The increase in calls for help last year is thought to be at least partly due to the development of the construction industry helpline app.
The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity’s latest annual impact report details the increase in demand for its helpline services, the introduction of free wellbeing sessions, the mental health first aiders programme and the development of the smartphone application.
During 2019, 2615 cases were presented to their helpline, an increase of 57% on 2018; 445 of these were from families requiring emergency financial aid and 2,170 were for support on a variety of wellbeing issues.
However, the introduction of professional case workers, who know their way around the state benefits system, means that the organisation is now managing to do more for less, it says.
Sarah Bolton, head of charitable services, said: “Our case workers manage some of the more complex cases and can harness all available government and local support before releasing charitable funds. As well as ensuring better financial stability for our beneficiaries, this strategy also means that we now deliver more support, to a higher quality and at a lower cost per case”.
One of the key findings of this year’s report was that 62% of emergency financial grants were to help pay for daily living costs including buying food, paying utility bills, and clearing rent arrears and debt.
With more than half of the construction workforce either self-employed, agency workers or on zero hour contracts, many live from one pay day to the next, which means that if things go wrong, the situation quickly spirals out of control.
To address the need for better financial management, the charity has added a financial management training session to its range of free wellbeing courses.
The report also identifies that of the 209 cases reporting a death or bereavement, 21 of these were due to suicide, suggesting a need for better mental wellbeing support in the industry.
Bill Hill, chief executive of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity said: “I have sleepless nights trying to think of how we can get our services to individuals in crisis before they take their life. I am convinced that if given the opportunity we could manage to turn some away from suicide. With over 500 suicides every year in construction we are all morally obligated to be on the look-out for individuals that are struggling. However, looking back at 2019 and the work we have already done this year, we are now delivering a huge portfolio of free and widely available pro-active resources and training to ensure that organisations and individuals have many pathways to support when they need it.”
The charity may not be able to do so much good work in 2020 and 2021, however, because the Covid-19 lockdown has impacted fund-raising activities.
Bill Hill added: ”All of our charity events have been cancelled and with other companies unable to fundraise for us in many of the traditional ways, we are anticipating a massive income shortfall of £1m. In April we launched our Crisis Appeal to address this issue and I am pleased to advise that almost £500,000 has been raised to date. I am always humbled by the way our industry pulls together in times of need and this has been no exception. We still have a long way to go to achieve our 2020 fundraising goal and secure our charitable services but I am confident that our industry will support us all the way.”