AM Online

The Big Picture: BEN needs your support

Walking around the AM Awards in late February and again at the IMI Annual Dinner last month I was struck by how few people were wearing BEN centurion badges. It was also noted by the handful of other centurions in the room.

It’s a sign of how bad things are for the industry’s charity right now. A gaping hole in the finances of more than half a million pounds contrasts with growing demands for its services – clearly something has to give.

In fact it already has with the downgrading of services at one of BEN’s homes. Unless companies and individuals start putting their hands in their pockets, BEN will be forced to take similar cost cutting action in other parts of its business.

It’s a far cry from 2005, when BEN celebrated its centenary with record revenues of £12m and a small surplus. That was down to additional funding, but since then the industry has become complacent.

BEN is a wonderful institution which helps thousands of people. Its four centres have 350 residents, aged from 23 to 102. Its welfare programme supports 6,000 families.

But as the industry changes, the charity must make some hard decisions. The fact that it still supports 88 families 25 years after the Linwood plant in Glasgow closed is fantastic, but at the same time, it’s unrealistic to expect that level of care to continue.

There are political issues around state versus benevolent charity support and there is a risk that individuals might assume that BEN will be there for them and fail to make personal provision.

But, of course, that accusation could be levelled at the majority of individuals in any type of industry – no-one believes in their own vulnerability, nor do they want to plan for the worst. BEN is a key part of the automotive industry. If people don’t want to make personal provision for unforeseen circumstances, they should certainly make some provision for BEN. AM supports BEN. I support BEN. So should you.

To pledge your support. go to BEN’s website at www.ben.org.uk.

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