BECG – Built Environment Communications Group https://becg.com A better built environment. Tue, 25 Jun 2019 10:08:22 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://becg.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/cropped-favicon-32x32.png BECG – Built Environment Communications Group https://becg.com 32 32 BECG exhibits at the Consultation Stakeholder Engagement for Infrastructure Conference 2019 https://becg.com/becg-exhibits-at-the-consultation-stakeholder-engagement-for-infrastructure-conference-2019/ Fri, 21 Jun 2019 15:38:01 +0000 https://becg.com/?p=3791 Transparency and clear benefits and messaging are key themes of Waterfront's #ConsultInfra 2019 which BECG sponsored last week.

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“Transparency of dialogue can unlock or reset trust.” Mike Saunders, Commonplace CEO, made a great point when discussing how his company could provide a platform for companies to capture thoughts of hard-to-reach demographics. It was a view shared by many other speakers at the Waterfront Consultation Stakeholder Engagement for Infrastructure Conference, which BECG exhibited at, held on 18 June 2019. Many listed the need for honest and confident communications when dealing with stakeholders, especially those directly impacted by infrastructure projects.

Ruth Shepherd, Associate of the Consultation Institute, kicked off by discussing the trends and challenges facing the delivery of successful consultation and engagement. She gave an honest account of her industry experiences and detailed her efforts in engaging communities to become prominent stakeholders in the design process. Her most poignant point detailed how essential it is to both integrate ideas in design feasibility whilst understanding community needs ahead of asset handover, to maximise the legacy outcomes of any project.

Liz Dunn, Partner at Burges Salmon LLP (event hosts), gave an informative talk detailing legal requirement when developing consultation strategies, and how requirements and public expectation can be balanced. Detailed within this presentation were the results of research which highlighted how people are much more likely to support the delivery of any project when tangible benefits in local transport and other aspects, such as healthcare, are showcased. It’s clear that maintaining a set of key messages throughout all external communications is vital. If there are benefits; list them!

John Morris, Director at JetSetJohnnie Limited, reinforced the need for transparent communications within community engagement, whilst specifying that professionals need to fully understand the details and be confident in their ability to communicate their projects benefits and impacts. He closed by talking about conflict communications, saying “the first to fluster, is the first to lose”.

Julie King, Director of Community & Stakeholder Engagement at HS2, talked us through the varied needs of stakeholders and how engagement methods change to meet differing needs. She highlighted HS2’s ongoing pledge to review their performance against the ten key commitments made in the ‘Being a good neighbour’ engagement plan, a hefty commitment but one that really holds HS2 to account in leaving legacy items across the UK. Her breakdown of HS2’s collaborative approach and engagement methods used with their delivery partners in greenfield, brownfield and live rail environments, was most impressive.

Tim Holmes, Director of Holmes Consulting and current Communications Director for Melbourne’s Westgate Tunnel Project, took us through the role of communications professionals from planning through to delivery. He discussed his pilot consultation project, the use of a non-public domain Community Tender Advisory Panel on the Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Project (dubbed ‘Skyrail’), which reviewed feedback on commercially sensitive designs after the signing of non-disclosure agreements.

Whilst risky, this allowed contractors to take on feedback and alter designs ahead of the preferred bidder announcement stage. Tim also discussed the methods they had used in trader engagement through supporting local businesses impacted by construction. From a personal point of view, it was great seeing Tim talk about projects I had worked on in Australia, and seeing former colleagues shine on film.

Rhion Jones, Founder of the Consultation Institute, chaired the conference in good spirits and facilitated some excellent questioning of speakers. His account of the evolving nature of engagement and the power of precedent, were insightful.

Having spoken with other experts in the sector who are involved in major infrastructure projects, concentrating attention around collaboration and innovation is of the utmost priority.

As a trusted expert in the built environment space, BECG will be working on infrastructure projects around the UK, continuing to provide insight-led and cohesive stakeholder engagement campaigns that the 21st century demands.

