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Abigail Patel

North West | Architect, Undergraduates

As a student of architecture it is an incredible honour to be asked to be an ambassador for the Architects Benevolent Society and help raise awareness within the architectural profession about the brilliant work that the charity does for people who need their help most.

It’s safe to say that the work ABS do is invaluable for students, graduates, professions- or anyone working within the architectural industry. I wish I had known about the charity during my time studying my undergraduate, when my struggles with anxiety were at their worst. Luckily I have incredible family and friends who helped me through very difficult times, but now I want to be able to give something back and help those who might be in a similar situation and use my own experiences to support others.

Currently, I am studying my MArch (Masters of Architecture) at The Manchester School of Architecture, as well as being student representative on the RIBA North West Regional Council and RIBA National Council. I am passionate about supporting others and advocating for equality, diversity and inclusion in everything I do and I hope that I can bring this into my role within the ABS and help to continue their amazing work!

Read Abigail’s Blog Posts

Alexia Michael

London | Architect

Times are changing and though our generation may be proven to be highly more productive than any other, this comes with a price to pay. It makes us prone to cognitive stress, sensory overload and emotional burn-out. Currently an architect at TateHindle and a Mentor at the University of Westminster providing guidance and advice to students within the industry, I joined ABS as an Ambassador to be the aide I would like to have when I needed it.

Mental health is not something that happens to other people, we all have mental health. It refers to the state of wellbeing and wellbeing is a currency for sharing; sharing trust, respect and communication. We have been trained within the architecture industry with the aim of creating places that would connect people. Yet, our academic and professional environments as architects are far detached from this. There is nothing more valuable in times of crisis than ‘face-to-face’ communication. I am excited to be part of this culture of change and collaboration and aspire to contribute to the work of ABS in all ways possible!

Alice Dammery

South East | Architectural Assistant

It was wonderful to be asked to be an ambassador for The Architects Benevolent Society. They help raise awareness and promote positive mental health and well-being within the architecture profession and at universities.

Tom, Mark, Katie and everyone are really enthusiastic and have created a wonderful community of ABS ambassadors from all over the UK. It was great to be invited to one of their training sessions at Portland Place where we enjoyed insightful discussions with like-mined people – many of whom I still keep in touch with at various events throughout the year!

I first heard about The Architects Benevolent Society in 2017 as an March, final year student at The University of Nottingham. Since then, I have kept in touch and now work as a Part 2 Architectural Assistant for Purcell in the South.

Alina Holyst

Northern Ireland | Architect

I am honoured to join the Society as a Northern Ireland Ambassador. I have a deep understanding of difficulties that the architectural profession can face as I was one of the beneficiaries.

I faced a number of challenges during the recession. My struggle was compounded by a very unfortunate family events and long term illness. With continued help from the Society I finally resolved my issues.

Currently I am a RIBA Chartered Architect and Urban Planner. I am accomplished in working with international stakeholders and I lecture at the Queen’s University Belfast. I am a board member of a number of architectural organisations in Northern Ireland and work as a project architect on exciting schemes in County Down.

My involvement with the Society is not only reciprocal, it is a friendship.

Read Alina’s Blog Posts

Alison Thornton-Sykes

North East | Architect

I am delighted to become an Ambassador for ABS. Having worked as an architect for 27 years I have known of ABS for some time but following an ABS presentation at a local RIBA health and wellbeing event I have only recently discovered the extent of support they provide. This inspired me to become an Ambassador and help to raise awareness in the North East region of the amazing work done by the Society.

I am passionate about the mental health support ABS provides, enabling people to gain access to therapy during difficult times. Having someone to turn to, who can provide advice, through often short periods of difficulties can facilitate returning to work and allow careers to continue and flourish. ABS provide such support and  I am keen to help spread their message.

As Principal Architect at JDDK Architects I have worked on many community projects for a range of charitable organisations who are driven to change people’s lives for the better. It is humbling to work with these people in such settings and by becoming an ABS Ambassador I hope to be able to make a contribution to such change.

Amy Francis-Smith

West Midlands | Architect

I became involved with the ABS to help spread the message of their good work, my own personal experience of battling sudden extreme ill health, where I was forced to take time off studying/working for several years, helps me to empathise with others facing similar hardship.

I had heard about the ABS some years ago, but assumed it was only for fully qualified architects; it was only later did I realise it was open to students and other professionals as well and that there could have been some financial and mental health support available to me.

