Architects Benevolent Society – https://www.absnet.org.uk/
In this week’s Spotlight I was lucky enough to have a chat with Tom Shore who is support relations at a charity called the Architects Benevolent Society, a great organisation who help hundreds of Architectural professionals within our community.
Transcription (using Otter.ai)
Transcription (Raw Text)
Stephen Drew 0:00
Hi everybody, I am Stephen Drew head of architecture at McDonald company and I am joined here by Tom shore, Tom. Hi, how are you? Good. Thanks, Drew. How’s it going? All right, I’m living living the COVID dream. So Tom, we know each other from the abs, the architectural benevolent society and amazing charity. Perhaps maybe two people on LinkedIn are listening to this for the first time. We’re not familiar for the charity, and the awesome stuff you do. Maybe you can introduce yourself and what you guys get up to?
Tom Shore 0:33
Yeah, sure. Yeah, I think I thank you so much for having me on. Really appreciate it. No problem. Basically, we’re a charity that’s we’ve been around for a long time. So 170 a year of being a charity in the UK, in September, so anniversary, that long door town, right. Not quite not quite me personally, as an institution. And yeah, and we our remit is that we help those in need within the profession. So and their families, I think it’s really important to highlight that as well. So I’m really hoping that anyone listening, you are hoping that you’ve heard of us already, but if you haven’t, we, we can step in, and like many different circumstances, I guess it’s it’s, it’s set up originally, kind of before we had welfare. And since then, we really bridge that gap where sometimes the government can’t help or you might be in a situation you hadn’t planned for, and might need kind of support and many different ways. One way might be financial. So we do have like, and, and, and, and financial support, but also mental health support, or we listen and talk and try our best to be there. For the unexpected, we have a welfare team. So if you called us or around us, you get free to them. And they have both two welfare officers, both background and a social work and a welfare assistant. And they give, you know, really, really good and helpful advice. And then and then support from that. We do have eligibility criteria. So what we need to get the full support is having one year experience working within the architectural profession, within the UK, as soon as that is the case, you’re completely eligible for our support, I would say as well that we do have a student offer, because we really recognised how important it was to help students especially in the way we can during their studies, with mental health support. So if you are a student listening to this, and you need fulfil, you might need some kind of mental health support, we are able to give you one year membership to anxiety UK, which would give you access to email support. Also certain apps like the headspace app, and a few other kind of supports like that. Yeah, that’s a kind of a quick summary. But I’m sure we can talk more about what the ABS does along the way. And then and also your role on how you’ve been really helpful to us and, and ambassadors like yourself in helping the charity. Yeah, I
Stephen Drew 3:17
mean, I was familiar with the ABS from pre COVID era, remember getting the chicken seal running around London member then happy days without the
Tom Shore 3:31
humans that was sounds like a very long time ago. But yes, no. Yeah, do that in the London based chicken run. I think that don’t ask me where that came from even our chief exec who has been there not since 170 years, but has been there about 19 years now. And he doesn’t quite know the origin of why people dress and chickens. But yeah, great day, we’re kind of a fun run. good bit of fundraising for us and and kind of getting everyone together at the barbecue and the celebration afterwards. And yeah, the illusion of some kind of physical activity of running, although there are some people who are very fast.
Stephen Drew 4:03
It’s quite a lot of work. I think I’m always near the end. There’s not much work. I’m always the one our profit at the end of it. And I think so for me, I didn’t I wasn’t familiar with a charity At first, I found that for the chicken run. And then what I love is that it’s, it’s such a great cause. And there’s been a few themes that happen. So if we were to four years ago, there was a big focus on mental health, which was a big deal because architecture can be sometimes there’s long hours, it can be a stressful role. It ruins days for a long period of time. And so that aspect of what ABS does, it’s absolutely fantastic. And then at the time, the mental health was was so were well regarded and so successful. Well, what’s interesting, and especially now in COVID is in particular is as you touched upon, there’s a lot of well being and even financial support. What do you guys do to architects, technologists and people that work within? Which is amazing. So say no, even right now, with redundancies or anything like that happening COVID? Yeah, that part of what you do is you get involved. People can get in touch, they can talk about the stresses that are going on, they can talk about financial difficulties that they’re in, or even family difficulties and where possible, you’ll try to help out. Yeah, she’s awesome.
Tom Shore 5:28
Yeah, we have. What’s quite unique, I say about I’ve worked with a few different charities, but working the ABS is that we have so partnerships have a lot of other different organisations and charities that will give you the person are beneficiaries who might need support, access to expert advice. So they might remember that’s about debt advice, whether that’s kind of like, say, for instance, you might need specialist physical therapy, advice, or shelter is another one of the partners if you need, like, homeless or going through, like, kind of unsure about your housing situation. Yeah, we have access through our partnerships of these really expert organisations that can give us because I mean, our back, can we have access to social workers who, who do know a lot, I know a lot about specifically helping people who come from your architecture or the wider architecture family, but then they can also go to these other great resources and really put people in touch with the right people and really help. Yes. And yeah, since since COVID, we’ve been a really challenging time for us, like many charities say, it’s
Stephen Drew 6:34
just a quiet time for you.