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Local benefits show why the Midlands is vital to HS2 https://becg.com/local-benefits-show-why-the-midlands-is-vital-to-hs2/ Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:00:27 +0000 https://becg.com/?p=3652 Rarely a day passes by without HS2 making the media headlines, and last month the project attracted particular attention with both national and regional coverage of the reaction and reception from politicians, business leaders and commentators to the House of Lords Economic Committee’s Rethinking High Speed 2 report

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Rarely a day passes by without HS2 making the media headlines, and last month the project attracted particular attention with both national and regional coverage of the reaction and reception from politicians, business leaders and commentators to the House of Lords Economic Committee’s Rethinking High Speed 2 report.

Some of the cost-cutting recommendations of the report are to reduce the speed of the line and for Phase 1 and Phase 2a of HS2; terminate the line at Old Oak Common in West London, removing the redevelopment of Euston Station and the expensive tunnelling required on this stretch of the line. While reducing cost, these changes will arguably reduce the attractiveness of the line to passengers removing the direct city centre connection for the foreseeable future and decreasing the reductions in journey times. The report also suggests combining the delivery of the northern section of HS2 with Northern Powerhouse Rail but makes no reference to the Midlands Rail Hub that will increase regional access to HS2.

It is therefore unsurprising that the report was ill-received across the Midlands and it is arguably as much about what the report considered and recommended as to what it didn’t. Midlands Connect, the region’s transport voice, highlighted that the proposed major changes ignore the needs and opportunities of the Midlands. This is despite the fact the current plans for HS2 include six stations in the region, each set to benefit from substantial investment and regeneration plans. Indeed, it was a hot topic for most of the speakers at the inaugural Midlands Development Conference held in Coventry on 23 May, with politicians across all parties and business representatives from both the east and west, collectively emphasising the importance of HS2. In particular conversations stressed the importance of delivering the line in full, because for the Midlands it is just as much about connecting the region to our capital as it is about connecting it to the investment and opportunities in the Northern Powerhouse.

In many ways the report is backward looking, returning to tired debates about investment in the North vs. investment in the South. The advent of regionalised transport bodies across the whole of the UK has moved the conversation forward, with large swathes of the country coming together to agree regional investment priorities overseen by regional Sub-National Transport Bodies. This approach has facilitated greater collaboration with central government and has successfully influenced and informed both Highways England and Network Rail’s investment strategies. Indeed, it has long been Transport for the North’s view that the full delivery of HS2 is necessary alongside investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail.

To understand the disappointment and anger of the Midlands at the report, you only need to look at the benefits that would derive on the current proposals, both those already being realised and those forecast for the future. Some that are already being felt in the region include its catalyst for inward investment with 151 Foreign Direct Investment projects in 2016/17 in the West Midlands, up from 57 projects in 2011/12, the relocation of companies, including HS2’s head office to 2 Snow Hill, as well as associated job creation. The planned HS2 station at Toton in the East Midlands is expected to support thousands of new homes, around £4 billion in local economic growth and 74,000 jobs.

Interestingly a large portion of this report’s summary was dedicated to criticism of Government for not heeding the advice of its previous report in 2015, The Economics of High Speed 2, questioning how much influence we can expect this report to have. HS2’s future has divided opinion with the remaining Tory leadership candidates:

Rory Stewart and Boris Johnson are all fairly sceptical calling for an urgent review and all suggesting that if HS2 didn’t go ahead the money could be better spent improving road and rail connections in the North of England.

Michael Gove and Dominic Raab sat slightly more on the fence but calling for a review. Gove wants assurances the project will offer value for money for the taxpayer whilst Raab wants to see a reduction in overall costs but recognises a need to improve capacity name checking Birmingham-London connections alongside those in the North.

Publicly committing to delivering HS2 are Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt both calling the project a vital piece of national infrastructure that should not be scrapped if we want to encourage economic growth outside of the capital.

The future of Europe’s biggest infrastructure project will depend on the continued turbulent political climate with the Conservative leadership contest, Brexit and the potential for a snap general election, all factors fuelling concern for its future.

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Creating a place identity for the South https://becg.com/creating-a-place-identity-for-the-south/ Fri, 14 Jun 2019 08:54:27 +0000 https://becg.com/?p=3637 The importance of place identity was a standout theme at Business South’s Regenerate South Conference on 4th June 2019 – as over 150 built environment professionals gathered at the University of Winchester to hear about future property and infrastructure development plans for the South region

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The importance of place identity was a standout theme at Business South’s Regenerate South Conference on 4th June 2019 – as over 150 built environment professionals gathered at the University of Winchester to hear about future property and infrastructure development plans for the South region.

