Demand rapidly increases for Lighthouse construction charity

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The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity has published its annual impact report which has highlighted a huge increase in demand for 24/7 construction industry helpline services

The construction charity, Lighthouse, has published its 2019 annual impact report which communicates to the industry, supporters and stakeholders, how it is helping to make a difference to in the construction community.

The report details the increase in demand for its helpline services, the introduction of free wellbeing sessions, the success of a major national project to increase the number of mental health first aiders and the development of their construction industry helpline app.

2019 saw £1.221m spent on charitable services, which included £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, an increase of 57% on the previous year, 445 of these were from families requiring emergency financial aid and 2,170 were for support on a variety of wellbeing issues.

Improving efficiency

Despite the huge increase in the number of cases, the annual report by Lighthouse demonstrated improvements in its efficiency of dealing with them. There was a 62% reduction in the average cost per case compared to 2018, largely due to the introduction of professional caseworkers.

Sarah Bolton, head of charitable services, said: “Our caseworkers 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 key findings of the report was that 62% of emergency financial grants were to help pay for daily living costs including buying food, paying utility bills, and clearing rent arrears and debt.

The need for better financial management

With over 50% of the construction workforce either self-employed, agency workers or on zero-hour contracts, many live from one pay day to another, which means that if things go wrong, the situation quickly spirals out of control.

To tackle the issue, the charity has added a ‘financial management’ training session to their existing range of free wellbeing courses. These sessions will provide support and guidance to help prevent situations escalating to crisis point. It will also stand alongside their helpline app, which already has a section dedicated to financial wellbeing.

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

Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, commented: “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 lookout 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.”

Covid-19 impact

Speaking of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the charity’s income for 2020, 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 £1m.

“In April we launched our Crisis Appeal to address this issue and I am pleased to advise that almost £500,000 has been raised to date.”

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