A female scaffolder is helping to break down gender stereotypes while she works on one of the most high profile restoration jobs in the land.
For the past 16 months, Fay Parker has been helping to erect scaffolding on Big Ben as the part of the iconic clock tower’s multi-million pound revamp.
The 29-year-old is believed to be one of only six female scaffolders in the country and is keen to encourage other women into jobs that have been traditionally seen as men-only roles.
Fay, who works for access firm PHD Group which supplies scaffolding, hoists and mast climbers, hopes that the fact she is working on such a prestigious project will help encourage other women to enter jobs in the construction industry.
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Fay, of south London, said: “I think it’s really important that women aren’t pigeon-holed into a particular role. If young girls can see women doing jobs that are usually done by men then perhaps it’ll make them realise they can do the work too.
“My dad was a scaffolder and then my cousin got me into it and I paid for my first course myself. I didn’t think being a woman should stop me.
“I love my job. It’s amazing to be working on somewhere like Big Ben that is known all over the world. It’s a privilege to be able to go up there every day. Hopefully it can inspire other women.
“Scaffolding work is physically demanding but there’s a lot of strong women out there. It means I can stay fit while doing the job whereas my mates are having to go to the gym.
“Once I’ve got the right amount of experience I’m hoping to use my qualifications to work abroad and go travelling. The qualifications we get in the UK are renowned all over the world so it opens up opportunities abroad.”
PHD Group recently won the prestigious Access and Scaffolding Specialist 2019 award from Construction News with its work on Big Ben receiving particular praise, as well as its dedication to its workforce.
The company which has large access projects in the UK and overseas is helping to banish the traditional view of scaffolding firms who sometimes have a reputation for employing wolf-whistling workers.
Fay said: ‘When people think of access and scaffolding firms they imagine a bloke turning up with poles on the back of his van.
‘Where I work is a big, really professional operation. People are sometimes surprised to see a woman on site but everyone’s accepts me for who I am. There is banter but everyone gets on well and it’s not an issue me being the only woman on site. Everyone is respectful.
The scaffolding around Big Ben stands at more than 90 metres tall and had to be specially designed to ensure that it didn’t damage the clock tower.
While Fay has been working at Big Ben, below her in the House of Commons MPs have dithered, delayed, schemed and argued over the way forward for Brexit.
Fay said: “I just get on with my work. It’s strange to think that all these huge decisions for the country’s future are being made below where I work. Perhaps they should just get on with their job as well.”
PHD Group which turns over £40 million a year and employs more than 400 people is currently starting an acquisitions programme to buy access companies across the country to create a network of sites.
Alan Brockhouse, CEO of PHD Group, said: “Fay is a great role model and I hope she’ll inspire other women to take up access and scaffolding work.
“We’re expanding the business and in the process of buying up new companies. This will mean taking on new workers and we hope to be able to attract more women employees to work on our front line. We employ people based on their ability, not their gender. Times are changing for the better and we hope to help be a positive part of creating positive role models for women.”