September 7, 2022
by Persuasion PR

Charity challenge to help re-write mental health stigmas


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Photo: L to R- Claire McCann, Tom Mullen, Tamsin Curtis, Andy Robson, Jason Davies, Martin Kennedy, Natasha Cooper, Melissa Flynn, Mark Butcher, Dave Brown and Andrew Rennie.

Staff from Vistry Partnerships North East continue to promote an open book policy towards mental health, having completed a physical challenge aimed at encouraging conversations around suicide.

Joining forces with Vistry Group, over three weeks, staff will walk, cycle, horse ride, swim and hop a total of 1163 miles in relay stages. Throughout the journey participants will carry a book, which has been signed by employees who wish to pledge their support to raising awareness – as well as those who have been impacted by suicide, through the untimely loss of friends, family, colleagues, or someone in their community.

The journey is in memory of Vistry Group employee Brandon Windeatt-Ball, who sadly took his own life in 2020.

Starting at Vistry Partnerships most northerly office at Great Park, Newcastle, the route will finish at Housebuilding South West in Exeter.

For the 16 strong team from Vistry Partnerships North East, the journey included a nine mile walk to Saltwell Park in Gateshead, followed by a 45-mile bike ride to Crathorne Hall, in Yarm – where the book was passed on to the Vistry Partnerships Yorkshire team.

Completing the first leg – the walking part of the relay – was Dave Brown, Jason Davies, Andy Robson, Tamsin Curtis, Mark Butcher, Claire McCann, Tasha Cooper, Mel Flynn, Ross Cairns, Tom Mullen and Martin Kennedy. Joining Dave and Jason on the cycle ride was Andrew Rennie, Jonathan Rudge and John Collins, with David Donkin and Mark Butcher the teams’ support drivers.

Dave Brown, Managing Director with Vistry Partnership North East, said: “There has been a long-held stigma around mental health and it is vital that we all play our part in encouraging people to speak up and ask for help if they are struggling. We hope that through our policies, support networks, access to coping mechanisms and our fundraising efforts, we can help chip away at these barriers and encourage more open conversations in the work place and at home.”

Through its support of suicide prevention charity Papyrus, Vistry Group and Vistry Partnerships has already raised over £28,000 this year – on the way to a target of £172,500 by the end of 2022 – whilst also creating a culture and strategies aimed at promoting mindfulness and openness around mental health.

Initiatives include regular ‘Time to talk’ sessions – covering a wide range of Mental Health topics – presented by specially trained people from within the business. These sessions are run to give people information, promote discussion and to allow employees to speak up – confidentially – about how they are feeling. There are six trained mental health first aiders in the North East office, and over 120 in the Vistry business nationally.

Vistry offers all employees access to a 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme to offer free, confidential support on a wide range of issues. These include – but are not limited to – bereavement and grief, loneliness, addiction, living with illness, domestic abuse, relationship and family breakdown, menopause support, occupational health, mental health and financial and legal issues. Vistry also works with ConstructionLine and the Lighthouse Foundation who offer support for anyone working in the construction industry.

Sadly, suicide is the biggest killer of people under the age of 35 in the UK and figures from the Office of National Statistics* showed an increase in suicide amongst unskilled construction workers in 2020 – to a ten year high.

As well as the fundraising undertaken for Papyrus, Vistry donated over £215,000 to the mental health charity Mind in 2020/21.

Vistry Partnerships North East is currently active on 10 projects across the region, with more sites due to start throughout 2022. With a gross development value of almost £400 million, it will deliver approximately 500 homes this year to customers and clients across a number of tenures. Major ongoing projects include a 350-home development at Bracken Grange, in Middlesbrough and a 375-home scheme at Kirkleatham Green, in Redcar.

*ONS data: 


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