Through articles, guest blogs, social media and running events, I hope to reduce the stigma of mental illness in the industry and avoid others struggling.

I am an Architect, the Vice-President of the Birmingham Architectural Association, Shaw Trust’s Power 100 2020 & 2021 top most influential Disabled people in the UK, shortlisted for the National Diversity award’s Disability Role Model and a passionate advocate for Inclusive Design/Accessible Housing.

My work and research focuses on providing decent accommodations across the Built Environment for those with a spectrum of disabilities and mental health issues. I sit on Habinteg’s advisory board (an accessible housing association), a Design Council Expert, lobby government to improve the Building Regulations and help educated students and professionals on their social responsibility.

Andy McLeish

Scotland | Architect

I had been aware of the Architects Benevolent Society but it was not until I suffered an accident in 2014 that the true value of what the ABS offer to the profession became apparent to me. They were of great moral and financial support to myself but more importantly to my family immediately following my accident and during my recovery. It is a privilege to now be an ambassador for this fabulous society and be able to share my experience from my families time of need and what the ABS can offer us all.

I am an Architect running my own small practice in Scotland. As an ambassador I want to both promote and support the ABS locally and nationally by raising awareness of the ABS, promoting and engaging with their activities and participating in fundraising initiatives. The ABS offer fabulous support to us all in the profession. They are there when we need them when we or our families fall on hard times, be that financial or be it physical or mental ailment. Alongside my fellow Ambassadors in Scotland, I look forward to many years as an ambassador as part of the ABS family.


Read Andy’s Blog Posts

Angela Dapper

London | Architect

The Architects Benevolent Society has been doing some amazing work, for many years, supporting the Architectural profession. I am really pleased to be one of their Ambassadors to help spread the word about the support and services they have available for Architects. Recent surveys have shown the impact of stress and long hours on both students and the profession, so it is great to see ABS raising awareness around health and wellbeing, as well as being able to support anyone struggling with mental health issues. Everyone is our profession should be aware of best practice and also of the options available to them when they need additional support.


Read Angela’s Blog Posts

Ben Channon

London | Architect

Having had personal experience of the toll that architecture can take on your mental health, this is an issue I have been trying to raise awareness of for some time. I was delighted to discover the amazing work that ABS are doing in this area in collaboration with Anxiety UK, through their #AnxietyArch programme.

I was therefore honoured to be asked to become an ambassador for this great charity, which helps architects and their families at all stages of their careers. I am always inspired when I meet up with the ABS team, whose energy and enthusiasm seems endless! I am very excited to work with the team, share what they do, and to work side-by-side with them as part of the Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum.

Read Ben’s Blog Posts

Bianca Man

London | Architectural Assistant

An ambassador promoted the Society at a lecture, changing my university experience dramatically as I was finally able to address the mental strains which has been festering on my psyche. Mindfulness and emotional management are not topics that are addressed in architectural education, and this is where the Society can come into play. The Society possesses means to therapy provision with quick turnaround, allowing those in need to access professional help which otherwise would not have been immediately available through mainstream channels, nor would it have been affordable to students and young professionals.

I personally want to advocate for open dialogue in order to tackle the stigmas of discussing mental health; allowing the acceptance of it as a natural part of everyday life, especially with the high-energy dynamic of architectural careers taken into consideration. Similar to how I came across the Society, I would like to contribute to its accessibility through outreach events in order to give back to a cause which have tremendously helped me endure a difficult period of time during my studies. Having gone through the arduous process of architectural education, I look forward to sharing my experiences and reaching out to potential benefactors of the Society.

I am currently a Part II Architectural Assistant at Squire & Partners and previous contributor to the RIBA Part I Toolkit to provide tips and advice on dealing with the stresses of studying Architecture. I hope to continue giving back to the architectural community through my role as an Ambassador.

Read Bianca’s Blog Posts

Charlotte Goodman-Simpson

South East | Architect

I am a practicing Architect working for an international practice in Hampshire and I also lecture part-time in Professional Practice for the University of Portsmouth.

Being an Ambassador for the Architect’s Benevolent Society and raising awareness for them is an invaluable alliance that helps support my colleagues in practice and my students at the university, as well as others within the wider architectural industry.

I first got involved with ABS when both my colleagues in practice and my students were affected in their personal lives and the work place, with mental health or other issues, and I felt like I could do more to assist.  I have of course felt the pressures of the business, and life, and this only allows me to relate better to those I want to help.  I have a passion for mentoring and believe that education and awareness is the principle way to break stigma.

