Automotive industry charity Ben has launched a Christmas appeal with the aim of raising £500,000 so it can continue to help record numbers of people.
It’s fundraising income has been badly impacted by Covid-19, while the pandemic has also made many people need its services more.
The charity said demand for support has increased 147 per cent during 2021 as people have turned to it for issues from mental and physical health to poverty and domestic abuse.
The charity is now asking businesses to pledge support for those industry colleagues and their families who may be struggling.
Already, Ben has received a significant £100,000 donation from Arnold Clark to kick start the campaign.
Eddie Hawthorne, group managing director, said: ‘Ben has always supported our people at Arnold Clark, no matter what issues they have faced, and I am delighted to recognise that with a substantial donation to Ben’s Christmas campaign.
‘There will be many businesses in our industry who have had a very good year, but whose colleagues will have benefited from Ben’s support during what has been an incredibly tough time for them.
‘I would urge them to recognise that by supporting our charity Ben and helping ensure they’re always there for our people.’
Ben chief executive Zara Ross said: ‘While everyone continues to deal with the aftermath of Covid-19, it has been encouraging to see the positive bounce-back enjoyed by much of our industry this year.
‘However, we know that many of our automotive family – the people our industry relies on – are struggling or in crisis as they continue to face life’s toughest challenges.
‘I am proud that together, through the pandemic, we have shown that whenever any member of our automotive family is struggling, we all rally to support them.
‘The Christmas Appeal provides a tangible way that organisations can pledge their support and make a tangible difference.’
Matt Wigginton, Ben’s director of partnerships, engagement and income, added: ‘Twelve months ago, things were looking desperate. More people than ever contacted Ben for support, and we faced the terrible prospect of turning individuals away if we were unable to raise more money.
‘We were so humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity of our industry, with businesses of all sizes pledging donations totalling £600,000 in just a few short weeks.
‘Without that support we would not have been able to support people when Ben was their last or only hope.’
However, he explained that in the last few weeks calls had begun to rise again, saying that ‘already this year we have helped 147 per cent more people than last year, and 78 per cent more than our previous record levels in 2019’.
Ben’s health and wellbeing director, Rachel Clift, said: ‘People are turning to Ben for support with more urgent and more complex issues than ever before.
‘The good news is that we are continuing to make a significant difference in the lives of those people who reach out to us. This is testament to our tailored support and our exceptional team.
‘But with fundraising income still impacted by Covid-19, we are once again facing the prospect of not being able to help everyone.
She added: ‘We hope that we can rely on the industry’s support for this campaign, and that organisations will feel able to make a gift to people in our automotive family who are facing the kind of challenges this Christmas that we hope we will never face ourselves.’