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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
ABS Ambassador Aisling Jarrett Gavin

Aisling Jarrett-Gavin

Studio Coordinator

London |

Life can be tough; we can be faced with situations that make things seem impossible to get through. The support that ABS offer is incredible. Being able to reach out to a charity who can offer so much help both emotionally and financially can be a lifeline.

I was thrilled to hear that ABS also supports creative support staff within a practice, as being recognised as core part of the Architectural profession means allot to those who work within these supporting roles.

Having had periods in my life when I have suffered with my own mental health, I understand how important this charity is. I have witnessed first-hand the positive affect’s ABS has had on some of my colleagues. I am thrilled to be able to help the charity in whatever way I can.

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Aled Rees

Wales | Architectural Technologist

Aled Rees is an Associate Director with over 15 years’ experience successfully developing and leading a range of project from domestic, commercial, social housing and healthcare, becoming a Chartered Architectural Technologist in 2016. He is currently the resident Chair of the Wales Region for CIAT and undertakes mentoring of future applicants and undertakes Professional Interviews as part of the Chartered application process. He also visits universities speaking to students about being in practice. He is looking forward to providing his support for ABS and moving them forward in the future.

Alexia Michael

London | Architect

Alexia Michael is an Architect at BarrGazetas. She studied at University of Westminster, and previously worked with Squire & Partners on prestigious new build masterplan projects, including the new mixed-use development ‘The Broadway’ in Victoria SW1, London. Since qualifying as an Architect in 2017, Alexia has taken several commercial projects along Regent Street from concept to completion. She is interested in architecture as an experience rather than a pure object of vision and has particular interest in commercial architecture and the re-manifestation of listed buildings. Her design ethos is driven by sustainability and end-user wellbeing. She is a passionate believer in Collaboration amongst trades, and strives to deliver creative and quality driven spaces while implementing refreshing ideas and technologies. She is also an Ambassador for the Architects Benevolent Society and a mentor for the University of Westminster mentoring students since 2017. Other than design, Alexia is passionate about travelling and shoes and has participated in workshops and short-courses at University of the Arts London to evolve her branding, 3D design and footwear design skills.

She says, “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

Trustee

As an Architect I have known of ABS for some time but following an ABS presentation at a local RIBA health and wellbeing event I 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 as 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.

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Ana Souto

East Midlands | Support members

Dr Ana Souto is the Director of Doctoral Programmes and a Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment. Ana plays a key role in the development and leadership of the research modules on undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Architecture. She also supervises PhD and Professional Doctorate candidates in the areas of Architecture, Identity, Heritage and Memory. Ana’s research interest lies in architecture as a cultural manifestation of national identity. Her current research explores the connections between identity, memory and heritage, sense of belonging and ownership of the built environment, using a participatory methodology

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.

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
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Arshya Mittal

Scotland | Architect

I first learnt about Architects Benevolent Society in 2022 as an undergraduate Architecture student at Manchester School of Architecture, and as a member and chair of the Manchester Student Society of Architecture (MSSA). Since then I have wanted to get involved as an ambassador as I feel aligned with the goals and fundamental values of ABS. I found a lot of growth in learning about and how to manage my mental health as a student and wish to be a part of a network that creates resources to help young people navigate this profession, as I myself grow in my career. I am very excited to be an ambassador and look forward to it!

Arysha Mittal

Scotland | Architect

I first learnt about The Architects Benevolent Society in 2022 as an undergraduate Architecture student at Manchester School of Architecture, and as a member and chair of the Manchester Student Society of Architecture (MSSA). Since then I have wanted to get involved as an ambassador as I feel aligned with the goals and fundamental values of ABS. I found a lot of growth in learning about and how to manage my mental health as a student and wish to be a part of a network that creates resources to help young people navigate this profession, as I myself grow in my career. I am very excited to be an ambassador and look forward to it!

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!”