Tom Shore 6:38
I think I think, you know, I talked to other ambassadors and my role, I work with a lot of volunteer programme Ambassador programme, and they kind of like my eyes and ears a lot within the field, not coming from an architectural background myself. But I know I can feel that there’s a sense of, of worry, even now coming up for the next couple of months, especially with the end of life or the furlough scheme and, and redundancies in the, in the foreground, I think of a lot of people’s on the back of their head. So I’d like to say, you know, we have you go to our website, we have resources about redundancy, support, and strategies and and different useful links, but as well as that, please get in contact with us. I’m sure there’ll be somewhere in the link. There might be some like details that we can put out of our support. Yeah, but But yeah, we have ring us or an email us. And we’ll try our best to help.
Stephen Drew 7:29
Yeah, I love it. And so there’s probably worth mentioning, because there’s a there’s a few there’s a few aspects of the charity, which is awesome. Yeah. So we’re talking about if you’re someone currently in needs, are you in a bit of a stressful time? They can obviously get in touch, we’ll put the links which is ABS net.org. The UK so right. Yes, yeah, yeah, we’ll put that down below. People can get in touch that way, or make sure that we list those associated with the other thing is probably worth mentioning is the ambassador scheme. Yeah. Which is because I’m an ambassador sounds quite nice. sounds quite royal. Sounds like royalty from South Wales and come a long way. Right. But the the ambassador scheme is probably really interesting, because the essence of the scheme, and this is my interpretation is, it’s really nice to help out. And what I like is that everyone can do as much or as little as they feel comfortable with. And it’s really nice scheme that scenario. essence, being an ambassador for the abs. I, for instance, I tried to do this promote the word and kind of add that aspect. But there’s so many different ambassadors that are involved to raise funds for the charity, they raise awareness, they come up with ideas that come up with events you have, like the amazing people from Paris, Thomas Edwards. And the bit I also like about the ambassador scheme, as well as helping out on the chicken run by holding a sign that runs around London, you get to meet other really smart, intelligent architectural professionals who really want to help. So how many ambassadors are there right now? Is it like,
Tom Shore 9:19
over seven over 70? Now I’ve been growing for strength and strength. I mean, I use the help you to to us, you really are royalty. I think we my predecessor Mark was one he first started the programme about comments about three and a half years ago, four years ago now. And I’ve taken over since but at the beginning, which is Yeah, there’s like we had like a, we’ll do like fundraising or kind of like initiatives, and we had a group of people who would just naturally help us. I think Mark really saw that, Oh, well, let’s kind of make make a thing of this and actually make price support these people better. And that’s what it grew out originally. And now it’s turned into this really great programme of like, regional network of over 70 people who are kind of drawn together by once of helping the IDs and helping help other architects and other architectural technologists and, and landscape architects and their families throughout the UK. So yeah, as you said, they do a lot of fundraising for us. And it’s really important, the moment really helps us as we are, you know, giving out more and more support, and to that help is really needed. But more than that, it started really about raising awareness. I think. Since I didn’t come to the role, I think it’s, um, we definitely I do these talks, and I go to universities, and I go to practices and we kind of, you know, talk about what will the kind of way I’m speaking to you now, about what the ABS is, and I think before, for about four years ago, you’d go there and maybe like, one person might have heard of you, or, or nobody’s really heard of you, or you have a couple, but now it’s people are, it feels like people know more about us. And that is, I would say completely down to ambassadors and going out to we’re a small charity, and none of us work in, like architecture. But our ambassadors are all in that world going to different regional meetings talking about us. And when it’s appropriate, you know, they might do a presentation and they might like, oh, by the way, you know, if you ever need support this charity, they help our profession, which is really useful for us, because otherwise, how are people going to know? And yeah, so no, I have nothing but I mean, I got to be biassed, it’s my job to manage the programme, but they are the best thing I think about the charity and then people like yourself and really go above and beyond to really help and it’s really quite rewarding to see that and I’m very appreciative. Thank you.