John Denham, Chair of the Advisory Board at the Southern Policy Centre, kicked off proceedings by highlighting the disparate nature of the region’s approach to place identity. He called for stakeholders across the region to work together to find a collective narrative, and shared the key attributes identified by research undertaken by the Southern Policy Centre, as a starting point for a collective regional placemaking strategy:

• Three waterfront cities: complementary economies and ambitions
• 5/6 universities
• Large and (potentially) interconnected population
• A strong cultural offer
• Set in a unique natural environment
• A Gateway region
• Good access to NE Hants/Surrey/Thames Valley/London

John was followed by Andrew Keeling from Hotel Solutions, James Child from Whitehill & Borden Regeneration, and Robin Dobson from Hammerson who showcased their plans for hotel, housing and retail development across the South. All stressing the value that can be unlocked through effective placemaking and regeneration, and the importance of creating places where people want to work, live and play.

The conference concluded with panellists pitching their solutions for helping the southern region to compete effectively with the rest of the UK. Improving the speed of the planning system, aligning the price of commercial property with the North, catching up with demand for commercial property, improving the range of property types, and taking an entrepreneurial approach to utilities were all raised as initiatives that could enable the region to compete more effectively for investment. But it was Rebecca McDonald from Centre 4 Cities who secured the audience majority with 49% of the vote for highlighting the need to improve “intra-city” transport infrastructure.

BECG was proud to support Regenerate South 2019 and will be continuing to work with Business South to help drive a shared voice across the Central South region. We have a wealth of experience creating placemaking strategies that help to demonstrate responsible regeneration, attract occupiers and visitors, boost the local economy, build a sense of community and deliver social value – find out more about our placemaking service.

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Social change demands housing innovation https://becg.com/social-change-demands-housing-innovation/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 13:44:56 +0000 https://becg.com/?p=3647 Changing attitudes and new family forms require innovative thinking on new homes, says Andrew Howard, managing director of communications consultancy BECG. Are the planners ready

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Changing attitudes and new family forms require innovative thinking on new homes, says Andrew Howard, managing director of communications consultancy BECG. Are the planners ready?

Our relationship with housebuilding and home ownership continually shifts. It is easy to assume new homes built for sale are the gold standard. An aspiration ingrained in our country’s housing DNA.

But 100 years ago more than 75% of households in England were private renters, a quarter were owner occupied and less than 1% were in social rented accommodation.

Today, our housing market looks radically different: housebuilding is now synonymous with private sale – family homes with a garden, or building new apartments to regenerate inner cities.

But our society and housing needs have changed. According to The Marriage Foundation, 47% of women and 48% of men aged 20 will not marry. Millennials are more likely not to have children than earlier generations. More people live in new family forms, where traditional sexual and gender paradigms are rejected. Add in an ever-increasing gap between wages and house prices, or the pressures of inward migration, and it is clear that the traditional view of the “physical” family home needs a rethink.

Hence the growth of alternative tenure types. Moving the UK away from the limited and binary “own or rent” home ownership models makes sense – lifestyles have shifted, needs have evolved, and tastes have leapt forward.

Response

Encouragingly, the market and imaginative housebuilders have responded – institutional investment in PRS, innovations in models of student housing, experiments in co-living. The diversification of models continues to grow, as does the embrace of new build technologies. All marking a period of growth, creativity and opportunity, shifting away from traditional models.

If the good news is that the market has started to adapt, the bad news is that the planning and regulatory system has been far slower to react and is now lagging behind. Our planning system needs to recognise social change and realise the benefits of tenure innovation in assisting regeneration, delivering placemaking, and building high quality homes, at scale, in areas of demand.

BECG is currently engaged in work in around a third of all planning authorities in the UK. Far too often we see planning authorities where officers and/or members are either unfamiliar with, or actively hostile to, innovative developments. Too often “use-classes” are a shield or comfort blanket, hiding more parochial objections where planning decision making is out of step with changing tastes and demands for flexibility in student provision, co-living or PRS.

