Saturday, May 21, 2022

A gruelling challenge to raise awareness of the construction industry’s most shocking statistic

Craig Sanders, Protrade’s Joint Managing Director, wants to raise awareness of the most shocking statistic in the construction industry which sees a staggering two suicides per day from workers.

In an effort to put something back into an industry he has worked in for more than 30 years, Craig will be raising money for Lighthouse Club by completing the 355 miles Pennine Cycleway between the 2nd and 6th May. Lighthouse Club are the only charity to provide emotional, physical and financial wellbeing support for construction workers and their families.

We spoke to Craig about his Just Giving event and the reasoning behind it.

“I was shocked to hear that two construction workers take their own lives, every working day in the UK. I believe the construction industry has the second-highest statistic when it comes to suicides, which is both startling and devastating. Long working hours, tight deadlines, lack of a routine, working in isolation and separation from families, all contribute to poor mental health within the industry.

“I decided to complete the Pennine Cycleway route as an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a charity that supports the backbone of UK Construction; an industry I have worked in for the last thirty years. If my gruelling adventure means that just one more person is saved by getting the support they need, it’ll be the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

“We’re not exactly ‘in-shape’, so this will be challenging to say the least.”

Craig spoke of how he wasn’t aware of the statistics until he had looked into it. Although The Lighthouse Club’s work mainly focuses on mental health, they also work across a number of wellness areas within the construction industry, including financial which has become prevalent in recent years with everything that is happening.

A lot of construction workers often work away from home, are away from their families, have tight deadlines, and they’re operating within what is, notoriously, a macho environment where people don’t talk about how they feel.

“Since speaking to people within the industry about this, what’s clear to me is that everyone seems to know someone that has taken their own life. This is something that resonates with me, too. From my own experience, many years ago I worked on the trade counter and knew a guy that was a regular – lovely guy, with a great family – and I was shocked to find out that he had taken his own life two years ago. No one knew what he was going through or that he was struggling. That stays with you and more needs to be done to raise awareness of these issues within the industry.”

We asked Craig what message he would give to anyone that finds themselves in that situation.

“It’s easy to say you should speak to someone. That’s easier said than done and the reality is, though, people often don’t. I wasn’t even aware of the Lighthouse Club and I would suspect that there will be many others within the industry that are not aware of the charity and the incredible work they do. Hopefully, by doing this cycle ride, I will be able to raise their profile as well as money for them and what they do for the industry. They’ve got a 24 hour, seven days a week, phone line where workers can reach out and talk to them, offload, and get some support.”

Protrade’s Joint MD, Des Duddy, added: “I’d also say that if it was that easy to speak to someone, so many more people wouldn’t find themselves so far down the line. It’s almost like saying ‘snap out of it’ – if it was that easy, nobody would be depressed or struggle with their mental health. There’s an onus on organisations to create a culture whereby colleagues look out for one another.

“Certainly, since Craig started training for this event and dug into the story behind the Lighthouse Club, it has made us far more aware and conscious than we have ever been. This event that he is doing may well be for charity, but it’s tough. Craig has gone from doing nothing to something that is really strenuous and demanding on the body. A lot of the time with events like these it is a case that the person doing it is taking their hobby and extending it a little bit further. That’s not the case with Craig. He is a fish out of water and this is going to be a real challenge. It’s absolutely commendable what he’s doing.”

To donate to Craig’s Pennine Cycleway challenge and help support the valuable work of the Lighthouse Club, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/craig-sanders7

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