Ben is the charity dedicated to supporting the people of the automotive industry, providing support for life for them and their family dependents. To find out more about Ben, visit www.ben.org.uk.
We reached out learn more, and spoke with Rachel Clift, Health & Wellbeing Director at Ben.
Mario Laghos: Ben has been doing great work in providing advice, counselling and financial support to automotive workers, past or present, and their families, the importance of which is heightened by the current Coronavirus crisis. Could you tell us about those measures, and how they can be accessed?
Rachel Clift: Ben is always here for the automotive community, providing health and wellbeing support for automotive people and their family dependants.
Over the past few months, Ben has seen a marked increase in the number of people turning to the charity seeking support for their mental health and money concerns. This demand is set to continue growing as the full impact of Covid-19 unfolds. Ben is supporting people through Covid-19 in the following ways:
Mental health support
Over 50% of people who turn to Ben need help with their mental health and this is expected to rise in the coming months as the impact of Covid-19 continues.
Individuals can continue to receive support for any mental health issues they are facing. Ben provides mental health assessments, life coaching and telephone-based counselling, as well as other talking therapies. Ben is also fast-tracking access to its digital therapeutic platform so individuals can access self-help support programmes for anxiety, depression, resilience, stress, sleep, as well as mindfulness activities. A new programme called ‘Coping with challenging times’ has recently launched on the platform to help people through Covid-19.
On a case by case basis, Ben is supporting individuals in financial need, administering welfare grants for food, utility bills, household goods, essential travel costs, childcare and council tax. Ben’s support services team are also working with individuals to help with relevant solutions such as payment breaks for mortgage lenders, housing providers and utility bills. The team is supporting people to access relevant grants, as well as helping them maximise benefits they are entitled to.
Ben is giving fast-track access to Information, Advice and Guidance for individuals who have financial concerns as a result of the current situation. Support also includes access to Ben’s digital platform, where self-help support programmes are available for issues including money worries. Click here for more information on the financial support Ben is providing during this time.
Coronavirus hub - online tips, advice & tools
Ben has created a ‘Coronavirus hub’ on its website (www.ben.org.uk/coronavirus), with specially developed online tips, advice & tools now available, including:
Ben will continue to develop relevant online tips, advice & tools and promote them on its social media channels, as well as via email. Individuals can sign up to receive regular tips, advice & tools to their email inbox: www.ben.org.uk/signup.
Individuals can still receive support specifically related any mental health issues they may be experiencing which includes access to mental health assessments, life coaching and telephone based counselling or other talking therapies. We are unable to provide face to face counselling or other talking therapies at this time in line with Government guidance.
ML: Are there industry specific health concerns that relate to working in the automotive industry?
RC: Our figures show that mental health is the biggest issue for automotive industry people – with over half getting in touch with us last year (52%) for support with issues like stress, anxiety and depression. This number is growing each year. Last year, over 700 people received a Mental Health Assessment through Ben, with around 90% of those individuals going on to have counselling or other talking therapies. Over 180 people received life coaching in 2019. Our life coaching & mentoring service is a 6-week telephone-based programme supporting people to build their confidence, self-esteem and developing positive coping strategies. Life coaching is also great for individuals who want to make specific changes in their life and is delivered in line with behavioural change theory and practice. It’s important to acknowledge that individuals and employers also approach Ben at crisis point too. We provide reactive and responsive support for individuals who are at risk of suicide or self-harm. The automotive industry has a high proportion of male employees and men are around three times more likely to take their own life than women. To respond to traumatic incidents in the workplace, we offer a Critical Response Service to help employers support their employees. Through this service, we provide support which, to date, has seen us predominantly supporting employers and employees after a colleague has taken their own life. This is a stark reality for us and the industry. We would normally provide this support on site but we are currently providing support remotely via telephone, video conference and email. With issues like this in mind, we have a responsibility. We look after our own – our automotive industry people. We’re here for anyone who works, or has worked, in the automotive industry and their family dependents when life gets tough.
Automotive industry people are also going online for support with their health and wellbeing. The most common searched for topics on our website (www.ben.org.uk) include anxiety, stress, depression, money worries and sleep.
Our approach to mental health isn’t just about when something goes wrong. We know that, by supporting a person’s overall wellbeing, we can better support their physical and mental health. That’s why we have introduced online self-help support on a wide range of topics, including anxiety, depression, debt, sleep, self-care and loneliness. By providing tips, advice and tools online (and via email) we aim to provide much-needed support to people so they can prevent issues arising or developing into a crisis.
ML: Does Ben work with trade unions and the government to help tailor the industry response to the Coronavirus crisis, and how has that cooperation manifested in the recent period?
RC: Ben works in partnership with automotive industry companies, including dealer groups, retailers and manufacturers, to support the health and wellbeing of their workforce. Ben also works closely with automotive trade associations to spread the word about Ben to their members.
Through Ben4Business, Ben works with employers and their HR teams to understand the health and wellbeing challenges that their people face and agree a programme of awareness and training initiatives to help address those issues. Ben offers an employee referral service for companies seeking support for their employees.
The Ben4Business programme brings together the services that Ben offers to industry partners in one package, consisting of a range of awareness and engagement initiatives, training programmes and digital support to help promote its services within companies. By working in partnership with the automotive industry, together we can support their people through life’s challenges and build a stronger, more resilient automotive industry.
ML: Lastly, I would invite you to let our readers know about Ben’s ongoing campaigns, and how our readers can help contribute to them:
RC: We would encourage automotive industry people to sign up to our email list so we can keep them posted about upcoming initiatives, campaigns, as well as provide tips, advice & tools. They can sign up here: www.ben.org.uk/signup.