If we are to meet the demands of our changing society, we must educate and change our planning system to encourage home builders of all kinds. Social change and future generations require innovation in housing products and tenure forms. The planning system needs to adapt and support this revolution.

This article first appeared in Housebuilder Magazine’s June edition. You can view it here.

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New 50 Shades of Planning Podcast https://becg.com/blog-planning-podcast/ Fri, 07 Jun 2019 14:34:16 +0000 https://becg.com/blog-london-borough-planning-committee-decisions-2/ BECG is delighted to support the 50 Shades of Planning Podcast from Samuel Stafford, Regional Strategic Land Director at Barratt Developments. The podcast brings together contributors from across the planning sector to discuss all things town planning, debate topical issues and share opinions of the profession

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BECG is delighted to support the 50 Shades of Planning Podcast from Samuel Stafford, Regional Strategic Land Director at Barratt Developments.

Inspired by Sam’s successful blog of the same name, 50 Shades of Planning will bring together contributors from across the planning sector to discuss all things town planning, debate topical issues and share opinions of the profession.

With nearly 6 million adults in the UK tuning in to podcasts each week (Ofcom 2018), the podcast medium is currently experiencing a rapid rise in popularity. BECG have helped Sam bring his vision to life by producing the 50 Shades of Planning podcast and creating a visual brand identity.

If you’d like to take part in the podcast or want help managing or launching your own podcast then please get in touch on 0161 359 4103 or kevin.whitmore@becg.com.

1st Episode – Planning: What is it good for?

Sam is joined for the first episode Planning: What is it good for? by;

Paul Smith, Managing Director of Strategic Land Group;
Victoria Payne, Senior Consultant – Planning and Urban Design at URBED;
• and Greg Dickson, Director at Barton Willmore,

to discuss the damming conclusions found by recent reports from the National Audit Office (NAO):

“Given these problems, we cannot conclude that the planning system currently provides value for money in terms of delivering new homes effectively” (NAO Planning for New Homes Report)

and the Raynsford Review:

“Nick Raynsford has warned that planning has been reduced to a ‘chaotic patchwork’ of responsibilities which is not compatible with promoting the health, wellbeing and civil rights of communities” (Raynsford Review of Planning Final Report Press Release)

Listen here

2nd Episode – Image Rights

Sam is joined for the second episode Image Rights by;

Andrew Jalali, Senior Planner at Mosaic Town Planning and Chair of the RTPI North West Young Planners;
David Diggle, Director at Turley;
• and Tom Whitehead, Group Town Planning Manager at the Brookhouse Group.

to debate the comments made by George Clarke at the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) annual Frederick J Osborne lecture:

“In a drive to deliver housing numbers Britain is building s**t. It’s not just about how many we build, it’s what we build, the places we create around it, the infrastructure, the public spaces. In general the standard of design is insufficient in UK housebuilding – Where’s the quality? Where’s the sense of community? Where’s the placemaking?”

Listen here

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London Borough Planning Committee Decisions https://becg.com/blog-london-borough-planning-committee-decisions/ Fri, 24 May 2019 11:42:54 +0000 https://becg.com/?p=3368 Our London Borough Planning Committee Decisions Research Document looks at every borough in London to assess their decision making in the 12 months since May 2018. Our focus has been on the main committees - those dealing with larger and more strategic applications

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The May elections in 2018 saw significant change across London. Across the capital, one in every two councillors on the main planning committee were newly elected and 20 new planning committee Chairs have influenced planning decisions over the last year.

Our London Borough Planning Committee Decisions Research Document looks at every borough in London to assess their decision making in the 12 months since May 2018. Our focus has been on the main committees – those dealing with larger and more strategic applications.

Committees across London operate in different ways. Some, like Wandsworth, use their one committee to consider all applications – large and small – while others like Barnet preserve their main committee for larger applications and allow area committees to decide on smaller or household applications.

The general story is positive; pro-regeneration boroughs with strong political and officer leadership rank highly for approvals – Brent, Ealing and Hackney deliver almost universally positive determinations. Barnet, Tower Hamlets and Kingston – not seen normally as consistent decision-makers – have approved every single application recommended for approval this year. Bromley and Kensington & Chelsea remain difficult, while formerly pro-regeneration boroughs such as Haringey and Hounslow are starting to flex their muscles with some refusals.