It is important to know that ABS is not limited to mental health and their assistance and knowledge goes much further.  Their work with Anxiety UK however proves an incredible resource. I am very excited to see collaboration and change.

Read Charlottes’s Blog Posts

Darren Bray

South East | Architect

The main motivation for becoming involved in ABS, has been due to the amazing support they have given to some of the students that I have taught recently, who have been struggle with different aspects of mental health.

I believe, those of us, who are in a position, to give back to the profession, should see it as our duty, to help and assist the next generation, therefore I see ABS, in playing a significant part of the future of the architectural profession.

David Adams

North East | Architectural Technologist

As an Ambassador I plan to engage with members of the profession and focus on growth of interest in the Northumberland and North East region. I aim to bring in donations to the Society and promote the support it can offer to the professions members or their families in times of need.

I first became aware of the existence of the Society through my activities with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists.  One of our Committee members, the late Marjorie Smith, was very involved as a trustee for the charity and represented our institute for many years. Her enthusiasm has encouraged me to become more involved as a volunteer for ABS.

David Comiskey

Northern Ireland | Architectural Technologist

I am a Chartered Architectural Technologist and a Senior Lecturer in Architectural Technology at Ulster University. It is an honour to be an ambassador for the Architects Benevolent Society (ABS), with my support stemming from what I see as a responsibility, in my role as an academic, to promote the message to the next generation that it is OK not to feel OK and to reach out for help if and when it is needed. This not only relates to mental wellbeing, but in all aspects of life. We are all human and from time to time need support, advice and encouragement. I see my role as not only promoting the great work of ABS, but being that person that individuals can reach out to if they are in need of help.

Eddie Weir

Northern Ireland | Architectural Technologist

It is a pleasure and an honour to be an ABS Ambassador.

I am a Chartered Architectural Technologist and a Practice Principal and currently hold the positions of CIAT Vice-President Practice and Chairman of the Northern Ireland Region.

Those who know me know I am passionate and proud of my Institute and my profession. This passion is a huge motivator and is the reason why I give my time so freely to the issues that are close to me.

We are forward thinking modern professionals, we’re ambitious, we’re driven and we must be adaptable to keep up to date with the future trends while we practice – in which most times can be a demanding environment. For some these demands can take their toll and can detrimentally manifest themselves in many forms. It is absolutely incredible to know that the Society is here to offer help and support to those in our profession who may be experiencing difficult times. For this, I shall continue as always to promote the incredible support that ABS offers to our architectural professions.

Emily Green

North West | Architectural Assistant

I am an architectural assistant based in the North West, studying for my part 3 and hoping to qualify soon, but as everyone knows, life gets in the way sometimes!  I decided to get involved with the ABS after hearing about how they helped a friend, I wasn’t aware of the support they can provide or the breadth of professions they can reach out to, but when I did, I couldn’t not get involved.

I myself have struggled in the last few years; with being unable to work due to illness, which in turn implicates you financially, redundancy and then the aftermath of mental health struggles coming to terms with what had happened.  I feel really passionate about helping others know that they can have confidence in the fact that they are not alone, there is help out there and they do not need to suffer in silence.

I would love to be able to help others by spreading the word of the architects benevolent society and give back to the profession I enjoy so much.  It is so so important that people know there is always help, there is always someone to talk to or listen and all they need to do is ask!

Gary Mees

Scotland | Architectural Technologist

It’s an absolute pleasure and honour to be asked to be an ABS Ambassador.

As a Chartered Architectural Technologist working in the built environment for over four decades and being blessed with full employment over that period I would like to help those who for various reasons have not been so fortunate.

CIAT celebrates architecture in an inclusive manner, much like the work of ABS, and therefore I am fortunate be asked to take on this appointment to promote the work of ABS throughout the UK. As the Institutes President for 2017, I have the opportunity to deliver the message to all the Regions of our institute and will endeavour to work with our fellow professional bodies to raise awareness and funds for ABS, I am looking forward to the challenge.

Hannah Fothergill

London | Architect

It goes without saying that it is a HUGE honour to be an ambassador for Architect’s Benevolent Society. The amazing work they do to support members of the architectural profession and their families in times of difficulty is invaluable and a vital lifeline for many. I cannot wait to spread the word, help raise funds and give something back to the profession that has become my home.

I’ve been a qualified architect for 4 years now and live and work in London.  I’m a relative newbie to the incredible work that the ABS do…and wish I had known about them sooner!