Ben Channon

London | Architect

Ben Channon is an architect, author, TEDx speaker and mental wellbeing advocate, and is well known in the industry as a thought leader in designing for happiness and wellbeing.

He is a Director at wellbeing design consultancy Ekkist, where he helps clients and design teams to create healthier places, and researches how buildings and urban design can impact how we feel. He developed an interest in design for mental health, wellbeing and happiness after suffering with anxiety problems in his mid-twenties. This led him to research the relationship between buildings and happiness, which formed the basis of his first book: ‘Happy by Design’. Ben’s second book ‘The Happy Design Toolkit’ – which offers more practical advice on how to create buildings for our mental wellbeing – was published in March 2022.

Ben now speaks on this subject to businesses and universities around the world. Ben then went on to qualify as WELL Accredited Professional, broadening his knowledge to encompass design for physical wellbeing. In January 2020 he was invited to join the WELL Mind Advisory panel, using his expertise to raise the bar for healthy buildings worldwide.

In 2017 Ben co-founded the Architect’s Mental Wellbeing Forum, which is focused on improving mental health within the industry. He is also an accredited mindfulness practitioner with the Mindfulness Association, and is interested in how buildings can help us to be more mindful and present every day.

“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
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Bryony Dennis

West Midlands | Architect

ABS is a fantastic organisation, which I am delighted to be a part of. I first learned of the organisation during my master’s education and, now as a qualified architect, I am excited to dedicate time to spreading the word, helping run events and supporting their ongoing work.

Throughout my education and career, I have remained passionate about promoting inclusivity and diversity within the architectural industry, and I aim to support and encourage accessibility within the field. I believe financial support, outreach activities and social events are great tools to help towards achieving this.

I believe it is essential for all individuals to receive support for mental health and well-being. I am delighted that ABS is taking practical measures to provide this support within the architectural profession.

I am honoured to be a part of ABS’ work to support and bolster the profession to provide services for those who would benefit from some support.

 

Charlotte Simpson-Munro

South East | Architect

I am an Associate 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

Charlotte Tunney

London |

I represent the Architectural community as a Practice Manager, working for an award-winning, London based architecture studio.

Prior to this, I was the Finance & HR Director for a unique London hospitality offering and have over 10 years’ experience of working with creative businesses. I am also an alumni mentor for fledgling graduates of Nottingham Trent University, providing one on one support as they enter the creative industries.

Through this work I am aware of the pressures placed on individuals as they complete their studies and within the workplace. And having experienced these pressures first hand in recent years, I know how important it is to have access to the right support at the right time.

I am incredibly passionate and excited about the work that ABS does, in particularly its partnerships with Anxiety UK and other organisations, to promote the health, wellbeing and good working practices for those in the industry. And by working in a support role for the profession, I look forward to advocating and supporting fundraising for the charity, not only through my colleagues but our extended network.

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 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.

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!

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

ABS has been doing some amazing work for many years. I am very proud to be one of their Ambassadors and to help spread the word about the support and services they can offer to the architectural community and their families. The running of the ABS mental health support network in partnership with Anxiety UK is such a valuable resource and I will be championing it all the way.

I run my own private practice, and am also actively involved with teaching and mentoring in architecture schools. Helping to host the 2017 ABS chicken run afterparty at Bennetts Associates was enormous fun and worthwhile.

I am looking to dust my running shoes off in 2023 as a participant!

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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 ABS 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.

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Inès Zaid

London | Architect

I strongly believe in the values of the ABS and its mission to supporting the wider profession across the UK. I am an architect, originally from France, having worked and studied in seven countries, I am particularly sensitive to diversity, inclusion and see the benefits of both in our industry that is a bit slow to recognise the talents of this pool despite having a large part of foreigners in its workforce.

I am part of the EDI group at ADP Architecture where I contribute to addressing inclusion (mentoring programme, celebrating diverse experience). I am also a guest researcher at TUDelft where I participate in investigating sustainability (and therefore inclusivity as a part of it) in the Urban realm. I have hugely benefited from great mentors throughout my career and wish to give back to the industry.

