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’With all parts of the UK now effectively in our third lockdown, retail workers are under even more pressure,’ said BRC CEO Helen Dickinson

A retail charity is expecting record numbers of shopworkers to need financial support this month and is appealing to businesses to donate.

Retailtrust provides non-repayable grants to workers in the sector struggling to pay bills or buy enough food.

The charity provided £828,000 in grants last year, a 125% increase on 2019, as retail workers struggled with financial pressures in the pandemic. The strain on finances of Christmas means the charity typically sees a big rise in demand for its services at this time of year, and has branded January its ‘financial health and wellness’ month.

It is expecting new lockdowns to combine with January financial woes to create unprecedented demand for help from retail staff.

“Coming straight after Christmas, January is when people are the hardest hit financially and money worries soar,” said Retailtrust CEO Chris Brook-Carter.

“Each January, the trust receives a huge increase in applications for financial aid and support and, in light of the impact of Covid on job security, we are expecting this to hit record levels in 2021.”

BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said: “2020 was an incredibly difficult year for everyone, and retail workers were no exception. In fact, they continued to go above and beyond to serve us all throughout the pandemic.

“With all parts of the UK now effectively in our third lockdown, retail workers are under even more pressure. The work of Retailtrust in supporting them is beyond invaluable. And it is critical that across the industry we do everything we can to support the mental health and wellbeing of the people we have relied upon so much during what are likely to be the toughest months yet to come.”

As well as donations, Retailtrust is appealing to businesses for help in getting its services to workers who need them. It wants employers to direct staff to It is also calling on retailers to download its resources, aimed at helping them “start the conversation” about finances, and “delegate” by subscribing to its online wellbeing workshops.

Brook-Carter said: “We are asking retailers to consider activating four Ds this month – download, donate, direct and delegate – to help us support every retail worker who needs our help during these difficult and stressful times.”

The grants are available to those working in retail as well as in supporting industries including manufacturing, logistics and supply chain. They are also available to those who have been made redundant from retail within the last two years, provided they worked in the sector for a minimum three years with no gaps.