Big-hearted construction firms give Glasgow charity a helping hand

A Greater Glasgow mental health charity is to host a thank you event for a group of consultants and contractors after they came together under hub West Scotland’s Helping Hands initiative to completely revamp the organisation’s aged premises as part of the social value being delivered on the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s £70 million Parkhead Health Centre build in Glasgow.

The Mental Health Network Greater Glasgow told Project Scotland that the work has left its members feeling comfortable in a safe environment, and that the contractors’ tireless work over a full month reminded them that they are valued.

The Helping Hands initiative allows organisations local to hub West Scotland’s construction projects to apply for funding to aid their operations.

Initially, the Mental Health Network had only applied for a kitchen revamp and ‘potentially’ some walls to be repainted and new blinds. However, so moved by the charity’s work was the hub West Scotland team, that Ann Jones, manager of the charity, was asked to create a wish-list of what (if money wasn’t an issue) they would like to see change, over and above their initial request. The list included new carpets, furniture, and decorating rooms.

Angeline Robertson, partnership director at hub West Scotland, told Project Scotland how the carpets, furniture, and wallpaper were aged, blinds were broken, and large unappealing strip lights featured throughout. “It’s a tough job for people who work there and those who attend have poor mental health at times, so we thought it would be good to make it as good as we could for both the staff and members – we all really took it to heart,” she explained.

The facility was completely stripped back to its shell and revamped, with a range of firms working across an entire month on the project. It now features high-quality carpets and furniture donated by a leading construction firm from their HQ, which is undergoing its own revamp. Walls have also been painted in comforting colours, TVs installed, and new kitchenware donated.

Revealing that the contractors were determined to deliver the best possible job, Angeline said the firms were offering to stay behind and come in on days they weren’t scheduled for.

“The construction industry is really ahead of the game in terms of social value and what it gives back,” she added, before revealing that the revamp is estimated to total £150,000. “This is a really good example of how companies on hub West’s supply chain came together and produced a brilliant project. This is our third Helping Hands project and each time we have been very proud of what we and our supply chain partners have achieved together.”

The work has transformed the operations of the charity, with Ann revealing there is a renewed feeling of pride amongst the staff with them now having the ability to host meetings in a new boardroom, and plans are being developed to welcome the local community in during the harsh winter months to use the facility as a warm space.

Much of the dilapidation was put down to the charity receiving the same amount of funding for a decade, despite rising costs.

“Now we’ve got the refurbishment, it’s taken a bit of the financial strain away from the charity,” Ann said. “It’s allowing us to buy some things and bring in sessional workers to do work with our members that we wouldn’t have been able to do before. We can now give them the nice things that they deserve.”

One example is an artist being brought on board, who will work with members to create a mural at the entrance, marking the final piece of work on the project. Ann explained that some members prefer to express their feelings through art, as opposed to speaking, so the opportunity has been well received.

The thank you event later this month is set to feature a buffet and social event for the consultants and contractors, with members of the charity taking to the stage to personally thank the individuals involved in the work and ensure they understand the benefit that their time and skill has given to all those at the charity.

“There’s still such a major stigma around mental health and it’s not a cute subject,” Ann explained. “For our members, it was recognition that actually, they are part of the community and it’s OK not to be OK, and that people have taken the time to complete our wishlist. The members all feel valued, and it’s given them such a sense of worth – the staff have benefited lots, but the members much, much more so.”

The Mental Health Network wasn’t the only organisation to benefit from the Helping Hands initiative in Glasgow’s east end, with hub West Scotland working with local school pupils and youngsters to aid them in the path to obtaining apprenticeships – with four already employed thanks to main contractor BAM, and a further 12 set to begin the programme.

Furthermore, the organisation is also working with alcohol and addiction groups to upskill members with an aim to be employed on the Parkhead Health Centre project and a career in construction.