Construction sector charity offers ‘beacon of hope’ to industry

Bill Hill

THE Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity has revealed it responded to 2,399 families in crisis last year.

The organisation said the number of cases that required to be managed by professional case workers increased by 70% due to the complexity of the issues presented.

As the Covid pandemic took hold, many callers to the charity’s helpline struggled to understand their entitlements such as the government furlough scheme and other benefits. Lighthouse case workers leveraged £562,000 from other sources including benefit entitlements that would have otherwise gone unclaimed before releasing additional charitable grants to support the most needy.

The charity has also spent £224,229 on wellbeing education and training. After a short delay to adapt the Mental Health First Aid Instructor courses for online delivery, the CITB-funded Building Mental Health programme soon restarted. Since the programme started, 214 instructors have been trained.

As part of its support strategy, the charity also started offering all of its construction-focused training free of charge and augmented all the courses for online delivery. 1,535 people received free wellbeing training.

Supported by COINS, a further £87,000 was invested in innovation, specifically on the Construction Industry Helpline app, which complements the charity’s 24/7 helpline in offering information and guidance in the areas of mental, physical and financial wellbeing. During 2020, the app welcomed new features such as a geo locator to ensure users are provided with support in their local area and unbiased financial information.

A free phone helpline number was also launched for the construction community in the Republic of Ireland.

Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, said, “Thanks to the support of the Construction Industry Federation in Ireland we can now ensure that our construction colleagues in Ireland have access to the same support enjoyed by the workforce in the UK. This launch could not have come at a better time.

“At the beginning of this year we could never have predicted the huge fundraising and operational challenges that lay ahead. When the Covid-19 pandemic started we quickly realised how heavily we relied on income from fundraising events. To try and compensate for our events shortfall we launched our Crisis Appeal in April and it was humbling to witness the generosity of so many people when the industry itself was already suffering.

“A staggering £500,000 was raised through our appeal and this enabled us to galvanise our efforts to ensure that we provided as many freely available and pro-active resources to the industry as possible. We know that the Covid crisis is not over and as a charity we expect to see the repercussions for some time, but we have been able to offer a real beacon of hope for our construction community. Our mission is to ensure that no construction worker or their family is alone in a crisis and by focussing all of our efforts on delivering free pro-active and re-active support services to our construction community we can continue to provide a feeling of hope to those that need support and prevent situations escalating to crisis point.”