Well, those five years went pretty fast didn’t they?
As 2017 draws to a close, I wish to take the opportunity to use this space to not only wish you a very Merry Christmas, but also to say my retirement goodbyes to all of you and to thank you for your outstanding support of The Benevolent, our trade charity, over the past 5 years.
Upon reflection, there have been many significant achievements since my appointment in 2013. The number of Corporate Partners supporting us has increased by over 90% and the revenue from their annual donations has increased by over 95%. A much broader cross-section of the trade sectors that make up the UK drinks industry has now been engaged due to extensive awareness-raising work carried out over the last few years. This has created a solid relationship with UK drinks companies who now support our work either through annual donations, gifts in kind or awareness-raising events. More importantly, The Benevolent really does now sit alongside the majority of drinks company’s HR departments when caring for the welfare of their employees.
In 2013 we took the very important strategic decision to move away from owning physical retirement and care homes to a more appropriate strategy aimed at providing much broader support tailored to meet the needs of current members of the trade as well as retired employees. This heralded the introduction of the very relevant ‘emotional and practical’ type of support alongside the financial help that the charity was always known for.
Whilst the fast and timely provision of meaningful financial support will always remain at the core of the charity’s work, nonetheless there was no doubt in our minds that The Benevolent had to do more when providing ‘emotional’ help, especially with regards to well-being and mental health. Therefore the introduction in September this year of the comprehensive telephone helpline service manned by professional counsellors was a game-changer for us. This 7-day-per-week service is aimed at all employees or ex-employees of the trade who are facing any form of personal or family difficulties and where professional advice is needed.
The intense work that has been carried out by myself and the incredible Benevolent Team over the last five years had led to the doubling of the number of beneficiaries reached by our welfare support, whether it was financial, practical or emotional support, or a mixture of all of three. Our help is always tailored to each case and a person’s need. In 2017 we have spent over half a million pounds supporting over 600 cases of help, but we know that there are many more people out there in the trade who need some form of help but they don’t know where to turn. This is where our newly designed ‘Here to Help’ campaign is so important and we need everyone to help us spread the word amongst their colleagues and within their networks.
I believe that we have made significant progress with raising the awareness of our work and this has been accomplished through good marketing, professional use of social media, word of mouth and a presence at key trade events, however there is still work to be done.
It has been truly humbling and rewarding for me to see the positive impact The Benevolent has had, and continues to have, on people in the UK drinks industry that face difficult circumstances and it is only thanks to your support that we are able to make such a difference.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this short message, this is my last message as CEO of The Benevolent and so I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks you to each of you for having been so wonderful to me personally and for helping to make these past 5 years truly unforgettable. I wish to additionally pay tribute to the extraordinarily talented members of my team, both past and present. They have been an absolute joy to work with.
I am now retiring for some well-deserved relaxation as well as devoting time to new personal interests and to my family and some charity work but I will always remain part of this trade.
I will still be seen at trade tastings and events and, if invited, will still be making a spectacle myself on the dancefloor!
On behalf of my team let me wish you a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.