A helping hand

A helping hand

During tough times, it’s always helpful to know that somebody has your best interests at heart. Automotive industry charity, Ben, has a critical response service which provides support to employers and their employees in times of crisis.

This free service sees Ben working closely with automotive industry businesses to provide appropriate, and often immediate, care for employees who have been subjected to unexpected or traumatic incidents. The service is open to those who have been affected by issues such as serious injury, physical or psychological threat, death of a customer or colleague, and other sudden and unforeseen incidents.

The scheme has been in development since 2017 as an onsite trauma service, the concept being initiated by automotive Ben4Business partners following a traumatic incident that affected their employees. Initially targeting individuals, the service has since expanded to include employers, as Ben’s Health & Wellbeing Director, Rachel Clift, explains: “We have since developed this service by working with our Ben4Business partners, and have developed this service around their needs.”

As part of the service, Ben provides a range of support for those dealing with mental health issues, from further medical referrals, to one-to-one meetings with mental health professionals. Specialist information and self-help resources are also provided as part of the scheme.

Since the conception of the initiative, Ben has seen a rise in employers requesting mental aftercare and support following critical incidents, and hopes that this service will see the charity supporting more individuals in need. Last year alone saw Ben’s critical response service supporting over 140 industry employees, with the most common use of the service being requested by employers and employees who have been affected by a colleague taking their own life. According to the Mental Health Foundation, men are around three times more likely to commit suicide than women, and account for three quarters of suicides in 2018. With the automotive industry having a particularly high proportion of male employees and a greater exposure to physical injury, Rachel acknowledges that automotive employees are therefore exposed to a particularly high risk of developing mental health issues.

So far, the service has proved to be a great source of support for employees of a number of companies, including Lookers. Two Lookers staff were witnesses to the Manchester Arena bombings in May 2017, and whilst they were not physically harmed, the event proved to be deeply traumatic for many, like them, who were present. Ben provided support to the two who were affected through face-to-face meetings. Sarah Williams, Head of HR Operations at Lookers, also details that Ben also provided support through “home visits and phone counselling” for those who were unable to attend work. The service, described as “very responsive” by Sarah, is not limited to aiding those subjected to large scale traumatic events. Michael McCulloch, General Sales Manager at TrustFord Ballymena, explains that the scheme has had a “profoundly positive” effect on those who are not only dealing with recent events, but “their own individual tumultuous lives, too.”

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