For many, the number of large applications coming forward is extraordinarily low. Lewisham has considered just two applications all year – both for the same scheme – refusing initially and then approving a slightly amended town centre scheme later in the year. In Kingston, almost half of the committees have been cancelled due to a lack of applications ready for decision and a similar lack of activity is evident elsewhere.

In a year we have London Mayoral elections and major applications will start to become ever more political. Committees, some of whom will have new Chairs and members for the year 2019/20, will be under greater pressure to make tough decisions in a febrile political environment. The Mayor will also be reluctant – unless clear political advantage can be gained – to hold any hearings beyond Autumn 2019 and the first part of 2020 could see a slowdown in major applications.

Download the London Borough Planning Committee Decisions Research Document or contact our London team if you’d like any further information.

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And it was more yellow – local election results in BECG’s East region https://becg.com/east-local-elections/ Wed, 22 May 2019 09:50:25 +0000 https://becg.com/?p=3322 We’ve produced a map summarising not only the change in political control across the region, but delving into the detail below the surface

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It’s rare that local politics gets a lot of attention, but the 2nd May elections rightly turned heads as the Tories were decimated across the country and Labour fared little better, whilst Lib Dems, Greens and Independents all finally had a reason to celebrate.

BECG’s East region (covering Beds, Bucks, Herts, Cambs, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent) witnessed some of the most standout results: 15 authorities changed hands, new cabinets and coalitions are forming across the board, and some Tory council leaders were denied their seats in brutal turnarounds that wouldn’t look out of place in Game of Thrones.

We’ve produced a map summarising not only the change in political control across the region, but delving into the detail below the surface to provide a snapshot of how the spectacular results only scratch the surface of how severely the administrations and decision-making of authorities are going to alter in the coming months.

If you think these results are solely the product of national Government’s inertia on Brexit, think again: local planning issues have been at the heart of many of these results.  A Lib Dem surge in Dacorum could make the still-solid Tory administration think twice about their Local Plan; the Greens picking up seats in still-blue Braintree on the back of campaigns against the North Essex Garden Communities may alter the authority’s approach; new leaders are in place in Broxbourne, Canterbury, East Cambs, Tunbridge Wells and more; Buck’s district authorities postponed elections this year ahead of the new super unitary forming in 2020, will they now be worried?

BECG can advise on all of this and the hundred other questions to arise from this round of polling, even as administrations and messy coalitions continue to shape up.

Click here to download a more detailed overview of the map or for further information and insights, get in touch with our Directors in BECG’s East team by emailing east@becg.com or by calling 0203 697 7646.

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Why do we prioritise mental health at BECG? https://becg.com/why-do-we-prioritise-mental-health-at-becg/ Fri, 17 May 2019 18:04:35 +0000 https://becg.com/?p=3267 As a business whose greatest asset is our people, prioritising mental health issues is vital to us, as is promoting and championing positive mental health

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There is growing attention being paid to the importance of mental health across many areas of life, and it’s about time. Mental health issues are more common than you might think; the repertoire is wide, doesn’t discriminate and the repercussions can be far reaching.

We spend a huge amount of our time at work. As a business whose greatest asset is our people, prioritising mental health issues is vital to us, as is promoting and championing positive mental health. Statistically, workplaces that take this approach and really support people with mental ill health are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from the associated economic gains. Simply put; healthy, well, happy staff are more productive staff.

We strive to be a healthy workplace, where management and staff actively contribute to our working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety and well-being of all employees. We haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel; we have learned from the motivations of other organisations who get it right and we’ve made sure we understand the needs of the people who work here so we can develop better policies and practices for workplace health. Our benefits package is designed around that ethos, from offering flexible working and actively promoting taking time out of the business on a regular basis, to private health cover with a focus on mental health therapies.

