Beyond Building | Fife Health and Wellbeing Programme Partnership

Beyond Building | Fife Health and Wellbeing Programme Partnership image

Often a contractor’s relationship with a client doesn’t extend beyond the works contract. Our collaboration with NHS Fife is a testament to the benefits of a different approach: developing mutually beneficial partnerships beyond the building works.

The GRAHAM team is currently on-site delivering NHS Fife’s new purpose-built National Treatment Centre - Fife Orthopaedics - to provide orthopaedic excellence at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

Collaborative approach to achieving positive health and wellbeing outcomes

GRAHAM has established a Health and Wellbeing Programme for employees and sub-contractors. The Fife Health & Social Care Partnership Health Promotion Service Workplace Team has been supporting GRAHAM; by helping us to establish employee needs. A programme has been developed to deliver targeted health and wellbeing support for site employees and sub-contractors on topics which matter to them.

Recently, members of our team attended a ‘Loneliness Awareness in the Workplace’ session delivered virtually as part of Fife Health Promotion Service’s campaign for Mental Health Awareness Week. Robert Johnston, Senior Quantity Surveyor at GRAHAM, shared his lived experiences with the group. The Workplace Team then approached Robert to ask if he would kindly be the subject of a case study to reflect on his experiences further, and he agreed.

Case study: Recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Robert has certainly experienced several difficult life challenges recently. The restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic caused his own business to cease trading. Having been self-employed, lack of income made his financial responsibilities very challenging. Bills were stacking up and he often found himself not eating well. His grandmother sadly passed away in a residential care home whilst restrictions meant he could not be with her.

All of this had a profound impact on Robert’s health and wellbeing.

Robert says he felt trapped and struggled with the consequential lack of purpose and confidence he felt. His home was feeling more like a prison than a sanctuary. On two separate occasions, Robert took on temporary contracts to try to get back to work. This sadly magnified his low mental wellbeing as he thought that he wasn’t being heard or valued.

In November 2021, Robert finally found light at the end of a long tunnel. He joined GRAHAM as a Senior Quantity Surveyor. His personal and professional life experiences have since improved. Some of the key points he highlighted about his experience with GRAHAM include:

  • Feeling welcome, listened to, and valued from day one
  • GRAHAM demonstrates continual tailored support to him in the role; allowing him to grow and thrive – both personally and professionally
  • GRAHAM encourages Robert to appreciate himself and what he has experienced
  • Innovative approaches to support workforce mental health
  • Working at GRAHAM provides achievable targets and room to progress
  • There are lots of opportunities for interaction on-site

Robert is happy to share his story because he says if speaking out can help one person then it’s worthwhile.

Let’s start the conversation in construction…

Sadly, Robert is not alone in his experience.

Mental ill-health is a silent crisis within the construction industry. We need more sessions, which encourage our workforce to find their voice in a safe and encouraging environment. Our Health and Wellbeing Programme, delivered with regional NHS health boards, will support this.

Why do we all need to talk? Did you know that…

  • over two thirds of construction workers believe there’s a stigma surrounding mental health, which stops them from talking about it (Mates in Mind);
  • almost half find it hard to talk about their mental health (Mates in Mind);
  • 91% have felt overwhelmed (CIOB);
  • stress, depression or anxiety accounts for 27% of all work-related illness in construction (Lighthouse Club)?

Conversation can change the outcome for someone who has been suffering in silence. Our Programme is certainly not a magic solution, but it is a start.