Steve Barnes: GroceryAid

Vital support

Posted by: Steve Barnes Thu, 4 Oct 2018

GroceryAid, the national charity for the grocery industry, recently published its first ever Impact Report and even for me, working at the charity day in day out, the numbers were quite astonishing.

The report revealed that in 2017, GroceryAid spent £4.7m making life better for grocery people who found themselves in difficulties. Applications rose by 22% and for the first time employers have become the charity’s primary referrer – which is an important milestone as awareness in the grocery industry grows.

Of the 14,583 people helped, 62% were of working age, clearly reflecting the impact that the industry’s tough trading times are having on our colleagues. 

It wasn’t only financial intervention that people were reaching out for. The Helpline, which provides practical advice and emotional support on problems including traumatic incident support, mental health issues, finance worries, relationship breakdowns and carers support, saw a 26% increase in calls.

During the year we provided 98% more phone counselling sessions, our Relate relationship service saw a threefold increase and use of the Renovo return to work support service was up 75%.

For smaller independents who don’t have an Employee Assistance Programme in place, GroceryAid is indispensable. I encourage all business owners to ensure those working for them are fully aware of our services. 

We know that any unforeseen event can knock people into emotional and financial hardship. Our one-off crisis grants increased by 86% this year and as the industry goes through a restructure, we expect applications to continue to rise.

Don't buy our campaign

Posted by: Steve Barnes Fri, 9 Jun 2017

I hope as you are reading this short piece, you will have noticed some fantastic products being advertised for your stores. We are lucky enough to be working in a hugely innovative industry that constantly delights shoppers with new products, flavours, experiences and so forth.

Buying the right product to place on to shelves can make a massive difference to the bottom line. But it is not the only thing that generates profit in stores. Ensuring your colleagues are happy and well to provide great customer service also makes a huge difference.

Of course no-one can guarantee that they will feel great every day. Unfortunately the unexpected occurs in people’s lives all too frequently. Colleagues may not always want to share these challenges but they could want help.

This is where GroceryAid can support you and your colleagues in a variety of ways and the best way to access our assistance is through our 24/7 365 days a year Helpline on 08088 02 11 22.

And this is why we have launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the areas where we can help. In the coming weeks, you will see some beautifully designed products appearing in publications but we don’t want you to buy them! Do you really want to take “Loneliness”, “Stress”, “Illness” and “Debt” into your stores?

We don’t think any of our convenience store colleagues want to buy these either and please. If you like the campaign, spread the word. If you want to know more about the work GroceryAid does in our industry then please get in touch with me on

Support for our own

Posted by: Steve Barnes Tue, 7 Mar 2017

I was once asked what my dream job would be. It was a serious question and so I gave an honest answer. It was to be chief executive of GroceryAid. Why, you may ask? Two reasons: I passionately believe in our industry and the people within it; and I had long admired the charity and the difference it makes to grocery people’s lives.

Convenience has been key in shaping me in this trade. In 1995 while I was at IGD, I commenced an ambitious project to measure the size and value of the UK c-store market. The project took me round the country to visit many excellent chains and I fell in love with the sector – the concept, the people and the vitality of continual reinvention.

One thing I never measured, though, was the number of people working in the sector. The excellent research done by the ACS points to almost 400,000 – that is a huge number and one that has a special resonance for me now at GroceryAid.

We are the trade charity for this industry, here to help those who have made the sector what it is when they fall on hard times. One practical example is our free Helpline (08088 02 11 22), which offers advice on health and wellbeing, relationships, debt and post-impact support. We also assist thousands of beneficiaries and their families financially with emergency grants, essential items and longer-term regular payments.

GroceryAid is a unique organisation. We rely entirely on funding from our trade and spent £4.3m last year on supporting beneficiaries. If you want to find out more about us, then get in touch 

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