I first met the ABS team when researching how my practice could improve the support offered to staff on mental health and wellbeing.  It was so inspiring to hear about the wonderful work ABS has done over the last 170 years and thrilling to hear about the new collaborations they are embarking on.  The launch of the ABS mental health support network in partnership with Anxiety UK is just the most exciting venture and I will be championing it all the way!

Photo of ABS Ambassador Ilinca Georgescu

Ilinca Georgescu

London | Architect

As a charity that I believe to be vital to the architectural profession, I am honoured to be an
ambassador for the Architects Benevolent Society and I’m hoping to champion their work by raising
awareness for their incredible services and support they offer to those in need.

Having personally experienced struggles with my health, including an autoimmune disease (and long
Covid), I was keen to help others who might be experiencing similar challenges – this is how I came
across ABS. Their services are tailored to specific requirements of each individual needing help, be it
mental health support, financial resources or another one of their services. If we are facing difficulties,
asking for help should be easy, and looking back on my experience, I wish I had done this earlier.
ABS is here to listen, understand and help when you need it most.

Going forward, I am excited to get stuck in to my ambassador role through raising awareness,
organising events and seeking funding opportunities, while also starting a PhD, with the aim of being
able to shine more light on the effects that the built environment has on people’s health and
wellbeing, especially in relation to autoimmunity.

James Brown

South West | Architect

I’m a chartered architect with a small studio based in North Somerset, with links to several academic institutions and organisations across the West Country. I’ve experienced and witnessed some of the mental health issues that are prolific in our industry, leading me to challenge why a nation of creative, problem solving professionals are not applying the same rigour in supporting our own wellbeing, as we do with our projects!

After completing the educational long-haul, and having worked at all scales of architectural practice, a recurring theme throughout is that simply too many people are suffering from the poor mental health epidemic and this must change.

The ABS, along with their partnership with Anxiety UK, is invaluably supporting both our professional and student cohorts with a whole range of measures. Being an ambassador empowers me to share awareness of the support available, the changing attitudes towards mental health, and I’m looking forward to stimulating positive, open conversations with students, academic and professionals alike.

Karyn Williams

Wales | Architectural Technologist

Being involved with the Architects Benevolent Society was a given for me and had already helped some of those people around me. I am delighted to help by contributing my free time to support the ABS as an Ambassador and continue to promote the extensive range of support they offer whilst also raising awareness of mental health issues.

Their aspirations align perfectly with my keen focus on promoting a positive and supportive work culture. It was only when I talked to the great team at ABS did I fully understand how far this support extends and is available to so many within the design industry. Mental health is such an important aspect within our complex and often high pressured industry. I am happy and proud to be a part of it’s fantastic story and passionate about extending the reach of its benefits to the Wales region.”

Read Karyn’s Blog Posts

Katie Fisher


London | Architect

In an industry that experiences more issues with mental health than the norm, ABS’s work is vital – which is why I had to get involved! I personally suffer from anxiety, and I know how lonely, tiring and difficult that can be, so it’s really important to me to spread awareness of the charity, in particular their amazing links with Anxiety UK.

I am currently working as an Architect at Stanton Williams, where I am part of their Equality Diversity and Inclusion Group as well as a Young Trustee at the Architecture Foundation where we support emerging and less-heard voices in the industry. As an ABS ambassador am really keen to use my platform to continue this work and to support the charity in raising awareness.

I was always brought up with the saying “it’s not what happens it’s how you deal with it”. This doesn’t mean you have to deal with it alone, it’s okay to ask for help, and the ABS is always there to support you. In an industry that often celebrates individualism it’s important to remember – you are not alone. We all work in teams; everyone has their own team – be it your family, friends, or at work. We solve problems together and with the ABS on your team we can overcome any difficulties you are facing.

Marno Herinckx

London | Architectural Assistant

I’m Marno and I head up the RIBA Appointments division. I’m over the moon to have the chance to represent and support the Society as an Ambassador.  In my line of work, assisting architects to find new jobs and practices alike, I have learnt of the difficulties architects face when they are unemployed or have been made redundant.

My team and I need to be more than just recruiters; we need to be able to assist our candidates and have a deeper understanding of how to help members of the profession experiencing troubling circumstances. I want to help.

I learned of the Society via the Samaritans in Mental Health Week and now have the chance to get involved and do my best to make even more of a difference.

