CAT lives: BEN

BEN organises days out for its dependants
BEN organises days out for its dependants

What is BEN? It’s your industry charity. What does BEN do? It offers care, support and welfare to the motor trade. Who is BEN for? You, your family, and your dependants.

No less than 15,000 people are helped by BEN every year, but that figure is quickly dwarfed when Head of Marketing Ray Diggins explains the scope of BEN’s remit. Taking into account not only the 850,000 or so members of the UK motor trade at the moment, but also their dependant family members, BEN is looking at a potential audience of two million people.

That audience comes from all ages too – much of BEN’s work is done with the children of its dependants.

Diggins says some people will only recognize what BEN does at the other end of the scale, through its network of care centres: “The centres look after about 350 people, but that’s only one side of what we do. We also have a very active welfare network; they will offer support and advice on how to get help if people need it. They can also approach other organisations on behalf of beneficiaries.”

Getting the right message out to such a large network was always going to be tough, but fortunately awareness of BEN is growing. “We’re getting a lot more referrals through the website,” says Diggins “year on year our web traffic is up by 40 percent, and our page views have gone up by 48 percent.”

15,000 people are helped by BEN every year
15,000 people are helped by BEN every year

Diggins says one of the biggest problems he faces in delivering BEN’s message is misconception: “A lot of people don’t know that the help extends to not only those who work in the industry, but have worked in the industry. We talk about our work in terms of a family. You can leave a family physically, but you never stop being a part of it. The motor trade is just a big family.

“BEN’s offering is very wide and its reach is very long. We need to get rid of those misconceptions that stop people from contacting us. We need to change the idea that if someone has left the industry, they’re no longer entitled to help. We also need to dispel the myth that if someone works for a company that doesn’t in itself support BEN that they don’t qualify for help. They do.”

Of course, helping an entire trade is going to cost money, £12 million every year in fact. Consequently BEN is hugely reliant upon, and extremely grateful for, the support it receives from the industry and those who work in it. Fortunately, there’s a lot of ways to get involved. Whether it’s taking part in any of the numerous events the charity hosts throughout the year, or enrolling in a payroll or performance-related giving scheme.

“Our volunteers come from all sorts of areas, from individuals who want to help on an ad-hoc basis to a very organised volunteering project,” says Diggins.

BEN HQ is set in luxurious surroundings
BEN HQ is set in luxurious surroundings

“There’s a great deal of warmth and affection for BEN in the UK. Everyone who knows about us, loves us; we’re a good thing. The problem is that not everyone who can receive our help knows about us.”

From those that do receive BEN’s help, however, the thanks is there to see. Many of the walls in BEN’s offices are adorned with thank you notes and letters from people all over the country.

Diggins hands over one such letter. It says saying that in some cases all BEN needs to do to help is be at the end of a telephone to offer support and advice. The last line of the letter simply reads: “Thanks for being here.”

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