We have qualified Mental Health First Aiders in place across all our offices, trained to recognise signs and symptoms of mental health issues, facilitate conversations that can be difficult, signpost people to the right professional help for them, and offer effective, constructive and truly meaningful ongoing support to people suffering with mental health problems. We know it’s working- these first aiders have been able to use their new skillsets to help their colleagues. Mental health is not something we are struggling to talk about here; it’s really encouraged, and that comes from an awareness across the business of the workplace environment and how it can be adapted to promote better mental health for all employees.

With stigma dissolved, difficult conversations made easier and knowledge of what to do and where to go when experiencing a mental health problem, we as an employer can create an inclusive, supportive culture where all staff better take care of themselves and the people around them. That’s a complete win!

Find out about a career at BECG.

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BECG’s Mental Health First Aiders https://becg.com/becgs-mental-health-first-aiders/ Thu, 16 May 2019 08:59:16 +0000 https://becg.com/?p=3232 It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, what better time to talk about the steps that BECG has taken to combat the stigma around mental health in the workplace

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It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, what better time to talk about the steps that BECG has taken to combat the stigma around mental health in the workplace.

Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time, that’s why BECG has trained individuals across the business to support their colleagues both in the workplace and in their day to day lives.

 

A group of BECG staff recently undertook a two-day MHFA (Mental Health First Aider) course which I can only describe as intense, eye opening and quite emotional at times. In a safe environment with a variety of individuals from different companies and backgrounds we shared experiences and concerns whilst gaining a truly in depth understanding of mental health conditions and issues that could arise through role plays, videos and exercises.

Unlike your typical workplace first aider, as MHFAs we are trained to look out for early signs that someone is experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions. We’re also educated on how to have an open minded attitude to mental health issues to help abolish common misconceptions and challenge the worries that individuals have about discussing their problems or concerns at work.

We’re not counsellors or medical professionals but individuals with a knowledge and understanding to help challenge the worry and negativity around talking about mental health and to ensure our colleagues are happy and healthy. We’re here to listen, be supportive and share knowledge and information to help individuals get further support.

We each now have the skills, knowledge and confidence to increase awareness overall and to help our colleagues understand it’s ok to talk about it!

We’re on hand to ensure our colleagues are supported and will be sharing a variety of great resources across the business this week to boost employee wellbeing.

In line with abolishing mental health stigma in the workplace, BECG has recently formed a new charity partnership with the Lighthouse Club, the only charity that provides emotional support to the construction community and their families who have suffered an injury, illness or just need some extra support. Find out more at www.lighthouseclub.org.

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BECG announce partnership with the Lighthouse Club https://becg.com/becg-announce-partnership-with-the-lighthouse-club/ Tue, 14 May 2019 12:29:54 +0000 https://becg.com/?p=3218 BECG is today, during Mental Health Awareness Week, delighted to announce a new charity partnership with the Lighthouse Club - The Construction Industry Charity

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BECG is today, during Mental Health Awareness Week, delighted to announce a new charity partnership with the Lighthouse Club – The Construction Industry Charity.

The Lighthouse Club is the only charity that provides financial and emotional support to the construction community and their families who have suffered an injury, illness or just need some extra support.

The charity provides a 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline which is the first point of contact to access a range of completely free and confidential support services including:

  • Advice on welfare and mental wellbeing
  • Emergency financial aid to construction families in crisis
  • Support on legal, tax and debt management matters

They also have a free mental health app which provides vital information, advice and guidance on many wellbeing topics including stress, anxiety, depression, anger and suicidal thoughts.

Last year, the Construction Industry Helpline supported over 1,600 families in crisis, with more than £1.25m of emergency financial aid provided to 620 construction families. They also helped with over 1000 cases related to mental health and wellbeing advice, debt management, tax support and legal advice.

Their ‘Building Mental Health’ website, offers a free repository of information for companies who are looking to build a positive mental health culture in their organisation.

Speaking about the partnership, BECG CEO, Stephen Pomeroy said: “We’re very proud to have become a sponsor of the Lighthouse Club. The work they’re doing to support people across the sector makes a huge difference to construction families across the UK during their hour of need.”

Here at BECG we take the mental health of our staff extremely seriously, each one of our offices has a fully trained mental health first aider as well as offering a range of benefits to aid our employee’s work / life balance”.

To find out more about the Lighthouse Club, visit www.lighthouseclub.org

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