Housebuilder extends partnership with Samaritans

Michael Harvey-Browne, head of commercial at Cala; Marie-Anne Phillips, The Land Trust; and Maithili, Samaritans volunteer at the unveiling of the Samaritans story bench, designed by Maithili, at Eashing Fields near Cala’s Ockford Park development

CALA Homes has announced that it is extending its partnership with national suicide prevention charity, Samaritans, for a fourth year.

The firm said that the extension will allow its team to continue raising funds to support the charity’s work across the UK whilst also strengthening employee mental health and wellbeing.

Now in its third year, the partnership has seen Cala contribute more than £456,000. This has been achieved through a combination of corporate donations and employee fundraising across each of its eight regions and two head offices.

The contributions equate to the cost of responding to 90,000 calls for help, and the funds raised are helping to ensure that Samaritans can continue to be there for people, whatever they’re facing, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The formation of the partnership began in 2020 following Samaritans’ call for better mental and emotional health support for middle-aged men. One of the most high-risk groups for suicide, they remain three times more likely to take their own lives than women. Cala Homes said it was keen to not only support the charity, but also strengthen the mental health and wellbeing of its own team and subcontractor partners.

Samaritans has provided listening and emotional resilience training to help equip Cala’s 1,300 employees with the skills to take care of their own wellbeing, as well as being more aware of their co-workers’ mental wellbeing. Cala has started 2023 with a focus on mental health in its construction roadshows led by CEO Kevin Whitaker and Cala’s leadership team, which have been delivered to more than 300 site and construction teams.

Over 100 Cala employees have also undertaken mental health first aider training. Cala employees and subcontractors have taken on a variety of fundraising challenges, events and initiatives throughout the partnership, including golf days, marathons, bake sales and a virtual relay race from Aberdeen to Farnham and back. Cala’s south home counties commercial team raised more than £18,000 last year after trekking for 15 hours from their Godalming development to their Lancing site – covering 42 miles across the region.

Alongside feats of endurance and other fundraising initiatives, Cala’s construction team and their subcontractors helped refurbish Samaritans’ Horsham, Guildford, and Aberdeen branches, utilising their skills and expertise for the charity.

Kevin Whitaker, chief executive of Cala, said, “We are proud to support Samaritans and the essential services they provide for people across the country. By extending for another year, not only are we supporting this charity to help make a real difference, the fundraising provides an opportunity for our people to socialise, build team spirit and challenge themselves.

“In addition to supporting our own staff, we want to continue to extend support to the many subcontractors that we have on our sites every day across the UK, giving access to wellbeing and mental health assistance. We also think it is important to have open conversations about mental health, particularly within the construction industry. The charity’s work is a lifeline for many and we look forward to the partnership continuing for another year.”

Sonya Trivedy, executive director for income at Samaritans, added, “We are incredibly grateful to Cala, who have contributed a phenomenal £456,000 in three years. Cala has also raised awareness of mental health and wellbeing among their own staff and subcontractors. In recent years the world has become, for many, a more uncertain and changeable place. Anyone can find themselves struggling to cope. We are delighted that Cala is extending our fundraising partnership to support us in continuing to be there for anyone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”