Melissa Kirkpatrick

London | Architectural Assistant

The ABS kindly sponsored my masters dissertation in 2018, titled ‘Mental Wellbeing and the Architecture Student’. This piece of research was done in collaboration with the RIBA, and interrogated some of the key causes behind mental distress amongst architecture students, and suggested future steps towards addressing these problems.

I am now working as a Part II Architectural Assistant and am proud to be an ambassador for the ABS, alongside my involvement in the Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum. The work all the inspiring people at the ABS are doing is invaluable for everyone in the profession. I strongly believe that we can make a difference, and I would like to empower people to challenge conventional viewpoints surrounding unhealthy cultures and consider their own mental health as a priority within their studies or careers, not as a secondary consideration. We have been seeing a lot of positive progress and this must continue if we are to become a healthy profession.

Read Melissa’s Blog Posts

Michael Dougall

Scotland | Architect

I am an architect living and working in Glasgow, Scotland. I served as the President of the Glasgow Institute of Architects between 2014 – 2016 and it was during discussions at a GIA Awards Dinner that a decision was made to increase the ABS fundraising effort from Scotland. A challenge was set down and after months of planning and training I coaxed a team of 11 architects into cycling the 550 miles between the RIAS, Edinburgh and the RIBA, London in just four days.

The highlight of the trip was the warm welcome we received from the ABS team as we pedalled into Portland Place on a sunny September evening. Since completing the RIAS – RIBA challenge I have also ran the 2016 Edinburgh marathon with a team of architects from across Scotland. I hoped that through participating in and completing these fundraising challenges I have raised the profile of the ABS in Scotland. I have the utmost respect for the staff who work tirelessly to support our fellow professionals and I am now very proud to be part of the team in my role as Ambassador.

Michelle Tomlinson

London | Architect

I first heard about Architects Benevolent Society whilst researching how architectural practices could improve the support offered to staff for mental health and wellbeing. I was amazed to hear about the support they had been providing over the last 170 years! The ABS mental health support network in partnership with Anxiety UK (through their #AnxietyArch programme) raised my awareness of this great charity, which helps architects and their families at all stages of their careers.

In Architectural practice and as an Architectural Design Tutor I have witnessed and experienced the toll architecture can have on the quality of life of those within in the industry. Sometimes the effects are evident in the early stages of their career; rooted from the culture in architecture schools and pressures students feel during their education. One of my motivations for becoming involved in ABS, has been due to the fantastic support they have given to fellow architects, and some of the students whom have struggled with mental health. ABS offer support for needs other than mental health, yet this is the topic that first caught my attention.

I am thrilled to be an Ambassador for the Architects Benevolent Society and part of the collaborative effort to promote the wellbeing of Architects, Assistants, Technologists, Landscape Architects and their families, in times of need. Working within both architectural education and practice, I am among persons who are in a position to help and assist the next generation, whilst supporting those in practice. ABS can play a vital role in the development and wellbeing of the future generation within the industry.

I am excited to be working with the ABS team & collaborators, share what they do, and to work with them as part of the Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum.

Mike Burnell

London | Architect

The architectural world can be extremely demanding on our mental and physical wellbeing, and although as architects we can use our expertise to create heathier environments to live, work and play, sometimes we hit stumbling blocks that fall outside of our control. For those in need, it is important they are able to get the help they require to put them back on track.

It is a privilege to be able to support the Architect’s Benevolent Society in doing just this, and in my role as an Ambassador, to be able to share the message of the work of the charity to raise awareness of the positive impact it has on the profession and the support it offers to those in need.

I am a chartered architect and have worked for Hopkins Architects since 2012, where I have particular expertise in the education sector. I am passionate about mentoring young architects, to share knowledge and experiences and to provide the professional and emotional support they need to develop.

Mike McEvoy

South East | Architect

I’m really glad to be helping the dedicated team at ABS as an ambassador.  I’ve been 50 years in the business, starting off in practice and later on as an academic, so I’m well acquainted with the stresses and strains that come with the ups and downs of construction.  It doesn’t get any easier though and current problems with debt added to the other pressures are very worrying particularly for the current generation of students, an area of interest to me.

ABS is doing a great job at providing help for individuals to get by in an increasingly impersonal world.  I’m covering an area of West Sussex where I’m hoping to both highlight the issues and raise the profile of the charity.

Neil Scroxton

East Midlands | Architect

“Working with the ABS is an opportunity to give back to a community of people, friends and colleagues who give so much to me.  I love my job and as an Architect and employer. The interactions I have with people and the positive energy that is created throughout our industry makes each day enjoyable…  Ok, makes most days enjoyable…  But if I were to lose that, if illness or injury were to take the tools of my trade away and make it impossible to work, it would break my heart.  Beyond that, the fiscal burden would just be salt in the wound.

