Ben has issued an appeal to help plug a £1 million funding gap after it was forced to cancel its annual fund-raising ball as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The automotive benevolent charity, which has been running for 71 year, said that it had been forced to cancel the event for the first time since World War Two due to concerns surrounding safety in-light of COVID-19.
It said that health concerns and uncertainty around budgets had meant that many regular attendees had indicated that they would have to withdraw their involvement this year.
The 2020 Ben Ball had been scheduled to take place on December 9 and followed a 2019 event which succeeded in raising £87,000.
Matt Wigginton, Ben’s fund-raising director, said: “Making the decision to cancel Ben Ball is one of the hardest I've ever had to make, however with the uncertainty of the situation surrounding COVID-19 and the impact it has had on our industry, it was, unfortunately, inevitable.
“We are living through unprecedented times and this means making tough decisions, but also being adaptable, so we plan to run a virtual fundraising event on December 9 instead, which we hope our industry will get involved in.”
Ben continues to provide mental health support to automotive industry people, including access to mental health assessments, life coaching and telephone-based counselling, as well as other talking therapies.
Earlier this year it also launched a new digital platform for individuals to access self-help support programmes for anxiety, depression, resilience, stress, sleep, as well as mindfulness activities.
In addition, a new programme called ‘Coping with challenging times’ has just been launched on the platform to help people through COVID-19.
However, it said in a statement issued today (July 9) that a need for increased support came at a time when the charity’s income has fallen as a result of the Coronavirus and the impact it has had on the finances of companies and individuals in the industry.
The cancellation of Ben Ball, along with the postponement of other fundraising initiatives, as well as a decline in donations, means that Ben is anticipating a £1m income shortfall this year, similar to many other charities.
As a result, the charity is now appealing for those who can, to continue their support and keep providing vital funds so Ben can always be there for those who are struggling.
Wigginton said: “We would like to take this opportunity to give our heartfelt thanks to those who have continued to support Ben during this time – your support is more valuable now than ever before.
“We look forward to seeing friends, old and new, at next year’s event.”