Glass Half Full for Scotland’s licensed trade

SCOTS who have worked in the licensed trade but have fallen on hard times are being encouraged to apply for one-off grants as part of the Scottish Licensed Trade Benevolent Society’s Glass Half Full campaign.

Over the years the industry charity, better known as The BEN, has helped beneficiaries from throughout Scotland with one-off grants of up to £1,000 for everything from essential monthly payments including rent, phone and fuel bills to one-off payments for redecoration, clothing and even funding towards a lost wallet.

Launched last year, the Glass Half Full campaign is targeting current and former members of the licensed trade who have fallen on hard times through illness, unemployment or other factors, and would benefit from financial aid for reasons both big and small.

The charity has been providing social, financial and emotional support to current and former members of the licensed trade for over 150 years, providing regular discretionary payments as well as one-off grants.

Since 2011, over 50% of one-off grants have been for redecoration or household appliances including new cookers, fridge-freezers and vinyl flooring while 19% were for essential bills including mortgage payments, rent, heating, insurance and council tax, highlighting the importance of the service.

During this time, grants were also provided for a new boiler and household repairs as well as healthcare and travel support.

To be eligible for support, applicants must have worked in the licensed trade (incorporating bars, pubs, restaurants, hotels, wholesalers plus packaging, production and distribution firms) for at least three years on a full-time basis. The three years do not need to be consecutive.

As well as encouraging potential beneficiaries to get in touch, the campaign aims to engage members of the licensed trade and the general public, and encourage people to help spread the word. Chris Gardner, chief executive of The BEN, hopes it will enable the charity to support more even people throughout Scotland.

“Since it was established, The BEN has supported thousands of people across Scotland and we continue to strive to help as many as we can today,” she said. “We hope the Glass Half Full campaign will inspire people to either recommend our services or get in touch.

“We know there are hundreds of Scots out there who are eligible for support but just don’t know it so we want to let them know we are here to help – whether that’s emotionally or financially through our regular discretionary payments or one-off grants.

“Anyone can require assistance at any time of their life and, as our records show, this could be anything from tiding you over for a lost wallet to helping with essential payments such as rent or mortgage that allow our beneficiaries to keep a roof over their head.”

Gardner stressed that all approaches remain confidential. “We understand that there can be apprehension and embarrassment which can be caused by seeking financial support,” she said, “but would assure anyone considering contacting us that the application process is completely confidential and any arrangements are managed with the utmost discretion.

“Every beneficiary is treated individually and we would encourage anyone in the licensed trade looking for support to get in touch – we are here to help.”

The BEN has a network of local volunteers who are on hand to support those in need. One BEN visitor is George Reddington, who said: “A lot of former and current workers of the licensed trade won’t know they’re eligible for support and we would encourage those in the industry or even those who know someone eligible for assistance, be that financial or emotional, to get in touch.

“We’d also urge employers across Scotland to inform their staff of the varied services that The BEN provides and the options available, even if it’s just to have a chat.”

Support is also provided through The BEN Pitlochry Estate, which consists of 18 bungalows and offers accommodation for current and retired members of the licensed trade as well as “Respitality” breaks for carers in some of Perthshire’s most picturesque surroundings.

For further information about The BEN or to enquire about support, please visit www.bensoc.org.uk or call 0141 353 3596.

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