Retailers and suppliers are being asked to dig deep this year and support the grocery industry’s welfare charity Caravan as it looks to raise £2m.

The charity’s president Jack Sinclair, Safeway’s marketing and trading director, admitted this year’s fundraising target was a “big ask” in the current climate.

Sinclair took over as Caravan president from Unilever Bestfoods’ Gavin Neath, who he said had done a “great job” raising a record £1.5m last year for the charity. But he said it was vital to raise more money this year if the charity was to continue helping those former employees of the industry who had fallen on hard times.

Uniq boss Bill Ronald, who is the charity’s deputy president, agreed the target was challenging but said: “There is a huge sense of corporate social responsibility in this industry and that’s what we must tap into.”

This year’s target will be met in a number of ways.

First, Sinclair said, the charity would be looking to its regional branches to build on the past year’s sterling fundraising efforts. He praised the work being done in the branches - particularly the breadth of their activities - and said they would again play a key role in helping the charity meet its income target.

“From a national point of view,” Sinclair added, “we need to encourage even more people to support the big events we run
such as the annual luncheon, the carol concert and the ball.”

He said a priority was to increase the number of companies involved, both nationally and in the regions, thereby broadening its support.

Plenty of companies and individuals supported Caravan, said Sinclair, but more needed to get involved in its fundraising efforts. “We should be able to appeal to people’s sense of responsibility to those who have served this industry so well in the past,” said Sinclair.

“The young managers’ group is helping here,” he added, “by raising awareness of the charity among the next generation of executives.”

Their next event is the trolley race which takes place at Woburn Safari Park on October 12 (see p26 for details).

The charity also had a number of new fundraising ideas in the pipeline, said Sinclair, ranging from a scratchcard promotion to a national football competition.

Both men stressed the need for a safety net like Caravan would not diminish in the coming years - particularly in the wake of the current pensions crisis.

“Many people are not making provision for themselves and they are going to get into difficulty,” said Sinclair.
Julian Hunt