The Trade Institute will help tradespeople in the Bourne, Stamford and Deepings areas
The suicide rate among tradespeople has caused two sisters to invest time and money in preventing further deaths.
Already busy running Alto Electrical, electrician Coleen Everitt and her sister, Kay Muxlow, are preparing to open The Trade Institute in Bourne.
A hub bringing together electricians, plumbers, and other trades, it will offer education, resources and mental health support under one roof.
According to government data, an average of 687 trade workers died by suicide between 2019 and 2021 - or two a day.
“We have both lost people in the construction industry and there is one particular person who is part of my reason for doing this,” said Coleen.
“During covid we were having a difficult time in business and, having been there myself, I do not like the thought of other people in a similar situation without someone to talk to.”
Therapy rooms are part of what The Trade Institute will offer, where therapists can make themselves available for talking therapies, physio and other sessions.
“The idea of having therapy rooms here is not just for mental health, but to help people in different ways,” said Coleen, a 36-year-old mum of three.
Kay, 34, added: “From a very young age men are told to ‘man up’ but that's the biggest load of codswallop. I think there’s too much stigma surrounding people’s mental health, especially if they’re in the trades. We want to normalise talking about it.”
Based in Roman Bank, off Cherry Holt Road, Bourne, The Trade Institute has a welcoming reception where tradespeople are greeted and can stow valuables in a secure locker, which also contains charging points for mobile phones and power tools.
Within the former warehouse there is now a woodwork shop, metalwork shop, and a room for welding and forging. Alongside these there are two paint shops - one with a roller door through which vehicles can be brought in. The working areas will be overseen by Steve Hughes, a former serviceman with experience in trades and an ability to spot when someone might need a listening ear.
The facilities, as well as a shower and a place to wash workwear, are there for anyone to use, whether in training or already a qualified professional. People will be able to book packages incorporating different elements of what is available.The therapy rooms are decorated in relaxing themes, including one with a sandy beach, another with a space theme that can be seen under UV light, a jungle room, and a garden room.
Coleen, who is skilled at envisioning how a space can be used, is their creator.
“I have ADHD and autism, which has affected my work,” she said. “I used to go around quoting for and carrying out jobs but then never invoicing for them. It was only when I brought Kay into the office side of the business that I was able to get on top of bringing in the money.”
Kay added: “But because of Coleen’s ADHD and autism she is able to picture how things will look and so has the vision for converting the warehouse space into the hub. We refer to it as a superpower. She is very creative.”To help them fund this vision, Coleen and Kay called upon people they are close to, including family. Coleen and Kay’s parents, Derrick and Karen Clarke, invested invested their savings to help it become established.
The sisters are also seeking sponsorship to help them complete the £500,000 project and have details on how to become a sponsor on their website thetradeinstitute.co.uk
Those who have already helped include Travis Perkins, whose Bourne branch manager Chris Benton provided materials, time and expertise, and Stamford Endowed Schools, which donated workbenches and brazing hearths it no longer needed. Coleen’s accountant husband, Joe, has also been involved in getting the project underway.
Supporters will have their name on a ‘Wall of Heroes’ within the hub when it opens, which Kay and Coleen hope will be later this year.
If successful, their aim is to open 30 trade institutes in the UK over the next 12 years.
Tradespeople and therapists are being invited to get in touch. The Trade Institute has an open day on Saturday, August 12, from 10am to 2pm.