Fiona presenting mental wellbeing to Tideway
Fiona Dowling, wellbeing champion, and Kimberley McGinty, skills and employment adviser, talk about mental wellbeing, FIR and modern slavery to operatives on Tideway East Chambers Wharf site

We are delivering a series of briefings on FIR, mental health and modern slavery to the workforce.

Thames Tideway management asked VGC to give our presentation to all Thames Tideway East and West sites. To date we have presented to over 250 operatives.

The general foreman at Greenwich said: “I’d like to thank VGC and Kim and Fiona for the presentation this morning on FIR, modern slavery, mental health and wellbeing. It was presented extremely well and the feedback from the site team has been very good.”

Modern slavery:

Around 136,000 people are living in modern slavery in the UK. Construction has multiple layers of subcontracting, and many roles are low-skilled, labour intensive and filled by an immigrant workforce. This provides the perfect environment for modern slavery to exist unnoticed. See the video ‘Concrete’ about human trafficking and forced labour.

Please keep your eyes and ears open.

If you see a potential situation, do not try to tackle it yourself. Report it so the authorities can manage it. If you approach someone you could make things worse for them. Instead

  • Contact the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) – call free on 0800 432 0804 (Mon – Friday 09:00 – 17:00pm) or 0115 959 7049 (chargeable). The GLAA has interpreters and can take calls in any language.

VGC is a member of StrongerTogether which aims to reduce modern slavery, particularly hidden forced labour, and we have signed the construction protocol, whose partners commit to working together to protect vulnerable people.

Tideway team after FIR, modern slavery presentationFIR – fairness, inclusion and respect:

Everyone’s uniqueness is valued, and we support people to do the very best job they can. FIR is about making the workplace better for everyone.

As a sector, we need to embrace FIR in order to attract and keep the talented people we need. The Supply Chain Sustainability School has produced a video explaining what FIR means – watch it on YouTube.

If you see or experience behaviour on site that makes you feel uncomfortable, please fill in our whistleblowing form to make us aware. You do not have to give your name.

Staying mentally as well as physically fit:

Early intervention is key to addressing any mental ill health. Stay aware and look out for one another: if you see that someone needs support, and you don’t feel confident to talk to them yourself, contact Fiona, who is a trained mental health first aider.

It is not a weakness to say that you need support: we all need to offload to relieve our stress and open channels of communication.

Construction worker helpline posterIf you have worries about your health, finances, or other issues: get support!

  • Talk to your manager, your key influencer, one of our mental health champions, or contact Fiona Dowling