National construction society Band of Builders reports it has been overwhelmed by the level of support received from builders’ merchants in the UK, including Jewson and Gibbs & Dandy, who have provided much support behind the charity’s Big brew campaign to highlight the mental health crisis in the construction industry.

Builders’ Merchant News reports that merchants have been thanked and highly praised for taking the strong stance in encouraging tradespeople, builders, and contractors to tackle the mentor health crisis in the construction industry that has seen an estimated two construction workers take their own lives every day.

Band of Builders aims to help members of the construction industry when times get tough, whether that’s through hands-on projects, advice and support, or just the sense of community that has grown through the simple act of wearing a BoB t-shirt or hoodie.

The charity that helps members of the UK construction industry battling illness or injury through the completion of practical projects carried out by volunteer tradespeople using donated materials

The charity has praised merchants for their overwhelming levels of support for its Big Brew events, which offers tradespeople a safe place to come together, grab a cuppa, have a chat, and feel comfortable discussing issues relating to mental health in the industry.

There has been an incredible response to the Big Brew, with 130 events taking place at merchants across the UK throughout October, and this figure gets closer to 200 when events hosted by national parties are included, from manufacturers and suppliers such as Resideo, DEWALT and Talasey.

Peter Cape, Big Brew lead at Band of Builders, said he is astonished at just how well its first-ever Big Brew has been received.

“The amount of support for the Big Brew has been incredible – with merchants leading in the way in helping to shine a light on the scale of mental health crisis in the construction industry,” said Cape.

“Not only does it highlight the level of demand for the construction industry to have an outlet for recognising the issue, we’ve also been amazed at the willingness of firms and individuals to get behind it.”

He explained that it was fascinating to see the groundswell of support from a wide range of businesses of all sizes that are at the ‘coalface of construction’, adding that it is where the likes of Jewson and Gibbs & Dandy should be praised for enabling events that can provide a genuine opportunity for tradespeople to go to a familiar location and speak with similarly minded peers.

The Big Brew runs all through October, and Cape added that everyone is acutely aware of the mental health crisis within the sector.

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 day.

“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,” Cape said.

He explained that by encouraging people to do such a basic thing – sharing a cuppa – the charity aims to create a space where tradespeople and others in the sector can share their own experiences, help break down the taboos that surround mental health issues, and provide support to each other.

He hopes that the Big Brew will not be a one-off event, but create a longer-term initiative to help address one of the biggest issues in the construction industry.

As well as providing a place for people to meet, the Big Brew also aims to 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.

Band of Builders has run out of its Big Brew packs, but donations can still be made at to fund support services that 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.

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