Stephen Drew 11:46
Well, this is what I was going out. So to anyone in theory can be an ambassador comes down to them. And that’s and that’s it would be interesting to see if anyone reaches out after this. Anyone who’s thinking to get involved as an ambassador. I mean, I really enjoy it. So even this year, right, we all went to work again, this is just before Coronavirus kicked in as they once a year where everyone’s socialises. They go together. We talk about the charity we talk about what everyone’s been up to in this kind of a fun day. You have your few cheeky nibbles, you know you have a little drink, and we even went up to the bar and weeks we were lucky enough to go in we were in Squires and partners, amazing office, and they kind of got that cool. You can have a drink on the balcony, the members. Beautiful. It was really nice. Yeah. And there’s stuff like this, that wouldn’t happen if you if you don’t put yourself out there. And and I guess that’s one of the things that I really like about the charity is because I, of course I wanted to get involved. And I was a part two. And it was sometimes the long hours can be really stressful. And I was not aware of this charity before. So spreading awareness is great. But actually being involved is fun. And the reason I say that is because I’ve done a few things before it Manchester University, if you’re listening, I absolutely love the university. And I I wasn’t a very good social coordinator at the time because I was a steering that was unfollows doing my work. And I was not the best coordinator. So I remember when I was becoming an ambassador, I met Mark if you’ve not is such a funny character. I remember going oh no, or what, or if I commit to be in the ambassador and I don’t live up to the potential. This is what’s so awesome about it. Everyone contributes in their own weird and wonderful way. I kind of like the way we’re doing this, this podcast now is organically popped up. And to me, it’s fun. I hey, we’re spreading awareness to this charity. And the point is it changes people’s lives. And what I like is that you’ve got all different types of amazing charities, it’s really nice that there is a charity focus for people who work within the architectural profession. And I like that and it’s really great to hear the success stories. It’s really great to hear from people that maybe you bring it up and it can be very from life changing support when, for instance, an accident happens in the family or you and you guys get involved and really help out or it can be even a little thing of someone’s stressed and when they have anxiety because right now is not a fun situation. You know, we’ll have a joke that we’re all doing zoom in our trousers and we’ll have a we have no pairs of trousers right now and we’re all kind of you know, we’re having a giggle, but actually Coronavirus is really stressful. I find it quite stressful because when the actual market crashed at first in March or April, I was on furlough and it’s tough like having you guys there or point to call.
Tom Shore 14:58
Yeah makes a big difference. Yeah. I mean, just over over the COVID period, so we’ve given out, since the start of COVID, I think we’ve given over 370,000 75,000 pounds of financial support. And that’s really going a long way towards like, you know, that that month where you can’t get on to the unemployment benefit, and you need to pay your rent, or Yeah, just kind of bridging the gap, a lot of it can be it can be just, you know, short term support for a couple of months, while you can’t meet the mortgage for the and we try to work out solutions to help help. And really, try stop it for everyone, you know, for all comes falling down and really try to then support so if anyone’s listening, I would really encourage you to reach out to us and let’s have a conversation. And we can try and get get give some form of support. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I love it.
Stephen Drew 15:55
I think I think it’s such a great cause in that way. And what’s interesting, so even for you, for you, Tom, you’ve seen the massive change as well. So, so back in March, before remember the world was good in February, right and then, okay, and what’s been interesting is that so the architectural benevolence site, you always have such a good calendar of events, right? And to chicken run, I, we were all looking forward to it. And when we had to, we all had to adapt and you guys have to adapt is that you’re raising awareness, and you’re raising funds for charity to give. Yeah, all kind of goes back to people. The thing is, though, if we were all we were all in markdown, so it’s been quite a stressful time for you guys as well isn’t there and some good stuffs come out of it and just writing
Tom Shore 16:46
a lot of adapting I’ve done a lot of online events, which has been it’s been interesting I’ve kind of embraced it now. But yeah, definitely the beginning it was a strange concert we’re not doing instead of the chicken I think we did the cooped up chicken run which I think got a really good reception and people enjoyed it was like a lot of indoor physical activities which maybe not is everybody’s cup of tea but yeah, it was fun and it was you know, a lot of like, silly kind of content put on on Twitter on on social media, which which was fun and really helped us again, raise awareness because you know, you people will see that like why is someone doing 100 star jumps or press ups or something like that in a video that upon online and they see what it’s for and then see that the money is going towards and then you know, that really helps us but we’ve also done with the online and quiz the shore like everyone’s sick to death for them but there was there were some really great speakers we had Jane Duncan came and Adam white from the landscape and shoot at the forum president Edie weird who’s the CIT president as well so really got behind us and it was a very fun evening so we can’t actually want to do that again near the end of the year tried to another kind of Christmasy themed quiz and I guess where we are at but that’s that’s on the cards and the next one March at the big drawing competition. So it’s good time to sketch happening next month 24th of September, and it’s kind of like yeah, asking people to sign up and take an hour out of their day to do a drawing. You’re given given a select amount of time to kind of complete it by and then you’re kind of submit it to us and then we have like a judge panel who will who will judge and see who the winner is and we normally make a kind of sketchbook out of it like a colouring book. Yeah, show
Stephen Drew 18:34
you show you on my sketch. I’m sure it’ll be useful. I can’t wait for it. I think you’re gonna you’re gonna have it in the book you’re gonna get paid well make the top 20 to get into the sketch
books in the the top one and then I can be in like
Tom Shore 19:00
Yeah, no, it was really good last year was our first year of doing it. So I think it’s actually really good one for like a lockdown period where you’re inside anyway get get your family involved if they’re if they’re up for a bit of a draw. And then of course all the all the proceeds go towards supporting supporting our work so what’s not to love really, but yeah,
Stephen Drew 19:21
I love it. Are you gonna be doing a sketch?
