In a year that saw the country in turmoil as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and three national lockdowns, The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity shone a beacon of hope to our construction community by responding to 2399 families in crisis.
The number of cases that needed to be managed by professional case workers increased by 70% due to the complexity of the cases presented. As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, many callers to the charity’s helpline struggled to understand their basic entitlements such as the government furlough scheme and other benefits. The charity’s 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 intervention of the case workers has ensured better financial stability for those in need and enabled the charity to deliver more support, to a higher quality and at a lower cost per case.
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 re started and a further 41 construction focussed instructors received training. Since the programme started, 214 instructors have been trained; the highest number in any industry sector.
As part of their pro-active support strategy the charity also began offering all of their construction focussed training free of charge and augmented all the courses for online delivery to meet the needs of the industry and the restrictions of face to face training. 1535 people received free wellbeing training, ranging from coping with stress, mindfulness and resilience, and with ongoing financial support from the industry, the charity will be continuing their free training into 2021.
Generously 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 a huge variety of information and guidance in the areas of mental, physical and financial wellbeing. During 2020 the app was developed with some exciting new features which included a geo locator to ensure that users are provided with support in their local area. Another new feature provides simple to understand and unbiased financial information. At a time when financial security was paramount to so many, the app has provided a financial lifeline which in turn has improved overall wellbeing.
One of the highlights of the year was the launch of a dedicated free phone helpline number for the construction community in the Republic of Ireland. Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity comments, “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.”
He adds, “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.”