Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity’s latest campaign

Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity’s latest campaign

With the pandemic placing issues of mental health into sharp focus the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity’s latest campaign is guiding the industry’s workforce towards help and support. Professional Builder’s Lee Jones talks to Bill Hill.

“Our mission is quite clear,” declares Bill Hill CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity: “That no construction worker or their family should be alone in a crisis.” It is for that reason that the charity’s proud history as a benevolent organisation, providing material financial support to those in need, has in recent years been complemented by a growing and extensive range of mental health services.

The need for this provision is indeed pressing, because the statistics reveal that that construction industry is losing two people to suicide each and every day, and a study recently undertaken in partnership with Caledonian University has further demonstrated that it’s a number which is stubbornly refusing to improve. “It’s fair to say that within occupations like civil engineers and architects we have made progress,” reveals Bill, “but when it comes to the boots on the ground the incidents of workers taking their own lives has actually gone up. It’s clear that the message is simply not getting through to that demographic and that’s where Help Inside the Hard Hat came from. With an estimated 53 per cent of those earning their living in the sector either self-employed, agency workers, or operating on zero hours contracts, that’s a huge number, and precisely the people who need the help the most.”

All of the artwork associated with the Help Inside the Hard Hat campaign is free to download from the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity website and includes a series of posters. The abiding principle is to raise the awareness of suicide as an issue in the sector, and the financial and emotional triggers that can drive individuals down that path, whilst at the same time directing those in need towards what’s available.

“One of the most encouraging aspects of the campaign so far has been the willingness of companies to use the posters on the outside of hoardings as well as around their sites,” enthuses Bill. “It sends a message to the public that this is an industry which is trying to look after its people, which is imperative if we are to present a positive image and attract more young people into built environment occupations.”

Moreover, with a current workforce that is 87 per cent male, attracting more women into the industry will not only address a worsening skills crisis but, it is hoped, could also change cultural attitudes and mindsets. Put frankly, the ‘pull yourself together’ reflex action that is often a feature of the male psyche can be detrimental in confronting mental health issues. Continues Bill: “One of the few positive things to come out of Covid is that construction has proved that it can accommodate flexible working, and that will be beneficial in addressing the gender imbalance, whilst hygiene and welfare standards have been improved across the board.”

The first pillar of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity’s support is the 24/7 helpline with the number of callers to that service requiring counselling for the sake of their mental well-being increasingly exponentially. As a result, the range of resources that the charity delivers in that field has developed in parallel. When sorrows come they come not single spies but in battalions, and it is invariably the case that anxiety, stress or even suicidal thoughts are precipitated by underlying financial or relationship concerns. For just that reason the pandemic saw the introduction of full-time case workers on to the helpline staff with a brief to take a holistic approach to an individual and their circumstances in order to build a package of care.

“Our case workers are trained to ensure that an individual is moved to a more sustainable position before they are discharged, and to ensure that they have access to other organisations that might be in a position to help them. There’s a lot of great charities around doing good work, whether it’s the Samaritans, Relate, Anxiety UK or the various substance abuse specialists. There are, in fact, thousands of bodies that can provide help and that’s where our app is a big bonus. It provides the user with some easily digestible information on the condition they have, as well as coping strategies and, in addition to our own contacts, we now have over 3,000 organisations included as well as a geo-locator that identifies the nearest sources of support. The app has been a useful tool in encouraging first contact, providing a softer point of entry for individuals who still might be adversely affected by the stigma attached to the problems they’re facing.”

Moreover, the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity is proactively engaging in a whole series of training initiatives on such topics as building resilience, managing stress, and work/life balance, finances and more. Just as with the helpline and app, this whole suite of courses is delivered free of charge to the end user, and the take up has been substantial.

“Awareness campaigns like Help Inside the Hard Hat are absolutely vital,” concludes Bill. “What keeps us awake at night is the idea that somebody could take their own life because they didn’t know we were there to help or were reluctant to make contact. We’re expanding our range of services even further next year. There will be a network of Lighthouse Beacons, for example, which will be drop in centres, where support can be accessed in person, and will be particularly useful for people who are working away from home. In addition, we’re focusing on apprentices, with a pilot programme in London across five colleges where tutors will be given mental health training and vulnerable students will have access to life coaches. Everything we’re doing refers back to that guiding principle – that you don’t have to be alone in a crisis.”

For further information on the Help Inside the Hard Hat campaign visit

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