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Prince William visits Microsoft’s £1bn data centre to spotlight mental health

Written by Thu 21 Sep 2023

Prince William toured Microsoft’s new £1 billion ($1.2 billion) data centre site in a visit to highlight suicide prevention in the construction industry.

The heir to the throne visited the North Acton data centre site with individuals representing various sectors within the construction industry. They discussed the profound impact of mental health in their personal and professional lives.

Microsoft’s data centre facility is currently under construction by Mace, a global consultancy and construction firm. Project Director at Mace, Mike Barford, said the culture around mental health and well-being is improving in the industry, but far too slowly.

“We know if we want to make a real difference, we need genuine cultural change. I hope that moments like this one can help to drive that shift in attitudes,” said Barford.

The trip was organised by mental health charity Mates in Mind. Managing Director, Sarah Meek, said the charity aims to ensure that ‘no-one experiences mental ill-health through their work’.

“We were truly honoured to host a visit from The Prince of Wales today, to discuss the importance of focusing on prevention, rather than crisis management, to reduce the unacceptably high number of suicides in the construction industry,” said Meek.

Mace and Mates in Minds partnered to emphasise proactive prevention strategies in the sector, prioritising employer support for workers’ mental well-being.

Workers in construction are at some of the highest risk of suicide in the country. Rates are nearly four times higher than national average, according to Mace. The firm stated its commitment to supporting its employees’ mental health.

During his visit to the data centre site, Prince William learned how the partnership between Mace and Mates in Mind aims to enhance mental health awareness with workshops and training. The initiative endeavours to ensure timely support for those at risk of mental health issues.

According to The Mirror, the prince asked the data centre construction workers if they talked about mental health.

“I imagine construction is quite a male-dominated environment, that’s a hard-to-reach group.

“We want to help empower people to speak about their problems in a safe space and ensure mental health is embedded in everything we do. It is important everyone has the ability to be open,” said Prince William.

Mace is set to complete the billion-pound data centre by early 2026. Microsoft is overseeing the development with data centre specialist Goodman.

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Written by Thu 21 Sep 2023

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