As a proactive architect-researcher, I network, liaise, mentor, speak and am very interested in sharing knowledge, information and experiences with people from all walks of life.

 

 

Irina Adam

London | Architect

Architecture is such a wonderful and rewarding field to work in and at the same time it’s full of so many challenges and obstacles. From the high pressure and lengthy route to qualification, to the lack of diversity in the profession and the unhealthy working culture in many offices where overtime and poor work / life boundaries are the norm. I know from my peer group the strain these issues can place on finances and mental health, and also how much of a positive difference the right help at the right time can make on someone’s life.

ABS are a compassionate group of people who are fantastic with the quick interventions – the help they offered me personally via the counselling sessions with Anxiety UK has been so tailored and so impactful that I was incredibly excited for the opportunity to be an ambassador. There is still huge stigma around mental health struggles within the construction industry which prevents so many people from seeking help. I think the work ABS do plays a big role in stopping this vicious cycle and I am keen to reach out to others, to make sure they are not struggling in silence and are aware of the help that is available.

Jack Taylor

London | Architect

I became involved with the ABS after an initial struggle with my mental health at university, and after graduation at work. When a colleague pointed me in the direction of the ABS, I reached out for some support and was able to receive therapy sessions which have been invaluable in helping me understand myself better and develop mechanisms to allow me to progress in my career which I am so grateful for.

Following this, whenever I can, I have tried to talk about ABS at work and with friends whenever I can, as a way of giving back and raising awareness of the charity and the amazing support on offer.

James Brown

South West | Architect

Hi I’m James and I’m a dad, husband, dog-owner and architect. I am the director at a small, award-winning architectural practice that focusses on domestic, small commercial and community projects across North Somerset & the South West. As well as designing lovely places to live, work & play, I also engage with academic institutions at all levels; ranging from STEM/STEAM workshops at primary schools, careers advice and work experience at secondary school & academies, right up to university level where I help and mentor undergrad and masters students.

I have been involved in the architecture industry in some capacity for the best part of 20 years, and throughout both the long-haul of education and then working from micro to global scales, I have witnessed an epidemic of poor mental health. This results in people really suffering with stress, anxiety and depression, which as an industry of highly-skilled, professional problem solvers, always puzzled me as to why this continued to go unaddressed.

In seeking out answers I discovered the ABS, and having witnessed the incredible support they offer to our industry, I endeavoured to be involved in the sharing of the invaluable resources they can provide to both our profession and student cohorts. Being a proud ambassador empowers me to share awareness of the support available, learn and continue to champion the changing attitudes towards mental health, and I’m looking forward to stimulating positive, open conversations with students, academics and professionals, as well as enjoying some social fundraising at every opportunity!

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Jamie Parish

London | Architect

Jamie is an architect working for Howells in London. He completed his master’s degree at the Scott Sutherland School of Architectural and Built Environment and passed his Part 3 qualification in 2023 from the University of Westminster. He was first made aware of the work ABS does through the annual Chicken Run and the opportunities that can be created by the charity.

As an ambassador, he can offer advice and support to the future generation of upcoming architects from his recent experience of the academic process, which can be a challenging and demanding time for students.

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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.

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Joanna Vaughan

London | Architect

Having gone through a series of personal losses throughout my time at university, I was lucky enough to receive the support of several ABS Ambassadors whose contributions no doubt helped me to get through my architecture studies and successfully graduate. I wanted to become an ambassador to continue the amazing work ABS do in the hopes that anyone in this community who is going through a hard time can receive the support to achieve their goals.

Joseph Wilson

Architect

North East | Architect

I am a RIBA chartered architect. I graduated from Newcastle University in 2017, during my time there I was awarded a travel scholarship to undertake research on civic architecture in North America. I have worked on various mixed-use and residential schemes, including delivering large-scale, aged-living residential developments in the UK and abroad. I strive to create architecture with a social conscience, and I feel I share a similar ethos to that of ABS.