Being able to offer support during such difficult time helps to lighten the load and frees the mind of worry and that is why I jumped at the chance to spread the good word…  Oh, and they wanted to call me an Ambassador which made me feel very important, and kind of swung it for me really!”

Read Neil’s Blog Posts

Nicola Mead

London | Architectural Assistant

I reached out to ABS to become an ambassador shortly after graduating from university and gaining my BArch degree. I, and many of my friends studying architecture, found the course took a toll on our mental health and I want to help support students going through similar stresses whilst at architecture school and to change the negative aspects of the studio culture.

I aim to raise awareness of ABS and the great work that they do with helping students and those in the architectural profession with mental health problems. I hope my efforts to raise awareness and funds for ABS can help them to continue to support those in need.

Nigel Thorne

London | Landscape architect

To be an ambassador for any organisation means one has to believe in what they wish to achieve. The ABS has one of the most laudable ambitions for those of us within the built-environment professions – to help those of us who might be struggling in some way. Having been part of this professional world for many years, I have been through numerous difficult times in which I wish I had been aware of a benevolent organisation such as this. Now is my chance to help my fellow colleagues by promoting the aims and ambitions of the ABS to everyone who may wish to know more.

With many years experience of being a Samaritan, I understand that trials and tribulations come in all shapes and sizes; when these become too much for us we would all like to know there might be someone out there who might at least listen to us. By spreading the word on behalf of the ABS, I hope to be able to highlight the amazing things they have done to date and what they will be able to offer for the future.

Oli Henshall

Wales | Architectural Technologist

How could you say ‘no’ to being an ambassador for this amazing Charity? I am in awe of the work and support the ABS can provide to our diverse and exciting wider architectural ‘family’. I want to spread the word, and help ABS make a difference.

I am currently the Chair for CIAT AspirATion ‘Wales’ and a Technical Associate for Powell Dobson Architects in Cardiff.

The construction industry is a truly inspiring, challenging and rewarding sector to work within. However, it can also be very stressful, life encompassing and lonely when things aren’t working out as planned. We train, mentor and develop our people to be the best ‘designers’ they can be, but have been guilty in the past of neglecting the ‘person’ behind the pencil. A great building is nothing, if the hearts and minds behind the bricks and mortar are the cost. It doesn’t have to be this way, and I believe the ABS can be the difference.

Read Oli’s Blog Posts

Peter Watkins

London | Architect

Being asked to be an Ambassador for the Architects Benevolent Society is a tremendous honour as I have witnessed at close hand the difference the Society makes in lives of the people and families they support.

The Construction industry is often seen as a barometer for the economy and this can place the members of our profession in challenging circumstances, especially within the current turbulent climate.

Through Pollard Thomas Edwards’s work organising the Society’s annual Chicken Run in 2015 and 2016, I saw the dedication and commitment of its members of staff.  My role as an ABS Ambassador gives me the opportunity to spread the word of this tireless work to a greater audience to ensure that the help they give can continue for all future generations of architects and technicians.

I am also an Associate at Pollard Thomas Edwards, a member of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects and RIBA North London Steering Group. It is through these memberships that I hope to broaden the Society’s reach to the architectural student population and members of the profession.

Priya Aiyer

East of England | Architect

Having used the ABS’s services myself to help battle my mental health demons, I have found it incredibly useful and life-changing and want to be able to give something back so that others are aware of what they do. Being an ambassador means a great deal as I realise there is an issue and stigma within the architecture and wider construction industry, with many either not being brave enough to speak about mental health or not getting the support quick enough.

I am pleased to be a Mental Health First Aider in England and I am also a Wellbeing Ambassador at my company, Mace Ltd. I feel that my role as an ABS ambassador ties in with these, and it’s helped to connect with like-minded people who feel that everyone deserves to have a voice. I have begun to spread the word about ABS and I certainly will continue to do so.

Ray Ockenden

North West | Architectural Technologist

I am honored to be an Ambassador to the ABS, it is my opportunity to be able to give back to my profession and others that have experienced mental health problems and face/faced hardship in there lives.

I am a Chartered Architectural Technologist, based in the North West, at Mott Macdonald a worldwide, multidisciplinary company. I am also the current NW aspirATion group chair and work closely with CIAT.

