Stephen Fisher-Ambassador-Apr 2024

Stephen Fisher

North West | Architect

I discovered the Architects Benevolent Society through another Ambassador which emphasises the importance of the Ambassador programme in raising awareness across the industry. I approached ABS for their support and services for my own mental health. I felt extremely fortunate to have access to their services and conscious that this is not always the case beyond our industry. ABS can profoundly improve people’s situations if those that are experiencing challenging times. I am determined to help fundraise for ABS and extend their outreach by promoting their wonderful work and services to as many people as I can.

The pressures in the architectural profession have the potential to sideline mental health across a range of workplaces, and an even greater reduction in visibility for those in smaller workplaces. As a qualified architect in a small startup practice I am passionate that all workplaces across the UK should have the same awareness and access to services across the board.

ABS offers a vital range of services to those in our industry and those associated with them. I am keen to do my best to help raise awareness of their invaluable services and encourage people to be open and transparent in seeking out support.

Mária Miličková

North West |

I am an Urban Designer originally from Slovakia currently working in the North-West of UK.

It is exciting to become an Ambassador for ABS, as I have my personal journey with anxiety and stress and I strongly believe that everyone should have access to resources that support mental health wellbeing, especially in an industry that can create a lot of pressure, like the built environment. As an Ambassador I would like to use my platform to help spread awareness and provide support to my colleagues and anyone who needs it.

Jason Boyle Image March 2023

Jason Boyle

North West | Architect

Architects Benevolent Society supports the architectural profession and without this society, professionals would suffer more than they are now. I am really pleased to be one of their Ambassadors to help spread the word through my podcast, “The Broke Architect”.The podcast was created to give a voice to architects talking about their struggles within the profession with issues of low pay, debt and a culture of long working hours. In 2018 I became the youngest Fellow of the RIBA and as a way of helping the profession I have spent the last 4 years mentoring architects, I feel I have a really good perspective on the current state of the profession. The podcast is also a vehicle for fundraising for the ABS, focusing on raising awareness around health and well-being and any money raised will support the great work that ABS provide.

As professionals, we never know what is around the corner and may need the support of the ABS at any point in our career, which is why I’m proud to be an ABS ambassador.

Jason has kindly set up a JustGiving page.

Veronica Melek

North West | Students

Hi! My name is Veronica, I am studying to become a chartered Architect. I am a Linguist, I’ve studied languages, obtaining a language degree and fine arts in Rome, Italy and can speak fluently 5 languages: Arabic, English, Italian, Spanish and French.
Before, getting into Salford, I’ve worked extremely hard to achieve D*D*D* (Triple Star Distinctions) at College here in the UK. I came to the UK to pursue my education in architecture and progress in academia. My family comes from a low socio-economic background, we are Egyptian/Italians; and my people represent the minority back home.

I’ve brought my knowledge and awareness of different cultural traditions and cultural history and variety of different cultural cuisines, being mixed Egyptian/Italian and my languages set of skills which has helped me communicate with variety of different people of different society here in the student union.
I’ve also brought my knowledge and love of music, photography, philosophy, fine arts and martial arts to the event. (love for cultures)
I’ve engaged in different competitions and hackathons to enrich my concept development and IT Skills.

Currently, I am a Student Ambassador and Volunteer Ambassador at the University of Salford, I am also the Vice-Chair of SSSA (Salford student Society of Architects). As a confident, patient and friendly individual, I work with students as a mentor for my undergrad students who I mentor on a weekly base. I’ve been providing good advice and guide my mentees into better qualification results if they need clarity or help in achieving their goals.

I’ve also volunteered with children; supervising on different trips and arranging play days.
Fostering a love of learning at an early stage can help students overcome learning barriers that they face. I have a real passion for providing students with the opportunities they need in order to flourish academically and personally. Being the eldest of three, I have grown a desire to enable students to reach their potential at the pace that they are comfortable with, whilst also providing them a safe space to aim higher.

I have been a confidant and a safety net support to many of my students over the years; mentoring them has been the most rewarding experience in my life.

Within the community, I’ve been a regular volunteer with homeless kitchens in Stockport and Oldham. I am a volunteer to Manchester Pride and a committee member, I have been helping the local community with gardening. I am also a volunteer with an organisation called W.E.L Safe to help young people with Mental Health needs and different addictions.

As an Ambassador for ABS, I want to support others finding their voice. I want to support the community to speak up and I want to support them by listening and by providing creative individuals with a space they feel secure, safe to be their authentic selves and be transparent.

Asim Hanif

North West | Architectural Assistant

Asim Hanif is an Architectural Assistant at Jacobs Engineering UK. He studied at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at the Manchester School of Architecture, and has previously worked at Canadian firm IBI Group on specialist healthcare masterplans, comprising of community services, hospitals and medical research facilities. He takes particular interests in exploring methods to create resilient, technologically-advanced urban environments and has promoted the use of AI and biomimetics throughout his work in academia and practice.

He says, “Without a doubt, the rewarding part of practicing in the field of Architecture is to see the impact our work is having on real communities, but this shouldn’t mean that we stop looking out for our own community. In most cases, it isn’t easy to spot (or accept) the signs that you or someone around you may be struggling, and needs to get support. There are many personal and professional factors within the realm of Architecture which can affect employment, physical/mental wellbeing and financial stability. By supporting the work of the ABS, I hope to advocate for healthier home and working environments, and raise awareness that it’s common to get help. The ABS has a number of excellent partnerships that are readily available to support the Architecture community in various ways – we just need to reach out to them!”

Andrew Jarman

North West | Architect

In 2019, a few months after qualifying as an Architect I had a mental health crisis. I had been struggling with a number of things for a while, and my early career was a contributory factor. After realising that I needed help, I got in touch with ABS and soon started a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy courtesy of ABS, delivered through their partnership with Anxiety UK. The CBT and the support I received had a transformative effect and continues to be impactful on my daily life. That is why I became an ambassador for the ABS.

I am now a Project Architect working in the North West and an accredited Mental Health First Aider. Helping raise awareness of the ABS and what it can do for you is really important for me because without the ABS I don’t know where I would be. If I help one person avoid the struggles I went through, it’s all worth it.

People Illustration

Ray Ockenden

North West | Architectural Technologist

I am honoured 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.

Abigail Patel

North West | Architect

Abigail is an Architect currently working within the residential team at Buttress Architects, she joined the team in 2019 after graduating with a Distinction in her Masters of Architecture from the University of Manchester.

A keen advocate for the profession, Abigail has been involved with the RIBA since 2015 and has previously held roles on the RIBA National Council as Student Representative (2017-2019) and Co-Vice President of Students and Associates (2019), she maintains a role working within the RIBA Education Development Group involving assessing bursary applications for various funds.

Abigail has recently joined the teaching staff at The Manchester School of Architecture to tutor Masters students within atelier PRAXXIS on a weekly basis. Abigail is interested in researching and writing around the topic of the gender gap in the architectural industry and discussions this brings about equality, diversity and inclusion. Since beginning her journey as an architecture student, Abigail has also been particularly interested in discussing and researching around the topic of mental health and wellbeing within the industry; a passion that is supported by her role as ambassador for the Architects Benevolent Society, a charity dedicated to those working within the profession.

In 2019, she was named on the Northern Power Women’s Future List. The Future List recognises the influencers and change makers of the future who are already making a difference in their environment and communities.

She says, “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.”


Read Abigail’s Blog Posts

Emily Green

North West | Architect

I am an Architect based in the North West. I have been an Ambassador for around 3 years – 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!

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