There’s no denying that the global pandemic has significantly disrupted lives in many ways. According to analysis from the Centre for Mental Health, at least half a million more people in the UK may experience mental ill health as a result of COVID-19.
With unprecedented times increasing stress, anxiety and depression, members of the Institute of Quarrying (IQ) are reminded about the various levels of support that is available in times of difficulty.
James Thorne is CEO at IQ. He says: “No one could have predicted the chaos caused by COVID-19. New data continues to bring to our attention the impact it is having particularly on our mental health. Eighty-two percent of UK adults feel stressed, more than four in ten young adults (18-24 year olds) feel lonely, and more than 60 percent of adults admit that their mental health has worsened as a result of Coronavirus restrictions.
“With more than 3,500 members situated at locations across the UK, the Institute of Quarrying itself is a community style support network for professionals working within mineral extractives industries. Our local IQ branches have adapted their traditional ways of hosting technical evenings and networking events so that regular contact amongst members still happens, which in challenging times is more meaningful than ever.
“Mental health specific webinars have also been at the centre of our communications strategy. Our recent week-long Digital Health & Safety Conference, in association with the Institute of Asphalt Technology, featured a specific mental health slot and proved very popular. Delivered by James Quinn, President Elect at Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), it explored the impact of COVID-19 in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees returning to work either on-site or remotely. We’ve also had Mates in Mind - a charitable programme to improve and promote positive mental health in the workplace - deliver an insightful presentation and offer its services in times of difficulty.
”We’d like to remind members to sign up to the IQ Connect app, follow us on social media and keep an eye out on their email for all of the latest updates.”
IQ Benevolent Fund
In addition to the ongoing programme of webinars, regional branch events and community networking, support is also available from the near century-old IQ Benevolent Fund (IQBF). Established in 1925, it has helped many members and families over the years facing financial uncertainties because of long-term illness, disability or death.
Wanda Zablocki, the full-time IQBF welfare officer, is on hand to help, including advice on financial support and to offer a regular phone call or email exchange to help with isolation. She says: “I’m sure the extension of the Government’s furlough scheme is a welcome relief for many but we’d like to remind IQ members that the Benevolent Fund is here to help them and their families through some of the most challenging times in their lives. The fund itself is so versatile and can help in more ways than one; we’re open to new applications.”
James Davies, 18, is one of the beneficiaries of the Benevolent Fund. He is the son of a former IQ member and supporter, Shane Davies.
Shane, a former Quarry Manager for Aggregates Industries, sadly passed away in 2016, survived by James and his wife. Anna, Shane’s widow, contacted the IQ with a request for financial support towards college tuition and the cost of a new instrument, all which will enable James to pursue his dream of becoming a classical musician. IQBF agreed to pay for extra tuition so that James could pass his Level 7 clarinet exam and also contributed towards the costs of purchasing a new professional quality instrument.
James says: “I cannot begin to state how much I appreciate your help. Music has always meant such a great deal to me throughout my whole life and has helped me through so much. From a young age I have wanted to follow a career in music. Unfortunately, a dream in music isn’t easily accessible to those on lower incomes. The fact that IQ has even considered me for this fund fills me with hope, not only for my future, but also for the future of others who are in a similar predicament.”
Wanda adds: “Anyone contacting IQBF can be assured that their situation will be treated with discretion and care, and each case that comes forward is treated individually by an independent board of trustees.
“Our message is simple. The Institute of Quarrying and our Benevolent Fund is here for those in need. Whether it’s for some advice, a listening ear or financial support, pick up the phone or email us and we will be more than happy to assist.”
Enquiries about the IQBF should be directed to Wanda Zablocki, IQBF welfare officer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0115 855 6500.