The Alcohol Education Trust (AET)

Tackling early age drinking

As a Livery, we have committed to support alcohol education. The Alcohol Education Trust has developed a number of new educational tools that deliver important messages about alcohol to teenagers. Since we started to work with the AET in 2013, this charity has made great progress towards their goal of providing young people with knowledge related to alcohol and regarding the dangers of irresponsible drinking. To learn more about the work of the AET, visit their website The story below shows just how that work and your donations are improving the lives of children.

AET Founder and Director Helena Conibear visited the Court in February and gave an insightful presentation on the work that we help support, commenting as follows…“This year you have supported the Alcohol Education Trust with a wonderful project – helping to ensure that some of the most vulnerable children across England learn how to stay safe around alcohol. National research shows that one in five children have some level of special educational needs across Britain, and that children who have learning difficulties are three times more likely to be abused, tragically with alcohol often being used as part of the grooming process.With careful input from special educational needs specialists, the AET completed a complex set of resources for children of mixed abilities.The programme is based around understanding consent and how alcohol can affect decision making, increase vulnerability to others and susceptibility to other risk taking. It is also adapted to be used in a variety of settings, such as small groups or on a one-to-one basis.The Distillers’ Charity’s grant has given us the ability to open doors in hard-to reach areas across Britain that need us most. It has also helped us to negotiate matched funding from local authorities,youth aspiration and safer community funds, ensuring that practical, engaging resources on alcohol education are used in more schools and settings across the UK.”

Tough love parenting

The Isle of Wight conjures up beautiful images of sand, sea, sailing regattas, beach holidays and rolling hills, but you may be surprised to learn that this idyllic island has seven areas that are in the 20% most deprived areas in England. With one in five island children living in poverty, it is in the top 10 areas for under 18 alcohol-related hospital admissions. That is why the Isle of Wight is a focus area for our “Talk about alcohol” programme, in local schools, which encourages teachers to listen and engage with young people about their worries, concerns and pressures around risk-taking and, in particular, drinking. By working holistically within the community, we have been able to concentrate on solutions and alternatives to underage drinking and drunkenness. Your donations have definitely made a difference and changed people’s lives and this work could not continue without the financial help from the Distillers’ Charity. Thank you so much.
Helen Conibear
Director, Alcohol Education Trust

The Benevolent

The Benevolent is the trade charity for people who are working in, or who have worked in, the UK drinks industry. The Distillers’ Charity supports The Benevolent by way of our corporate patronage. In the past few years, The Benevolent has expanded the spectrum and breadth of support provided to colleagues in the UK drinks industry who are in need. The focus of the strategy is to provide more emotional support and to make this a cornerstone of the charitable operations of The Benevolent. A tangible example is Mike’s story.“Mike has always been driven by a passion for the spirits sector, which led him to embark upon his chosen career in bartending. He was fully enjoying his role as a bar manager at one of the most popular cocktail bars in London, when the proprietor decided to dismiss him. Not only was the dismissal unfair and with immediate effect, but Mike was also denied any lump sum for all his unused leave. Mike experienced the emotional distress of being dismissed unfairly and illegally, and also found himself under huge financial strain as the job was his only source of income. Incredibly stressed and genuinely scared, Mike started to feel lost and depressed, not knowing whereto turn.Mike was referred to the Benevolent by a friend, who was also a Benevolent Ambassador, and the trade charity immediately intervened. The organisation funded the fees of Mike’s solicitor in order to take the case to an Employment Tribunal and also provided him with an extra emergency grant to help him back on his feet during this stressful time. The charity has been by his side constantly throughout this journey. Mike realised that he’s not alone – he is aware that The Benevolent is there to lend a helping hand if he faces any future hardships.

Mental health is a crucial topic. The Benevolent, the Drinks Industry Charity, has decided to be part of a social movement aimed at changing the perception of mental health difficulties and advocating for a stigma-free conversation.

Thus The Benevolent is pleased to officially launch the charity’s new mental health awareness campaign #NotAlone. #NotAlone aims to encourage members of the Trade to speak freely about mental health issues within the workplace, creating a stigma-free environment, reminding both employers and employees that The Benevolent is here with professionals at hand who can help you. The campaign is available here:

T complement the launch of the campaign, The Benevolent has commissioned a survey addressed to the current members of the UK drinks industry aimed at outlining current mental health difficulties experienced by members of the UK drinks industry and discovering existing HR policies or practices to support employees with mental health difficulties. The research is run by Wine Intelligence and is available via this link:

The Benevolent team are urging members of the Trade to engage and answer the questionnaire, and to forward the link of the survey to their colleagues, employees and friends within the Trade.

The Benevolent’s CEO David Cox to Retire

The Benevolent, the Drinks Industry Charity, is announcing that David Cox is to retire from his role as Chief Executive at the end of the year.

