The Keith Park construction team has become the latest Ryman site to receive accreditation from Mates in Construction, the preventative programme aimed at reducing suicide numbers in the construction industry.
The Hobsonville team, who lost a young colleague to suicide earlier in the year, proved just how seriously they are taking the mental health and wellbeing of their fellow workers by subscribing in high numbers to become Site Connectors on the Mates programme.
Mates’ National Training and Delivery Lead Raman Lee said there were clearly high levels of empathy amongst the team members at Keith Park.
“It’s amazing. It’s definitely one of the highest ratios I have seen.”
The required ratio to receive accreditation is five connectors for every 100 workers. Keith Park now has 19 connectors out of 300 workers and 80% of all site workers have been inducted into the programme.
Adds Raman: “It shows that people want to be responsible for mental wellbeing.”
Connectors are people who received training and can link up a person with someone who is ASIST trained, which stands for Applied Suicide Intervention and Skills Training.
Keith Park Health & Safety Coordinator Nancy Strapp, along with her husband Leading Hand Chris Strapp, had been connectors since 2021 and Nancy now hopes to join Health & Safety Lead Luke Thompson in becoming ASIST trained.
This two day course would then qualify the person to become the on site mental first aider
Raman also praised Ryman Healthcare, a Mates in Construction premium partner, for its considerable investment in the programme.
“It constitutes considerable investment by the company around health and safety which is to be commended.
“The expectation has been set by Ryman that workers on this site will be part of this and that support has been followed through, so that’s really awesome.
Field Officer Damian Tuiloma with the Mates accreditation plaque.
“Organisations like Ryman have helped it to become a movement.
“And what you get back from workers is gratitude. Workers genuinely appreciate their wellbeing is being emphasised and given importance by saying we can have this time on pay. And those skills are transferable, you can take them home and be better parents, or better partners, so it flows out into the community as a whole.”
The presentation of the Mates plaque came a few days before World Suicide Prevention Day on the 10th September, with Mates accredited sites ‘flying the flag’ in recognition.
Raman encouraged the team to recognise how important their individual efforts could be.
“Last year 60 less men took their lives than the year before, that is a significant reduction in suicide.
“Every little thing that we do to help our fellow men and women beside us, and taking this message home to our whanau as well creates a positive ripple that will go together to build those waves and change the world. We couldn’t be doing it without you.”
Field Officer Damian Tuiloma awarded the 19 certificates to the newly-announced Connectors on site and awarded the team their Mates plaque too.
Senior Health & Safety Advisor Gidion Munyaradzi receives his Connector certificate (above) and all the Connectors hold up their certificates with pride (below).
“Without these guys we wouldn’t have that ‘fire extinguisher’ to turn to in case of emergency so these guys have put their hands up and they’re willing to have a conversation with anybody on site when they’re doing it tough,” Damian said.
“They’re willing take it on their shoulders and be that ‘lighthouse’ – we see them as lighthouses, extensions of us at Mates. We know that our lighthouses help guide those ships back to safety and keep them away from the rocks. Your safety is really important and that’s why we’ve increased those numbers on site.”
Luke thanked the Mates team for attending and left a final thought for the day: “It only takes 10 seconds of courage to ask a mate how they are.”
From left: Site Supervisor Darrin Green, Health & Safety Advisor Nancy Strapp, Senior Health & Safety Advisor Gidion Munyaradzi and Mates’ National Training and Delivery Lead and Field Officer Raman Lee.