Tom Shore 19:24
I think I’ve got to be impartial. I think I’m going to be doing the running behind the scenes so I’m good. I might want to try and get it get them going. But like I did in the for the Kuta run. I don’t Yeah, I won’t actually partake. I don’t think
Stephen Drew 19:42
you could do like a sanction for the best Ambassador sketch. Yeah, yeah, definitely. I love it. So so for anyone listening again. So if you are currently in a bit of a stressful situation or you know, anyone is stressful situation, then definitely do get in touch the ABS and also spreading awareness is really helpful. Yeah. And if you want to get involved, the ambassador scheme is open to everyone. That’s correct, right? Yeah,
Tom Shore 20:12
it is, I think, just because it’s just me who manages it. I do. 70 is a lot of people. And I try really to put my heart into following and staying up to date with everybody. So I’m still looking for people but more in key regions. Basically, I have a lot of people in London, I’m still would love to hear from you. So I’m definitely not turning anyone away. But I just, I have London very represented by people. But other regions, especially like the southeast, kind of West Midlands or up not going up further north. Yeah, but still, I’d love to hear from you. And I try my best if not, if, and other ways to help the charity to this Ambassador programmes a bit more formal and a bit more of a commitment, just to be asked, although I am very like, like, like strew said this at some flexibility and like, people help in different ways. We still ask kind of like a regular keeping day, have conversations with me every now and then maybe do a bit fundraising and all that kind of stuff. But if you’re we have other people who just kind of chip in for certain events and like there might be very into the chicken room, for instance. So they come and help us as a marshal on the day or otherwise, too. But ya know, please reach out. My email is Tom dot Shaw, sh o ra at abs. net. UK, and but you can find on our website, which will control there’ll be a link for as well. Yeah,
Stephen Drew 21:39
amazing. And important questions. Do we have a Welsh Ambassador?
Tom Shore 21:44
We have few. Yeah, we’ve got we have a few I’ve got note we’ve got. I was atrocious in the names. But yeah, no, we do we do. Yeah, we’ve got mainly around Cardiff. So be good to get some going further further north Wales. So let’s get some representation up there. But, ya know, we’ve got I’ve got four Welsh ambassadors, I think.
Stephen Drew 22:04
And I’m technically Welsh, right, even though I might have been in it for a long time. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No. Four and a bit was from basketball. Yeah. I love it. I love it. So it’s so that’s really helpful and really good. To give a bit of an insight to everyone. So anyone listening, architecture benevolent society? Amazing charity, definitely check them out on the website, which is what Tom?
Tom Shore 22:35
It’s abs. net. Hold up. Sorry. Yeah, I always err on so yeah, it’s abs.org.uk. So ad is abs. Probably should probably have that one. Yeah.
Stephen Drew 23:02
Architects benevolent society? Yeah. So look, society. Great.
Tom Shore 23:09
And I think great resources there as well. As well as a lot of the lesson stories and a lot of people we’ve helped give you like a bigger picture of kind of scope in support as well.
Stephen Drew 23:22
There’s a website coming soon as well, isn’t.
Tom Shore 23:24
There is we’re in the process of when it does need a little bit of an update. So yeah, we that will come soon. That should be the same address. But yeah, well, we’ll do an update and make it better. Oh, you
Stephen Drew 23:35
can put you can put my you can put my sketch on the website. thing, then that might be a bit of a downgrade now and upgrade, right. Well, I
Tom Shore 23:46
don’t know. I mean, I I have all put faith in you drew that you’re the artists inside you, Milan for us
Stephen Drew 23:55
to look hard for that. But in the meantime, while you’re looking for the artist in me, check out the Arctic’s beneva. Thank you so much, Tom, for giving me appreciate it. Yeah, I’ve had a lot of fun with this. And we’ll go back to being on the online digital COVID world if you’re stressed out, or you want to get involved with the Arctic’s when I was saying check them out online. I will put a link there or you can reach Tom even on LinkedIn as well. Thank you so much. Thank you