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Lending a helping hand to electrical workers

09 November, 2019

For a special guest column this month, Gambica has invited Tessa Ogle, CEO of the Electrical Industries Charity, to look at the important topic of mental health. Gambica, which is located in the same building as the EIC, helps to raise funds for the charity at its annual lunch.

In 1904, ten men from the burgeoning electrical industry came together to discuss what might happen to “those who had spent their lives in establishing the electrical industry and had been unable to secure sufficient monetary recompense to support them if accident, infirmity, misfortune, or old age, limited their activities or curtailed their means”. These far-sighted, public-spirited men decided to do something about providing for industry colleagues who had fallen on hard times and each donated £10 (worth about £1,200 today) as a token of their intent.

The product of their discussion, the Electrical Trades Benevolent Institution, was founded the following year, pre-dating the introduction of unemployment benefits in the UK by 15 years, and the launch of the National Health Service by a full 43 years. 

More than a century later, even though the UK’s welfare state now provides universal healthcare and state pensions, these resources are not limitless. More than 1.3 million people work in the electrical sector, 10% of whom will need help at some point. Consequently, the Electrical Trade Benevolent Institution – known today as the Electrical Industries Charity (EIC) – is as active as ever. 

We know that when a challenge becomes overwhelming – whether personal or work-related – the impact can be devastating for the individual and for their family. We don’t just support the industry workers, our community model of care means we also look out for apprentices, employees, retired colleagues and their immediate families. We can help regardless of circumstances, health or age. In 1987, our youngest beneficiary was three years of age, whilst the oldest was 102.

EIC programmes and services are provided free thanks to company donors, sponsors, volunteer committee members and fundraisers.

When unforeseen circumstances arise or life deals a blow, a little extra help can make all the difference. Therefore, we support the electrical industries by providing access to financial grants and assistance for a wide range of needs from the everyday to the exceptional. These include disability adaptations, mobility equipment, home repairs and basic essentials such as heating and food. We also offer electrical engineering scholarships, career development and transition assistance, complex case management support, will-writing help, apprentice scholarships and bursary scheme, support for carers, legal advice, telephone counselling and debt advice.

In 2019, we decided to focus, in particular, on mental health issues. One in six workers experience stress, anxiety or depression and these are some of the most common matters we deal with. However, 95% of people never discuss their feelings with a significant other. Poor mental health can manifest itself in many ways, from mild anxiety, depression or a mix of both, to severe phobias and addictions such as alcoholism.

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