A day in the life of
Last year, our Construction Industry Helpline supported over 1500 construction families in crisis and over 400 families were granted £705,000 of emergency financial help. Of the 1500 callers, 1100 of these were given advice and support on issues ranging from stress and depression to legal, debt management and taxation advice.
We caught up with Julie Buckingham, the charity Welfare Manager and Adrianne, one of our call handlers at the Helpline to find out more about the variety of calls received and how the charity has been able to make a difference to our construction colleagues in need.
Julie Buckingham, Welfare Manager
“Our 24/7 confidential helpline provides access to a portfolio of support services for all construction workers and their families in the UK and Ireland. The helpline is constantly evolving to meet the needs of those who need our support and we know that to really help, we need to do more than just provide financial assistance. Mental health and welling is a major issue within the construction industry, so all our call handlers are trained in mental health first aid. In a recent questionnaire to our beneficiaries, we asked them to tell us if they are or had experienced signs of stress and anxiety because of their accident, injury or illness. Over 80% of respondents said that they experienced an emotion linked with mental health It’s important to stress the confidentiality of the helpline, for many, this may be the first time they have spoken to someone and we realise that taking that first step isn’t always easy.”
Adrianne, Helpline Call Handler
“Here, at the Construction Industry Helpline we receive a huge variety of calls. We are usually the first port of call for people who are seeking support and who are working, or have worked in the construction industry. Obviously there are many issues that can arise following life changing accidents or illnesses.
Financial aid is requested for a variety of reasons. Some call in for assistance with day to day living costs and some need financial support to assist them through a period of illness that incurs additional costs such as travelling to hospitals for appointments and treatments.
This is where we can step in to consider either a monthly grant or a one off lump sum to help during a financial crisis. We also offer a wide variety of mental health and wellbeing interventions and support.
One call we have taken at the helpline was for a Muslim gentleman who needed help paying for his funeral, as he had no living relatives. He had been diagnosed with cancer and had been told he had little time left. Due to his faith the application process needed to be processed quickly because he would need to be buried within 24 hours following his passing. We helped the gentleman complete the application over the phone and then it was sent to our welfare team for approval. This meant that he was able to plan and pay for his own funeral which took a huge weight off his shoulders during his last weeks.
When discussing financial help with a caller, we use a system called the seven areas of need which allows us to gauge what type of support people may need. Many of the calls initially present themselves as needing financial support, but when we start to discuss their circumstances in more detail, we often find out that the caller is under huge amounts of stress because of their financial situation and that they could benefit from receiving additional legal / tax advice or wellbeing counselling.
Something that we hear a lot is that callers have spoken to their GP about their problems but that support isn’t quickly available due to long waiting lists. We are in a position to offer quick access for up to six sessions of telephone counselling.
Recently, we set up counselling for a family following a traumatic event which left the father/husband paralysed. One family member witnessed the event and the accident affected the whole family, We were able to pay £1000 for counselling so the family could attend the sessions together. For callers that need support with very specific mental health issues we can access specialist charities such as the Samaritans and Mind. We can also signpost people to local befriending services or organisations dealing with specific mental disorders.
In the past few weeks we were asked for urgent help when a construction worker attempted to take his own life whilst on site. His colleagues witnessed the incident and were obviously very distressed and upset by what they had seen. We were able to arrange for the Samaritans to hold open sessions for everyone on site to offer one to one support and coping mechanisms to deal with what they witnessed. We were also able to refer the organisation involved to a local training provider who offer mental health first aid training This training provides individuals with the skills needed to offer first hand support to those who may be experiencing mental health and wellbeing issues.
Each day is different on the helpline, but something that we pride ourselves on and something that personally gives me immense job satisfaction is knowing that we will always find a way to help”.
Delivering emergency financial support to construction families in need is the corner stone of our charitable work, but in addition to providing emergency financial aid, we also offer free and confidential advice on a portfolio of support services including:
- Occupational health and wellbeing issues as an employee or an employer
- Support and advice for sufferers of stress and addiction related illness
- Advice on matters ranging from divorce to employment
- Advice on specific tax related issues concerning employment within the construction sector
- Help to manage and reschedule debt
- Help to understand the benefits system and entitlement especially if caring for others
- Support on career changes, especially after accident or injury preventing return to your original job
Last year, our Construction Industry Helpline supported 1500 families in crisis and 400 construction families received a total of £705,000 in emergency financial aid. 1100 cases related to mental health and wellbeing advice, debt management and tax support and legal assistance.*
We are also strengthening our relationships with other charities such as MacMillan Cancer Research, MIND, Samaritans and Citizens Advice to ensure that we reach the people that desperately need our help.