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 provided support to 2399 families in crisis.
The number of cases that needed professional case workers increased by 70%. As the Covid 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 raised £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 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 was 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 adapted all its courses for online delivery to meet the needs of the industry and the restrictions on face to face training. In total 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.
With the support of 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 was expanded with some new features that include 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 improved overall wellbeing.
One of the highlights of the year was the launch of a dedicated freephone helpline 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.”