The aspirATion group, part of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, is an initiative aim at the younger generation (students and recent graduates) of upcoming AT professionals. I am proud that ABS offer support to students on what can be a highly stressful program and I can ensure the North West Region of aspirATion will do the part to raise awareness and educate on ABS and what they offer.

I myself suffered from the effects of mental illness and unfortunately at the time, did not know anything about ABS. As soon as I heard about the charity I knew I could not say no to representing them. There are so many people that keep their head down about suffering with a problem and don’t want to speak up and get help. I want to be able to help people have the confidence and the chance to become known and get the support they need.

The construction industry can be a very high pressure/stressful environment to be in and companies often forget the person behind the screen, creating the work and do not think about (or see) what is happening with the person and their life and wellbeing.

I am looking forward to working with ABS and helping spread the message that help is there and all you need to do is ask.

Rick McCluggage

Scotland | Architect

I am delighted to be helping the Architects Benevolent Society in my new role as an Ambassador. Alongside my fellow Ambassadors in Scotland we promote the support ABS can offer to people working in the architectural profession and their families in times of difficulty.

I am an Architect and Director of Smith Scott Mullan Associates based in Edinburgh. My Practice didn’t know anything about ABS so I attended the launch of the #AnxietyArch Mental Health Awareness campaign in Edinburgh and was really pleased to meet the team and learn more. After sharing the information gathered with my colleagues, I decided that I could help more by being an Ambassador and I am busy visiting other Practices in Scotland to help spread the word.

Read Rick’s Blog Posts

Rori Millar

Northern Ireland | Architectural Technologist

It is an absolute privilege to be associated with the Architects Benevolent Society family and an immense honour to be able to call myself an ambassador. I am the current overarching chair for CIAT’s aspirATion group and sit on CIAT Northern Ireland’s regional committee.

CIAT’s aspirATion group is an initiative that is aimed at recently graduated Architectural Technology professionals as well as current students and encourage engagement within the institute while in their formative years of the discipline. I am immensely proud that ABS offer support to students and can assure that aspirATion will do our part to raise awareness and educate.

I first became aware of ABS and their wonderful work when our regional committee decided to raise awareness for a charitable cause by running the Belfast marathon, I was asked if I would like to take part and after learning a bit more about ABS I could not say no! In our industry the demands on individuals can seem endless and overbearing, the old motto of “keep calm and carry on” seems to be a given. It’s important that people realise that are groups like ABS out there that can maybe give a helping hand which can unfortunately seem so out of reach when people are at their lowest.

Rosa Turner-Wood

Yorkshire and the Humber | Architectural Assistant

I first gained knowledge of the Architects Benevolent Society when they hosted an event at the Sheffield School of Architecture, in collaboration with the RIBA, that sought to raise awareness of mental wellbeing among architecture students. Since this event I have used their services to deal with my own anxiety and have been incredibly impressed with the support ABS staff offer, and the pace in which I was offered appropriate mental health provision. I believe the intensity of the profession often neglects the mental health of its practitioners – without the work of ABS I know many within the profession would be suffering.

As an ambassador I hope to further promote the work of the charity, from its mental health support, through to their financial advice and assistance. I am truly excited to work in partnership with the ABS in the future!

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Sam Shaw

Scotland | Landscape architect

My contribution as an ambassador is to bring change amongst my profession and let my contemporaries know that there’s a great support network available through the ABS. Even within my office, my colleagues were unaware of the ABS’s role and how they can help Landscape Professionals in times of need.

I’m a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute, working in private practice at Ian White Associates Landscape Architects in Stirling, Scotland. It’s essential that Landscape Architects work collectively with Architects and Architectural Technologists to help support struggling colleagues during challenging periods of their lives. My role as an ABS ambassador will be to raise awareness and increase the reach of the ABS amongst Landscape Professionals.

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Scott McAulay

Scotland | Architectural Assistant

It was an honour to be asked to come aboard as an ambassador for the ABS after writing a piece for the Architect’s Journal on architecture student mental well-being – the stigmas surrounding mental health issues and the normalisation of suffering in architecture – in response to the results of their 2018 Student Survey. As a final year Masters student, I have experienced these ongoing issues first-hand, and I am unashamedly one of the one-in-three students of architecture who are currently receiving or have received support for their mental well-being in the past.

These experiences have given me both insight and motivation to embrace this role with the intention to destigmatise the conversation surrounding mental health in our schools of architecture and beyond. Knowing that working cultures picked up in the design studio in university can be carried onward into practise it is critical to make healthy ones a norm and to open a dialogue between staff and students regarding this.

