The idea is the brainchild of Caravan, the grocery industry’s welfare charity, which is meeting major retailers and suppliers to ask them for their support.
Tony Smith, Unilever Foods UK’s sales director, and chairman of the Caravan trustees, said: “When you look at the sheer numbers of people who meet our criteria for support, you are talking about literally thousands of people and a few thousand a year are adding to that. You can’t just increase the numbers of the charity’s beneficiaries at a rate that
addresses the problem.”
Education is the long-term answer, according to Smith, who said: “We have to engage with people. It’s not a question of making those approaching retirement aware of the issues. We need to reach those who are years away from retirement and think that they don’t need pension provision yet.”
Donations are a small part of Caravan’s revenue. So it is trying to increase the amount of support given via donation so that it can fund an awareness campaign. Smith said: “This is about marshalling our forces to make sure we are doing something to stop this problem getting any bigger.”
At the same time, fundraising continues. Caravan needs £1.7m a year to support beneficiaries. Smith, who is also taking on the presidency of the charity this year, said: “As the industry consolidates, so the sources of funding diminish and the fundraising gets harder.
“But we have a programme of fantastic national and regional fundraising events and great branch support.”
Getting bums on seats at these events was a priority, said Smith, who is keen to extend the network of businesses that support the functions of the charity to new areas such as the advertising companies that profit from the industry.