I am an individual who wants to grow and develop within the profession and has the insight to instil positive change in the industry, for our people. I want to use my position as an ABS ambassador and use it to contribute to society positively.

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Joshua Hinh

London | Architect

Joshua is an architect working at Eric Parry Architects, after recently completing his Part 3 Qualification at the University of Westminster. He completed his Master’s degree at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, The Glasgow School of Art whilst also spending a semester in Iceland.

Joshua is passionate about engaging with the community and supporting people to achieve their goals, which also see him as a mentor on the Building Future Programme at Blueprint for All, supporting students in architecture in their studies. Furthermore, his passion for engaging with the community has led to him becoming a Local Authority School Governor, in Southwest London helping a school navigate through a masterplan redevelopment. Joshua is also a Community Leader for the charity ONE Campaign which aims to eradicate preventable diseases and extreme poverty by 2030.

He first became aware of ABS’s work through the annual Chicken Run in London, in which he learnt about the remarkable work that ABS do throughout the architecture profession, which has led him to be more engaged with ABS and promote its message throughout the field. As an ABS Ambassador, he aims to promote and support the architectural community particularly fostering and supporting future generations of architects going through their studies and helping broaden the impact of ABS, helping it reach more of the profession and supporting its members.

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Karen Munro

Scotland | Architect

I graduated with BSc (Hons) in Architecture in 2010, then went on to study an MRes and PhD in Architecture. My research interested are in the role of green spaces in built – particularly urban – environments in benefiting mental, physical and social well-being.

I recently took up a post with the Scottish Government as a Principal Research Officer in Health and Social Care and look forward to seeing how my new role gives me fresh insight to my role as ABS Ambassador.

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

Ambassador

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.

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Katya Veleva

London |

Katya is an EMCC Senior Practitioner accredited leadership coach, but their biggest passions are Inclusion, Equity and Diversity. Their work is dedicated to empowering individuals and organisations to find the methods, techniques and language that bring them together in a way that everyone can be their best self at work.

Already an award-winning learning provider and entrepreneur, Katya joined Utopia in 2022, where they are a Change Maker part of the leadership team, working with businesses such as Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Google, Kellogg’s, KP Snacks, Nestlé, Nomura, Spotify and Universal Music.

Katya has a background in architecture and digital construction. Their experience with healthcare design and building information modelling eventually brought out a passion for people and shaped her innate instinct for communication into an effective and poignant tool for collaboration. Katya has supported world-renowned organisations, such as Grimshaw Architects and Alisson Brooks Architects in their endeavours to adopt digital technologies in their design. Faced with training highly skilled professionals in new tools, Katya developed a delicate, yet stimulating approach to drive anyone, regardless of their seniority, to improvement and innovation in their work in a joyful and positive spirit. Within their work for promoting digital adoption and diversity in the construction industry, Katya has shared their experience with and has been recognised by numerous audiences in the UK and abroad, including AU Las Vegas 2018, where they addressed over 500 people and UK Construction Week 2019, where they were named one of top 4 Construction Role Models. Their ability to break down complex concepts and find connections relevant to the listener has proven to truly make an impact.

As a queer immigrant person, Katya has always been naturally drawn toward various social initiatives to promote diversity in the workplace. Those have always been endlessly gratifying, so, like so many amid the Covid Pandemic and global social justice unrest, they paused for a moment of reflection. They delved into coaching and coaching cultures and they reminded them very much of social justice organising and indigenous governing and they knew that they needed to turn away from the buildings – the context, to the contents – people.

Kavita Dhande

West Midlands | Architect

Kavita is an Architect at Corstorphine and Wright Architects and her passion for architecture derives from her love of craft, detailing and creating. She has an avid interest in social responsibility, sustainability and working with young adults and children and architecture. She leads the CSR team at C&W and is an active RIBA Architect’s Ambassador delivering architectural workshop’s for children in schools as well as being involved in architectural and design related family days.

