Lighthouse charity reports 57% rise in calls to its helpline

Bill Hill

THE Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity has published its fourth annual impact report, which revealed a 57% rise in calls to its helpline in 2019.

The report details the increase in demand for the 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline services, as well the introduction of free wellbeing sessions, a national project to increase the number of mental health first aiders, and the development of a helpline app.

2019 saw £1.221 million spent on charitable services, including £723,607 of charitable giving to families, £416,372 on education and training and £81,287 on health and safety innovation.

During the year, 2,615 cases were presented to the helpline, 445 of which were from families requiring emergency financial aid.

Despite the huge increase in cases, the charity has reported a 62% reduction in the average cost per case compared to 2018, due largely to the introduction of professional case workers.

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 report findings was that 62% of emergency financial grants were to help pay for daily living costs including food, utility bills and clearing rent arrears and debt.

The charity has added a financial management training session to its range of free wellbeing courses. These sessions will provide information, support and guidance to help prevent situations escalating to crisis point and will stand alongside the helpline app, which already has a section dedicated to financial wellbeing.

The report also identifies that of the 209 cases reporting a death or bereavement, 21 of these were due to suicide, highlighting the need for better proactive mental wellbeing support in the industry.

Bill Hill, CEO 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.”

Speaking of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the charity’s income for 2020, 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 £1 million. In April we launched our Crisis Appeal to address this issue and I am pleased to advise that almost £500,00 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.”