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National framework organisation Pagabo has appointed four new trustees to the board of its charitable arm – the Pagabo Foundation – which looks to address and tackle the taboo of mental health within the construction industry.
The four additions complete the 12-strong board of trustees and have been named as Karen Sewell from WSP, Andrew Morris from Ashe Construction, Christine Hartigan from SPACE & PLACE (S&P), and Elizabeth Hardwick-Smith from Pick Everard.
The Pagabo Foundation aims to raise the profile of mental health within the construction sector and looks to fund resources that makes support and advice as readily available as possible to those working in the industry.
Managing director of Pagabo and Pagabo Foundatio
‘Our new trustees are all fantastic mental health and well-being advocates and we have no doubts that their expertise, passion, and knowledge will help to further our aims and objectives to drive industry-wide change and help to provide guidance and support to those who need it the most.’
Elizabeth Hardwick-Smith, director of HR and training at leading independent property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard, has worked in the construction industry for ten years and has worked towards improving mental health after seeing first-hand how pressurised and challenging the industry can be.
She said: ‘I am incredibly proud to have the opportunity to become a trustee of the Pagabo Foundation and I hope that my experience will help to support the critical work that needs to be made more of a priority within our industry. It is important that everyone in the construction world comes together and supports one another to tackle the industry-wide stigma that is attached to mental health, and this educational aspect is an area that I am very passionate about.
‘At Pick Everard, we have recently launched a brand-new HR intranet and well-being portal that allows members of staff to access external resources that can help them to manage their emotions and welfare. This new internal toolkit also features regular blogposts that aim to offer advice and guidance to people struggling with their mental health – something that no one should have to deal with by themselves.
‘The work of the Pagabo Foundation is fundamentally important to the future success of the construction industry. Everyone should feel confident and able to express their feelings and the funds raised by the foundation help to signpost people towards getting the help and support that they need.”
Karen Sewell, head of UK legal at leading professional services firm WSP, joined the business in 2016 following a 20-year career at a London-based legal private practice. Explaining that WSP takes a holistic approach to well-being through its ‘Thrive’ programme, Karen noted that WSP has introduced mental health first-aiders in an effort to promote an open culture and allow colleagues to be open about their personal struggles with mental health.
Karen said: ‘I am delighted to be joining the board of trustees for the Pagabo Foundation. I am relatively new to the construction sector and notice how aspects of construction jobs, such as long hours on-site, pressurised deadlines and tight margins, can be an unhelpful cocktail for positive mental well-being.
‘Those of us in senior leadership positions have a responsibility to think wider than our own boardrooms and do what we can to address this collective issue, which has the potential to negatively impact us all. I congratulate Pagabo in pulling this brilliant team together and a look forward to working with them all.’
Andrew Morris, a member of the MCIOB and business development director at regional construction company Ashe Construction, joined the business as an assistant surveyor in 1989 and has been overseeing the company’s sales, marketing, and pre-construction teams since his appointment as director in 2000.
Andrew said: ‘I have seen work colleagues, close friends, and even my own wife suffer from mental health conditions. I have also seen that, with the right interventions at the right time, these issues can be nipped in the bud, managed and can help people on their road to recovery.
‘The Pagabo Foundation is fundamentally important to the construction industry, especially given the worrying statistics around mental health. People need to be encouraged to speak openly and honestly – knowing that it’s OK not to be OK. We are developing a good working relationship with Pagabo and I feel that the two businesses have a shared ethos for looking after people’s health and well-being.’
Christine Hartigan, head of Well-being and Spa at national sustainable architect consultants SPACE & PLACE (S&P), and vice-chair at the UK Spa Association was initially nominated by one of her company directors for the Pagabo Foundation board. She said: ‘I have always been incredibly passionate about promoting positive mental health and well-being. At S&P, we implemented a mental health toolkit, that encourages staff to own their mental well-being, to actively monitor their feelings and to speak up if they need support.
‘We work in a deadline-driven industry with tight timescales, long working hours and the pressure of responsibility makes for a relentlessly stressful environment. At S&P, we are determined to tackle the stigma around mental health and have introduced several preventative measures, including mental health first aiders, company-wide exercise sessions and creating office space where people can take time out with colleagues, to help people stay mentally healthy while at work.
‘The suicide rate within the construction industry is alarming to say the least and Pagabo’s focus on improving mental health within the sector has never been more important. I am fortunate to have worked closely with the team at Pagabo and feel that their ambitions and aims are something that I am very much aligned with, so when the opportunity to join the board came up, I was delighted.’
The full line-up of the Pagabo Foundation board of trustees is Jason Stapley, Gerard Toplass and Simon Toplass from Pagabo; Malcolm Aiston, managing director at NTW Solutions; Pat Boyle, UK managing director at Morgan Sindall; Sarah Fraser head of the Willmott Dixon Foundation, at Willmott Dixon; Dirk Pittaway, regional director at Robertson; Jon Sealy, UK managing director at Faithful+Gould; Karen Sewell, head of UK legal at WSP; Elizabeth Hardwick-Smith, director of HR and training at Pick Everard; Andrew Morris, business development director at Ashe Construction; and Christine Hartigan, head of well-being and spa at SPACE & PLACE (S&P).
Image credit: Freepik
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