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Wates directors open up about health issues

16 June 2020

Directors at Wates Construction are to share their own experiences dealing with bereavement and serious illness, as part of a series of events organised by the firm during Men’s Health Week (15-21 June).

By sharing their experiences, they aim to encourage industry workers to talk more and share their own experiences.

The week was kicked off yesterday by Wates Construction managing director Mark Tant who delivered video address to the firm’s UK wide team, encouraging them to communicate and talk, despite the social distancing measures currently in place due to covid-19.

He addressed the difficult times workers find themselves in at the moment due to pressures balancing work and family life or worries about loved ones and their health, all currently exacerbated during the pandemic.

Chandler will share the recent experience of his father’s death after being admitted to St Bart’s Royal London Hospital following a fall on a blog this week. Coincidentally, within days of this happening, Chandler handled a call asking for Wates’ help to deliver a rapid five-week project to provide additional intensive care beds and capacity at the hospital in response to the covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “Undoubtedly I felt personally invested in the Royal London project due to my personal circumstances, so it was great to see our team step up to this critical challenge. This week I’ll be reflecting with colleagues on the testing times we’ve faced in the last few weeks and months – both personally and professionally.

“Losing my dad has turned my family’s life upside down but my hope is that sharing my recent experience may help colleagues and peers across the industry realise that sometimes there are things that are more important than work – and it’s ok to talk about them.”

Meanwhile Paul Dodsworth, Wates’ northern MD has written about being diagnosed with testicular cancer aged 42 and how this has spurred his passion for making cultural changes in what is traditionally considered a ‘macho’ industry.

He said: “As much as the industry is making great strides in becoming more open and inclusive, many are still reluctant to seek help and support with mental and physical health issues which deeply affect our wellbeing. It is absolutely okay not to be okay. We hope that by shining the spotlight on men’s health, we encourage colleagues to feel comfortable in opening up and talking about their thoughts and experiences.”

Wates is also offering a series of online tools to facilitate ‘Time to Talk’ sessions on sites throughout the week and has offered teams access to a Men’s Health MOT hotline where they can talk to a professional about any health related concerns and issues. The firm has 200 trained Mental Health First Aiders on hand to support the workforce when needed.

The week will culminate in a company zoom webinar on Friday 19 June.

Tant said: “As an industry we don’t have the best track record in supporting health and wellbeing so this week is a perfect opportunity to reflect on this and change for the better.”

Men’s Health Week is organised by The Men’s Health Forum, a registered charity whose mission is to improve the health of men and boys in England, Wales and Scotland. In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. Figures from Public Health England in the last five years has shown that men working in the construction industry are at the highest risk of suicide.

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