Kavita also currently sits on the Board of the Birmingham Architectural Association and is the social media manager. Having been involved with the BAA since the revival, Kavita is excited to launch a ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ ground and will lead whilst continuing her involvement with Women in Architecture and BCO. Formerly, Kavita has sat on Student Councils for her universities and acted as a Student and Course representative for Architecture as well as co-founding the Northumbria Architecture Society.

 

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.

Marina Konstantopoulou

London | Architect

Marina is an architect working for Hayhurst and Co in London. After completing her Bsc[hons] and M[arch] Architectural studies at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, she moved to London where she passed her Part 3 qualification in 2023 at the University of Westminster. Marina has also volunteered in Access Aspiration programme and is gradually exploring different means to contribute in processes that address principles of place-making and social engagement.

Following personal challenges during both her academic and professional journey, she is motivated to raise mental health awareness, offer support to individuals that may be facing similar or different challenges. The Architect’s Benevolent Society offers support and promotes collective values that are integral to the wellbeing and prosperity of the Architectural community. Being an Ambassador for the Architect’s Benevolent Society offers an invaluable opportunity to contribute to the multitude of causes the Society supports, raise collective awareness and empathy within the profession.

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.

Maryame Chlaita

London | Students

The architectural industry focuses on addressing and solving issues involving design and the built environment. But the needs and challenges that communities face should be taken more seriously. ABS certainly achieves a positive impact by supporting the community in this aspect, and I look up to that. It is inspiring to see ABS addressing issues that affect not only the architectural community but all communities, specifically with financial and mental health care. The support provided through the architectural lens strongly resonated with me.

I have always had an interest in the built environment and the impact it has on communities. Throughout my journey in education, my interest in design within the built environment flourished as I worked on my academic projects to address community needs. As a graduate seeking the next stage in my architectural career, joining ABS will allow me to contribute to positive change by having a platform through ABS to spread awareness and offer my time to support in any way I can.

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Max MacKay

London | Architect

Max Mackay qualified as an ARB qualified architect in 2021 working at Bennett’s Associates, where he working on a number of key projects such as the Facebook offices in Kings cross and Timber Square in Southwark – Central London’s first genuine carbon zero workspace. Max is passionate about all areas of design and has been running his own graphic design company, OMAK Design, for 5 years.

Recently, Max took a step away from a full-time architecture role to pursue a creative direction role at a startup called Purdy and Figg, a sustainable homecare brand based in Shoreditch.

Melissa Kirkpatrick

London | Architect

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 an Architect 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 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.

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 Architects 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.

Naomi Gilbert

West Midlands | Landscape architect

I have recently passed my Chartership to become a Landscape Architect, which was a much more arduous process than I expected. I enjoy working at RPS and working with different disciplines and am proud how supportive the company is. We have mental health first-aiders and there is a health and wellbeing committee.

I know that not every company is so supportive and  that ABS was there for me when I got made redundant during lockdown. They provided support and advice as well as financial support until I could find another role.

 

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

Nico Guillen

London | Architect

I am delighted and honoured to be part of Architect’s Benevolent Society as an Ambassador. I first learnt about the role from a colleague in practice and was deeply impressed by the great work that the Society does for the profession. I hope to contribute to this work with fundraising and through raising awareness of the importance of mental health and wellbeing.

I grew up in Spain and made the move to the UK in my late teens to study architecture. I lived in Canterbury, Glasgow and finally settled in London where I now work as an Architect. My training was a truly enjoyable time of my life, but it did not come without many challenges. I experienced my own struggles with mental health and found it difficult to speak up and get help.

The guidance and kindness I received from my friends and family during this time was invaluable in gaining access to therapy and learning useful coping mechanisms for day-to-day life. I am passionate about helping others in the same way I was helped when I needed it the most. Through my training as a Mental Health First Aider, I endeavour to help those around me whenever possible.