I hope to leave architectural education in a more compassionate state than I found it; to hopefully inspire students to follow me to normalise positive studio cultures so that talking about mental health and asking for help can cease to be a taboo.

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Simeon Shtebunaev

West Midlands | Researcher

I first got involved with the Society regarding the work that they were piloting to raise awareness about mental health and develop a support network. The dedication of the team, their expertise and genuine passion to better the lives of others struck me as exceptional and motivated me to become more engaged.

The collaboration with Anxiety UK that the Society has developed is an incredible resource to all the architectural community. Their commitment to interdisciplinary support and ambitions to help as many people as possible, including early career professionals, are admirable.
I am currently a Doctoral Researcher in Urban Planning at Birmingham City University, Student Representative on the RIBA National Council and co-Vice-President of the RIBA for Students and Associates. I am passionate to support young people in any stage of their development and to signpost them to organisations such as the Society that can help their development.

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Sophie Gunertane

London | Architectural Assistant

I am extremely proud to represent the Architect’s Benevolent Society and help to raise awareness of mental illness and how the ABS can help those suffering within the Architectural community.

I am currently a Part 1 Architectural Assistant at Sonnemann Toon Architects and will be starting my Part 2 Masters at the University of Westminster in September 2019.  I, like so many other students, experienced a period of ill mental health during my undergraduate degree and wasn’t aware of the options and support available to me. For this reason, I feel extremely passionate about encouraging an open conversation, within universities and the workplace, about mental health and raising awareness of the links that ABS have with Anxiety UK and the therapy that they can provide.

I have met so many wonderfully passionate people through volunteering for ABS and have been really inspired by the success of the Anxiety Arch campaign and their growth over the last year. Volunteering as an ambassador is really rewarding and I hope to continue to support the architectural profession through this role and my educational and professional networks.

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Stephen Drew

Associate Director at Macdonald & Company, RIBA Associate

London | Architect

Architects come from all walks of life and have overcome obstacles along the way. It is a very hard journey along the path of Architecture. I have been there as a student, 3am with no sleep and the printer is jammed. Stressful? Yes! Memories of trying to enter the job market as a Part I with no experience during recession. Worrying? Definitely. The thrill of your first job in industry? Amazing!

Working in architecture has its ups and downs.  We all love the industry for different reasons, however whether it is external events or problems within practice sometimes it can feel like the odds are against you and leave you feeling an anxious. Sometimes we all need a little help or would like the support of someone else who is familiar with the industry, even if it is just someone to talk to. That’s what I love about the ABS and how they help the industry.

My experience in Architectural practice and Architecture Recruitment has given me an insight to both internal and external factors which can influence the quality of life for an Architect, I am thrilled to be an Ambassador for the ABS and part of the collaborative effort to promote the wellbeing of Architects, Assistants, Technologists, Landscape Architects and their families, in times of need.

Tom Gray

South East | Architectural Technologist

I am delighted to be part of the wider architectural profession by supporting ABS as an ambassador. The charity is phenomenal and its an honour to be part of this growing family, it goes to show your never alone.

As a Senior Chartered Architectural Technologist and Building Engineer, working for a Chartered RIBA practice in Kent, I am very much aware of the pressures that come with our industry and of course the additional challenges of daily life. Having experienced stress and anxiety during my career resulting in time off from work, I am acutely aware of the support this charity provides and how there is no shame in seeking help and support. Following my own mental health experience, I made a conscious decision to speak up and where I can help others. This resulted in me becoming a certified mental health first aider and joining the CIAT Equality and Diversity Taskforce. I am determined to contribute positively to promoting safe and supportive communities for all our industry professionals.

Yemi Aladerun

London | Architect

One of my life mottos is to ‘Give without expectation!’ The team at ABS do exactly that, they are a group of dedicated people providing a vital lifeline for past and present members of the wider architectural profession and their families in times of need.

I am delighted to join the Society as one of its London Ambassadors and I look forward to raising greater awareness of this AWESOME charity and the great work it does throughout the UK.

I am an Architect and a newly elected member of RIBA National Council. I am dedicated to education, mentoring and helping others to achieve their dreams within the construction industry and beyond. I mentor for the Social mobility Foundation, The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and Fluid Diversity Mentoring Programme.

Remember: “It’s not the load you carry, but how you carry it” ABS is here to help!

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