We are all probably aware of the ongoing publicity around mental health issues and people’s reluctance to come forward and speak when they have a problem – especially men and boys.
Women and men both suffer; in fact statistics say that 1 in 5 women will suffer from some form of mental health disorder compared to 1 in 8 men. However, when it comes to suicide, there is a very worrying swing the other way. According to the Mental health Foundation, of the nearly 6,000 suicides that occurred in the UK in 2017, around three times as many men committed suicide compared to women.
The nature of the haulage business means that for many staff it can be a lonely occupation. Many hours and days on the road, family left to cope when husbands or wives are away, and the general day to day stress of driving for a living can take its toll.
So, when Watts Truck & Van were asked by Ferryman whether we would like to partner them in their Mental Health Awareness campaign, there was absolutely no doubt in our minds that we would join them.
Why did Ferryman decide to put Mental Health Awareness images on their trucks?
Company / Finance Director Cathy Hamar-Davies explained.
“We have vehicles with great big blank spaces on the doors. I wanted to fill those spaces so I asked for a new design to go on them.”
Various ideas were considered. Being in Wales a Welsh language theme was thrown into the discussions as well as other more fun based ideas. However, after discussing them all, it was decided that not only did they want the space to be filled, but Ferryman wanted the space to be filled with something that was meaningful and useful.
Transport Manager Richard Morris had only been in the role for a short while and when he joined the business he made a point of getting around and chatting to all the staff. These informal chats were a great way of not only getting to know the staff, but also of finding out if they had any concerns or worries, in work or outside of it.
The outcome of those chats, combined with their increasing awareness of mental health campaigns resulted in Ferryman deciding that mental health was the best use of the space. After all, the trucks will be driving up and down the country getting the message out there.
“It can be a solitary profession being out on the road” said Cathy, “but it’s not just the drivers, everyone can have their issues, whether it’s age related, family worries or financial.”
“Family is important and we often don’t think about them enough. When a driver is away for long periods of time, it’s not just them that suffers, it’s the family too.”
She went on to say that there are issues that people tend not to consider when thinking about mental health in the haulage industry. The pressure on drivers is much more than it used to be. Roads are so much busier meaning there are more accidents and traffic queues. Roadworks can sometimes mean miles of stationary traffic. It all takes its toll. A driver may get stuck in bad traffic or an accident which could mean hours of delay. Meanwhile the family are at home wondering when their loved one will get home, whether they have been involved in an accident and what are they going to do if they have been. The pressure is on the whole family.
The Way Forward for Ferryman
There is increasing pressure on the government to introduce legislation that forces employers to have mental health policies in place and ensure that they have someone trained in mental health for staff to talk to. Alongside that is a demand for a change in the law to give mental health first aid equal status to physical first aid.
Ferryman have decided not to wait for new legislation or law changes. They plan to put mental health policies in place as it is important for their staff and their families. The plan is to build on those initial chats and turn them into regular occurrences; giving drivers a chance to talk and get things off their chest. But more importantly, it’s a chance for Ferryman senior management to see their drivers on a regular basis, giving them a chance to notice any small changes that may indicate that someone is perhaps having problems.
“Often, a lot of these things are unofficial” said Cathy “There is no diagnosis of depression, people may not even consider themselves anxious or depressed but their behaviour gives away that something is wrong. We want to catch those issues or problems before they get too big. We want our staff to be able to come and talk to us.”
The regular reviews will be extended across the business to include office, warehouse and security staff – anyone who works at Ferryman.
Watts Trucks & Ferryman
90% of Ferryman’s trucks are DAF hence the partnership with Watts over the Mental Health Campaign.
They have been involved with Watts Truck & Van for many years and have always had their trucks maintained and serviced by Watts, but the relationship has really thrived and grown over the last 4 years. A key part of that relationship is Kristian Seddon, Commercial Vehicle Consultant at Newport. “We wanted a closer relationship with a local company and Kristian and Watts have given us that,” said Cathy. “They don’t give us the hard sell and are always supportive. They go above and beyond to help us out.”
Pontllanfraith based Ferryman is 30 years old this year!.
The haulage and warehousing company started out back in 1989 and became a limited company in 1991. The business has gone from strength to strength and has grown considerably since those early years. Now employing around 50 staff the company provides haulage services, (including same day deliveries), warehousing and contract distribution services.
Their success over the years has enabled them to purchase their 9.5 acre site and they now also sub let areas to other businesses, one of which is a children’s nursery, which has obvious benefits for staff who require childcare services!
Ferryman are a member of The Pallet Network (TPN) who won the Pallet Network of the Year award at this year’s Multimodal awards.
As well as being an award-winning company themselves The Pallet Network (TPN) have their own awards that celebrate outstanding performances in logistics throughout the network.
At the TPN awards in April this year, Ferryman was one of only 8 companies in the TPN Network to be awarded the TPN KPI award. The TPN KPI Awards are to reward elite performance based on KPI data and winners have consistently achieved 99% on compliance criteria throughout 2018.
Mental Health Awareness – It’s OK to not be OK