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.

Nikolina Georgieva

London | Architectural Assistant

Nikolina is an Architectural Assistant at Eric Parry Architects, currently completing her Part 3 Qualification at the University of Westminster. She holds an Master’s degree with Distinction from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, where in 2021 she was awarded the Ambrose Poynter Prize for Outstanding Architectural Thesis.

Nikolina is deeply passionate about celebrating diversity and multiculturalism in the architectural profession. She strongly believes that sharing knowledge within academia and practice is fundamental to establishing sustainable and empowering environment, supporting young architects in the pursuit of their professional aspirations. Hence, in the past year, Nikolina has become a mentor on the Building Future Programme at Blueprint for All.

In her role as an ABS Ambassador, Nikolina is enthusiastic about continuing to engage with students and young architects, transitioning from academia to practice. As a graduate during the pandemic, she values the importance of a strong community and healthy personal habits for maintaining one’s mental wellness. With her engagement in ABS, Nikolina will continue to raise awareness about mental health in the architectural field, broadening ABS’s outreach and impact.

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 currently sit on the CIAT ‘Wales’ Committee, and enjoy my role as 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.

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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.

Rick McCluggage

Scotland | Architect

I have been an Ambassador of Architects Benevolent Society since 2018. This is a rewarding role and I use my time and contacts to spread the word of the work ABS does and the support available for people in our profession. It is great to give something back to the industry and be able to use my personal and professional experience to help others, deliver CPDs to other practices, fundraise and participate in workshops etc. I was honoured to represent ABS at the Queen’s Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in 2019 as a guest of our Patron His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester.

In professional life, I am an Architect with 20 years experience in private practice and I am an owner and Director of Smith Scott Mullan Associates in Edinburgh.

Read Rick’s Blog Posts

Rosa Turner Wood

North East | Architectural Assistant

I first gained knowledge of the Architects Benevolent Society when, during my masters, they hosted an event at the Sheffield School of Architecture. In collaboration with the RIBA, ABS sought to raise awareness of mental wellbeing among architecture students and practitioners, and presented the services they could offer those experiencing hardship. Subsequently I used their services to deal with my own mental health needs, and was incredibly impressed with the support ABS staff offered, and the pace with which I was able to access appropriate mental health provision. I believe the intensity of the profession often leads to the neglect of the mental health of its practitioners. Without the work of ABS I know many within the profession would be suffering.

As an Ambassador I have used my role to promote the work of the charity, including hosting a virtual event for Sheffield School of Architecture students (with support from the University’s mental health services). I have also fundraised for the organisation.

ABS is a fantastic charity, providing essential support to architectural practitioners and their families, and I am excited to continue to work in partnership with the organisation.

Read Rosa’s blog posts

Rosie Thirlwell

Senior Architectural Technologist

North East | Architectural Technologist

ABS is a wonderful organisation that I am thrilled to be able to support. I started my journey in the Built Environment in 2012 at Northumbria University reading Architectural Technology. I now work as a senior Architectural Technologist at FaulknerBrowns Architects with a specialism in Sport and Leisure. I really enjoy working on public sector projects and seeing the impact buildings have on local communities and how they contribute to both physical and mental health of individuals. This is something I am keen to help develop through my role at ABS.

As well as my role as a Technologist I also sit on the FaulknerBrowns CSR and Well-being groups. Having a deeper understanding of what ABS offers has helped me in these roles. I am also a CIAT Northern Region Committee member and look forward to bringing both groups together and promoting the amazing work of ABS in the Northern Region.

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Roy Khatchadourian

London | Architect

I am a London based Architect & Founder of STUDIO ARKAY.

I am also a part-time Architectural Design Tutor, at Loughborough University. Since 2018, I’ve been an invited member of the RIBA ‘Education Development Group’ focusing on assessments of grants & recognition – such as the AHR Scholarship & Annie Spink Award.

