Tradesman and tradeswomen are being urged to get involved with the ‘Big Brew’ – a new national campaign to highlight the mental health crisis in the construction sector that will start on 1st October. It aims to encourage tradespeople to connect and talk over a cuppa in a bid to remove the taboo around mental health across the construction industry.
The event is the brainchild of national construction charity Band of Builders (BoB), which is organising a range of events on construction sites and at builders’ merchants up and down the UK to encourage people within the industry to come together to discuss mental health issues and support one another, breaking down the stigma around mental health – and also helping the charity fund its vital services. Resideo (through its Honeywell Home brand), Jewson, DeWalt and JW Grant are supporters of the Big Brew and have already pledged to host events throughout October.
The campaign comes amid a mental health crisis within the industry, with the suicide rate of UK construction workers estimated to be as high as two people every day. UK construction workers are also nearly three times more likely to die by suicide than their counterparts in other industries.
Further shocking figures show that:
● In the UK alone, more than 400,000 working days were lost to mental health issues in 2018 (55% of all days lost)1;
● Mental health issues cost the UK construction industry approximately £37bn every year;
● A survey in 2019 found that 90% of construction managers said they had struggled with their mental health2.
BoB is a registered charity that helps members of the UK construction industry who are battling illness or injury. It does this through the completion of practical projects, with volunteer tradespeople giving up their time to work on these projects, while materials are donated by companies across the construction industry.
Peter Cape, Big Brew lead at BoB, wants to encourage tradespeople to get involved with the Big Brew. He said: “It’s so important that members of the construction community look out for each other, including talking about mental health or looking for the telltale signs that fellow roofers may be struggling – and what better way to do it than over a brew, especially a big one.
“We are all acutely aware of the mental health crisis within construction. Suicide rates in the sector were already at one per day before the Covid pandemic, according to ONS figures, and it’s widely accepted that these have worsened to closer to two per day3.
“At Band of Builders, we see the struggles of our colleagues within our community on a regular basis and see peer-to-peer support as vital to addressing this crisis. That’s where the Big Brew comes in. By encouraging people to do such a basic thing – sharing a brew – we want to create a space where tradespeople and others in the sector can share experiences, break down taboos around mental health and support one another. The Big Brew isn’t just about a few one-off events but about creating something long term that will address one of the biggest issues in our industry all year round.”
What the Big Brew will fund
Anyone can host a Big Brew – and builders wishing to register to host their own events can visit www.bandofbuilders.org/the-big-brew/ to find out more. Hosting a Big Brew will offer a place for people to meet and share a cuppa. It will also help raise funds to provide a range of mental health support services aimed at members of the UK construction industry and focused on supply chain companies, small businesses and the self-employed, who were recently discovered to be at higher risk than those working in larger organisations.
These support services will include:
- Funding dedicated industry mental health support lines;
- The provision of interim counselling services to support members of the UK construction industry;
- The provision of counselling support for BoB beneficiaries and volunteers;
- The provision of 300 free mental health awareness course places for small and medium-sized businesses and the self-employed. BoB will also work with fellow construction charity The Lighthouse Club and partners on the Beacons campaign, which aims to increase the provision of, and access to, regional peer support groups.
Know your wellbeing STATS
Peter Cape added that, as part of the campaign, the Big Brew will encourage tradespeople to remember their wellbeing STATS and support one another:
S – Support each other
T – Talk about it
A – Always ask twice
T – Take it seriously
S – Stop the cycle
He said: “Wellbeing STATS around mental health are vital, and we hope that the Big Brew will be a way for tradespeople to start opening up, even just a little bit, because we all need to do everything we can to start reversing the mental health crisis in the construction sector.”
Support the Big Brew at www.bandofbuilders.org/the-big-brew/.
 Data from HSE: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2ea9a4_1123897588094d4db915a481782c15bc.pdf
2 Finding from a survey jointly organised by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA)