople to tackle the mental health crisis in the construction industry.
National construction charity Band of Builders (BoB) has been overwhelmed by the level of support from merchants including Jewson and Gibbs & Dandy who have thrown their weight behind its Big Brew campaign to highlight the issue. The campaign encourages workers from across the construction industry to come together and discuss mental health in general and their experiences over a cuppa.
Between Jewson and Gibbs & Dandy – as well as a number of independents – there have been more than 130 Big Brew events that have taken place across the UK this October. The figure is closer to 200 when events hosted by national partners - made up of manufacturers and suppliers including Resideo, DEWALT and Talasey - are included.
Peter Cape, Big Brew lead at Band of Builders - a registered charity that helps members of the UK construction industry battling illness or injury through the completion of practical projects carried out by volunteer tradespeople using donated materials – is astonished at just how well its first ever Big Brew has been received.
“The amount of support for the Big Brew has been incredible - with merchants leading in the way in helping to shine a light on the scale of mental health crisis in the construction industry,” said Peter. “Not only does it highlight the level of demand for the construction industry to have an outlet for recognising the issue, we’ve also been amazed at the willingness of firms and individuals to get behind it.
“What’s been fascinating has been the groundswell of support from small SME and owner-operator businesses that are at the coalface of construction. That’s where the likes of Jewson and Gibbs & Dandy must be applauded for facilitating events that can offer a genuine opportunity to tradespeople to go to a familiar location, meet up with other local contractors and potentially break the ice on mental health.”
The Big Brew runs throughout October and Peter added: “We are all acutely aware of the mental health crisis within construction. Suicide rates in the sector were already at one per day before the COVID pandemic, according to ONS figures, and it’s widely accepted that these have worsened to closer to two per day3.
“At Band of Builders, we see the struggles of our colleagues within our community on a regular basis and see peer-to-peer support as vital to addressing this crisis. That’s where the Big Brew comes in. By encouraging people to do such a basic thing – sharing a brew – we want to create a space where tradespeople and others in the sector can share experiences, break down taboos around mental health and support one another. The Big Brew isn’t just about a few one-off events but about creating something long term that will address one of the biggest issues in our industry all year round.”
What the Big Brew will fund
Big Brew events offer a place for people to meet and share a cuppa. They will also help raise funds to provide a range of mental health support services aimed at members of the UK construction industry and focused on supply chain companies, small businesses and the self-employed, who were recently discovered to be at higher risk than those working in larger organisations.
Although BoB has now sold out of Big Brew packs, donations can still be made at https://www.bandofbuilders.org/product/donation/ to fund support services that will include:
· Funding dedicated industry mental health support lines
· The provision of interim counselling services to support members of the UK construction industry
· The provision of counselling support for BoB beneficiaries and volunteers
· The provision of 300 free mental health awareness course places for small and medium-sized businesses and the self-employed. BoB will also work with fellow construction charity The Lighthouse Club and partners on the Beacons campaign, which aims to increase the provision of, and access to, regional peer support groups
Know your wellbeing STATS
Peter Cape added that, as part of the campaign, the Big Brew will encourage tradespeople to remember their wellbeing STATS and support one another:
S – Support each other
T – Talk about it
A – Always ask twice
T – Take it seriously
S – Stop the cycle
He said: “Wellbeing STATS around mental health are vital, and we hope that the Big Brew will be a way for merchants to start opening up, even just a little bit, because we all need to do everything we can to start reversing the mental health crisis in the construction sector.” Support the Big Brew at https://www.bandofbuilders.org/the-big-brew/
NOTES TO EDITORS
1 Data from HSE: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2ea9a4_1123897588094d4db915a481782c15bc.pdf
2 Finding from a survey jointly organised by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) 3 https://www.gcu.ac.uk/theuniversity/universitynews/2021-mentalhealthofcon