I came across the ABS in 2016 & stayed in touch with some of its members ever since. I wanted to support the society in any way I could & being an ambassador gives me the opportunity to do just that! I’m honoured to represent such an amazing organization, particularly in the after effects of the recent pandemic – where the importance of physical & mental wellbeing is somewhat better recognized.

Small contributions may have a huge impact on other people’s lives – we’re here to support individuals within our industry, through a collective effort.

 

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.

Read Sam’s Blog Posts
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Shona Sivamohan

East Midlands | Architect

After completing my Masters at The University of Edinburgh, I began my Part 3 studies at The University of Nottingham. Whilst completing my Part 3, I also qualified as a yoga instructor. I am now an Architect working in Nottingham and also teach yoga classes to colleagues and students at the University of Nottingham. Architecture is a demanding course; on top of that I struggled with anxiety during my Undergraduate studies and had to deal with the shock and grief of losing a parent during my Masters. At the time I was unable to get support from my university and I wish I had known about ABS as I may have got the immediate help I needed. As an ABS ambassador I hope to help spread the word on the work ABS does and the support they offer, so that others in similar situations to what I had been in are aware they can always be supported during difficult times.

Shreenidhi Srinath

London | Architectural Assistant

I decided to join Architect’s Benevolent Society as through my architectural education, I have seen myself and my peers struggle. Helping others to overcome their issues and simply open up has ignited a passion in me to reach out. I needed to channel this energy, and ABS has been an excellent organisation to be amongst like-minded individuals.

Currently undertaking my Part 2 at The London School Of Architecture, I cannot wait to build upon my professional network to spread the much needed positive energy of ABS. I am passionate in specifically how we can tackle the pressures of architectural education in the way students are expected to learn and perform.

I hope to help build a new generation of architects with a sustainably healthy mindset.

Simeon Shtebunaev

West Midlands |

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.

Read Simeon’s Blog Posts

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.

Read Sophie’s Blog Posts

Stephen Drew

Founder of the Architecture Social

London | Architect

Stephen is the Founder of the Architecture Social and a Council Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He worked in the Architecture industry at EPR Architects for three years after completing a degree and diploma in Architecture at the University of Westminster and Manchester School of Architecture. In 2014, Stephen left practising Architecture to pursue a career in recruitment where he worked alongside industry-leading Architecture Practices such as AHMM, Allies and Morrison, Benoy, Sheppard Robson and Skidmore Owings and Merrill to find creative designers for their teams. In 2021, Stephen joined Ackroyd Lowrie, an ambitious Architecture Practice as their Head of Talent. He was responsible for internal recruitment and retaining existing staff, alongside building up his own business known as the Architecture Social. The Architecture Social is an online platform packed with content, resources and tools to help creatives find new jobs, stand out from the crowd and take their career in Architecture to the next level. The combination of working directly in the Architecture Industry as a designer and hiring manager, as well as a consultant in the Recruitment Industry, means that the Architecture Social has a fresh spin on an old formula by breaking down traditional barriers between companies and creatives, providing a supportive environment to develop professional skills, find new jobs and socialise.

Currently, he is an elected member of the RIBA Council, an ambassador for ABS, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a professional member of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and the Association Of Professional Staffing Companies. Previously a Visiting Critic and Teaching Assistant of Manchester School of Architecture, professional mentor for postgraduate students of Architecture at the University of Westminster, and a guest lecturer for students of LMJU.

He says, “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. 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.”

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.

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.

Úna Haran

South East | Architectural Assistant

Hello, my name is Úna (pronounced “oo-na”) and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am a Part II architectural assistant with 51 architecture, specialising in historical research, and sustainable design including lifecycle carbon assessment. My research interests include biodiverse landscape architecture, and low-impact building technologies. I trained at the University of Brighton and The Bartlett School of Architecture. I love gardening and swimming in the sea in Brighton where I live.

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.

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 Development Manager dedicated to education, mentoring and helping others to achieve their dreams within the construction industry and beyond.

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

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