Cox has spent nearly five years as CEO of the charity, and over 32 years in the drinks industry. After an early career outside the trade, David joined his maternal family’s wine and spirit agency firm, Matthew Clark as Export Director in 1985. When the family sold Matthew Clark to Constellation Brands, David joined the leading USA drinks company Brown-Forman establishing their wine division in Europe. After 14 years he then became the ‘face’ of New Zealand wines in the UK & Europe running that generic body, before joining The Benevolent in 2013.

Commenting on his career, David says, “When approached by the trustees of The Benevolent in 2013, I always knew that this role would represent an incredibly rewarding and very fitting end to an immensely enjoyable career in this fantastic trade of ours. This has definitely been the case.”

During his time at the charity there have been many achievements accomplished by Cox. The number of Corporate Partners has increased by over 90 per cent and the revenue from their annual donations has increased by over 95 per cent. Many more trade sectors of the UK drinks industry have now been engaged due to Cox’s extensive contacts and the charity’s awareness has risen significantly. A strategic decision was taken in 2013 to move away from owning physical retirement and care homes to a more appropriate strategy aimed at providing much broader support tailored to meet the needs of current members of the trade as well as retired employees. This heralded the introduction of the very relevant ‘emotional and practical’ type of support alongside the financial help that the charity was known for.

The new wider support introduced under Cox’s leadership led to the creation of the ‘Here to Help’ campaign, devised to raise awareness of the charity amongst the wider UK drinks industry. The campaign allowed the charity’s messaging to penetrate new sectors of the UK drinks industry and consequently reach even more members of the trade in need. Since Cox’s appointment, the welfare support provided has increased by 112 per cent, doubling the cases of support since 2013. Cox commented, “With the growing issues of mental health and general wellbeing, we are now ideally placed to offer a much-needed safety net and support to those less fortunate than ourselves. Given that the drinks industry represents such a wonderful community, I believe this is incredibly laudable.”

David Cox will be replaced as Chief Executive by Chris Porter, currently ‎Director of Porter & Laker, a division of JF Hillebrand UK. With over 35 years’ experience in the logistics and freight forwarding sector, Chris Porter will be the first CEO in the charity’s 131 year history coming from the logistics service background. Moreover, Porter is not new to the charity, having been involved with the charity for over 16 years, a trustee on its board since 2010 and Chris was the Chairman of The Benevolent in 2013 and 2014.

Chris Porter commented, “It was always going to take something very special for me to move anywhere after a very rewarding and enjoyable 34 years with two wonderful family businesses. The Benevolent is that something very special. It is a fantastic opportunity for me and represents everything that I believe in. I look forward to building on the terrific impact made by David Cox over the last four years, driving the charity further forwards as we develop our strategic goals. Above all, I look forward to The Benevolent being able to deliver help to a greater number of people in our national trade community who are in need and suffering hardship. I would like to thank my many clients and trade friends for their support during my years with Porter & Laker and my colleagues, past and present, for their professionalism, dedication and friendship. I look forward to continuing and broadening our association through my new role.”

Tom Yusef, Chairman of The Benevolent, quoted, “It has been a real privilege working with David in the past few months. David has demonstrated an innovative and superb leadership, which has taken the charity to a completely different level since his appointment. I am delighted that Chris, who I have known for 27 years and worked with for 23 of those years, is already taking such a hands-on approach to his new role and I look forward to working with the team to ensure the growth and development of The Benevolent under Chris’ fresh and energetic leadership. Chris is ideally placed to engage all sectors of the trade and raise even more awareness of the important work of the charity.”

David Cox is excited about the new chapter of his life, which will be devoted to spending more time with his family, taking up cookery and photography and playing more tennis. Cox commented “I have loved being part of this trade and so will not disappear completely. I will still be seen at trade tastings and, if invited, still making a spectacle of myself on the dancefloor! My only disappointment is that my twin brother Michael and I were planning to retire at the same time and dribble and moan about life together but at least people are now spared that sight!”

Tom Yusef Walks the Wall

Tom Yusef  is the current Chairman of The Wine and Spirits Trades Benevolent Society. Tom and his wife Carol, have just completed an unforgettable fundraising journey walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall raising money for this excellent charity that supports our colleagues in our industry in need of help. Their walk started at Wallsend on Sunday 21 May and they finished at Bowness-on-Solway on Friday 26 May.

The 84 mile long journey took Tom and Carol through Roman forts, mileposts and bath houses and the wall is one of the most famous of all the frontiers of the Roman empire. Hadrian’s Wall was made a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Tom aims to raise £25,000 for our trade charity and he has already passed the £10,000 mark which is fantastic. As a proud supporter of The Benevolent, I am asking you all to please make even a small donation to support such a wonderful challenge for such a wonderful charity, our own trade charity.

To support Tom’s Challenge please make your donation to the official BT Donate page of the ‘Walk The Wall’ Challenge: Here is the link:

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