Automotive industry charity Ben is to farm out its care services to new operators in a radical shake-up of its strategy.
It has homes in Ascot, Easenhall and Berwick-upon Tweed that provide residential, nursing, dementia and respite care, while its Ben Care centre supports over-55s in Coventry.
In its most recent annual report, for 2022, Ben – which will be the beneficiary of the raffle at this year’s Car Dealer Used Car Awards on November 27 – said the cost of providing care in its homes had risen by 7% to £11.1m.
Although that was lower than the increase in average occupancy, it still faced cost pressures, especially in staffing where vacancies meant higher agency costs.
Now, as part of a new five-year strategic plan following what it called ‘a significant increase in service demand since 2018’, Ben said it would be transferring stewardship of these services to new operators, with more details to be revealed soon.
Ben’s board of trustees and executive team spent 12 months on a strategic review of the support and services the charity operates.
It said the aftermath of the pandemic plus cost-of-living pressures had seen it respond to ever-increasing demand each year, with more requests for support than ever.
In a statement, Ben said: ‘Through a recent strategic review process, Ben’s board of trustees reflected on the changing context for people working in the automotive industry and the impact that it is having, and will have, on their health and wellbeing.
‘In light of the growing demand for Ben’s health and wellbeing services, the board concluded that over the next five-to-10-year period, the priority of the charity will be to significantly increase these services for industry people and their family dependants.
‘This will entail enhancing and accelerating both our reactive and preventative health and wellbeing support services and driving increased impact and engagement across the automotive industry.’
The charity added: ‘Establishing Ben’s future focus has required a fundamental review of all Ben’s current services.
‘Our care, and latterly village, services have been an integral and valued part of the charity for over 70 years.
‘Both the board and executive team are extremely proud of these services and the excellent reputation they have achieved over the years.
‘After very careful consideration, the board, supported by Ben’s executive team, has unanimously concluded that now is the right time to recommend the transfer of these services to the stewardship of new operators.
‘We believe this will ensure that these services and our employees working in them have the very best opportunity to continue to flourish, develop and thrive.’
CEO Zara Ross said the announcement marked a significant period of change for the charity but it believed that now was the right time for it to make that commitment.
‘This will enable us to grow and accelerate support and services for our automotive family,’ she said.
‘Since 2018, when Ben launched its previous five-year strategic plan, we have developed our health and wellbeing services and managed significant growth in demand.
‘More people than ever are reaching out to us due to their mental health and financial pressures, along with many life- and health- or wellbeing-related issues.
‘In addition to this, we are also, sadly, responding to more cases where automotive people have been affected by the loss of a colleague through suicide.
‘Our board of trustees and executive team are committed to growing our charitable impact even further, but we must raise awareness of the support that Ben provides to ensure we can be there for those who are struggling or in crisis.
‘We cannot do this alone. We need our industry to join us in raising awareness and help us to support even more of our automotive family.
‘We look forward to sharing more about the scale of our ambition and plans soon.’
According to Ben’s 2022 report, during the year it also supported 2,681 individuals, which was a 91% rise on 2021.
It handled 1,403 support cases, which was up 21%, and spent £2.3m on charitable activities versus £1.7m the year before – a 35% increase.
Anyone needing help from Ben can contact it on 08081 311333 or email [email protected].
Pictured, via Ben, is the charity’s Birch Hill care home in Berwick-upon-Tweed