After many months of discussions, BESS is delighted to announce that we’ll be working closely with the Careers and Enterprise Company in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP region!
FEBRUARY – 10th February, 1pm
GUEST – Dave Lee, Building Site to Boardroom
Following their excellent coverage in Construction News as part of the Mind Matters initiative, we are delighted to welcome our February guest, Dave Lee, director of not-for-profit company Building Site to Boardroom (BS2B), an organisation set up to support mental wellbeing in construction
Dave struggled with depression for 20 years. After his parents put him in care when they divorced, Dave spent time in and out of jail before he “fell into” construction, eventually leading the delivery of million-pound jobs.
But the stresses of the industry and responsibility took their toll and Dave turned to alcohol and drugs. “I was drinking heavily and using drugs to cope. I couldn’t even go to a pub unless I had a drink – only then did I have the courage to talk to people.”
Stories like Dave’s experiences are not uncommon. But due to the lack of open conversation around mental health in construction, you wouldn’t have thought it.
It is estimated that one in four of us will experience a mental health issue in our lifetimes. But a stigma surrounds mental health, so much so that it remains a taboo subject in industries like construction.
With the construction industry accounting for more than 6 per cent of the UK’s workforce, it is likely that hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing mental health problems, many of them in silence. But there is a clear lack of open dialogue surrounding this issue: from building site to boardroom, there is little chance of seeing work stop for discussion on issues such as loneliness, anxiety, panic attacks or personality disorders.
Once upon a time, an employee just like you decided that the skills shortage in construction needed tackling. Enough was enough. The skills problem had been a concern for over 20 years, and she’d read that only 10% of construction employers engaged with schools. This employee discussed it with her manager, reached out to a local school, and before she knew it, the date for a school visit was booked.
Then the hard work started – planning the presentation. How to engage a room full of students, all with a completely different understanding of construction, different levels of career aspiration applied by their parents, different beliefs about their own abilities and future, different emotions related to school and education, different interpretations of you and your message?
If you’re a fan of Apple, iTunes or U2, you might remember the backlash prompted by Apple’s decision to install a new U2 album, Songs of Innocence, directly into the library of 500 million iTunes subscribers a couple of years ago. A completely free album. From one of the world’s biggest bands. Installed with no effort on the part of the iTunes subscriber. And people were furious.
“Raising awareness” doesn’t work. How do I know? Let’s face it: if doing awareness raising talks in schools a couple of times a year was enough, we wouldn’t have a skills shortage, would we?
But ‘raising awareness’ is potentially much worse than simply being ineffective.
We want to solve the skills shortage. But the metric we’re giving ourselves is to ‘raise awareness’. One thing does not equal the other. So young people aren’t taking action, because we’re not explicitly asking them to. We’re assuming they’ll figure out the rest of the journey themselves.
VIDEO CREDIT: This is Coca-Cola’s advert, and nothing about me posting it here implies anything else. All credits, images and copyright remain with them, in perpetuity (they’ve got a big legal team)
It’s almost that time of year again when our TV viewing becomes colonised by adverts full of reassuringly predictable depictions of snow, happy families, and calorie-laden items that must be consumed. One of the most notable advert over the years has been the Coca-Cola Christmas convoy, arriving to the tune of “Holidays are coming…”