Ben launches Critical response service to help automotive employers support their people in times of crisis

Automotive industry charity, Ben, has today officially launched its Critical response service, to support employers and their employees in times of crisis.

This free service sees Ben working with automotive industry businesses to provide appropriate, often immediate, support for employees when they experience an unexpected or traumatic incident or event.

This specialist service supports employees who have recently experienced:

• Death of a colleague or customer

• Serious injury to a member of staff or customer

• Physical or psychological threat (life threatening risk or situations of extreme violence)

• Incidents where the circumstances are so unusual or the sights and sounds so distressing, that individuals need support to cope with the trauma experienced.

Ben has been developing this onsite trauma support service since 2017, after being approached for support by automotive Ben4Business partners following a traumatic incident affecting their employees. This official launch of the service demonstrates Ben’s commitment in responding to the needs of the industry and supporting its people in times of need. Ben has seen a rise in employers requesting support with critical incidents, so this newly launched service will see the charity supporting more individuals.

Last year, Ben’s Critical response service supported over 140 automotive industry employees in response to a critical incident. To date, the service has seen Ben predominantly supporting employers and employees who have been affected by a colleague taking their own life.

As part of the service, Ben provides:

• Employer guidance, support and reassurance from a single point of contact

• Employee briefings providing awareness on emotional responses and coping strategies

• Assessing the wellbeing of individuals who have been affected, through 1:1 engagement meetings

• Referral pathway for ongoing support (such as counselling) for individuals when needed

• Specialist information and self help resources for employers and employees.

Rachel Clift, Health & Wellbeing Director, said: “While businesses do everything possible to minimise risk to staff or customers, there are occasions when a traumatic incident happens. These incidents can impact everyone who was directly, or indirectly, involved and cause emotional distress.

“At Ben, we understand that, when a traumatic incident occurs, it’s essential to deal with the situation promptly and efficiently. Employers need to gauge the reaction of their employees and assess the impact of the incident on their wellbeing. That’s where we come in – we’re here to support employers and their employees every step of the way.

“Since 2017, our Ben4Business partners have approached us for wellbeing support during a crisis and we want to ensure we continue to meet this need. When we first provided this service, it was mainly offered directly to individuals, but employers are now also supported and can benefit from our expertise. We have since developed this service by working with our Ben4Business partners and we have developed this service around their needs and supporting their people.

“A stark reality is that we have mostly supported people after a colleague has taken their own life. The industry has a high proportion of male employees and men are around three times more likely to commit suicide than women[1]. We have a responsibility to look after our own – our automotive industry people. We encourage all automotive employers to come forward and work with us to support their people in times of need.”

Critical response service testimonials: In May 2017, Lookers requested support from Ben for employees based at their HQ in Manchester following the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert. Two of the company’s employees had been at the Manchester Arena on the night of the terrorist attack. Neither suffered any injuries but they were left traumatised by the incident and needed support.

Sarah Williams, Head of HR Operations at Lookers, said: “Following the terrorist attack at the MEN Arena in 2017, we contacted Ben to help us provide support to our people though face to face meetings. Ben was very responsive and provided two counsellors who attended head office and offered home visits and phone counselling to those that were unable to attend work. We greatly appreciated Ben’s expertise and help during what were very distressing circumstances.”

Sarah Rowlands, HR Manager at VWG Division, Sytner Group, said: “The help Ben provided to us recently was invaluable. Following the critical incident we had at one of our sites, we asked for Ben’s support and I didn’t expect for the team to be with us so quickly. Colleagues have felt supported through the grief they have been feeling and I have felt better equipped to help them. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to the Ben team.”

Michael McCulloch, General Sales Manager at TrustFord Ballymena, said: “I have been in the motor trade for 22 years and I watched a Ben TrustFord story video at our annual conference which brought a tear to my eye. Little did I know that Ben would be on our site less than three weeks later, helping our team through emotional turmoil. Ben has had a profoundly positive effect on many of our team, who are not just dealing with the recent events but their own individual tumultuous lives too.”

To seek support with a critical incident in your workplace, call Ben’s helpline on 08081 311 333. To find out more about the service and how Ben can support your employees through an unexpected or traumatic incident, read our leaflet. Ben’s Critical response service is part of its Ben4Business programme, partnering with employers to support the health and wellbeing of their people.