British industry charities that offer practical and financial help

Cargo ship being unloaded in Felixstowe

Benevolent funds are charities that can help people during bad times, for example illness or unemployment. Some are regional, but many are aimed at people who work (or have worked) in a particular industry, for example merchant shipping (pictured). Partners and children can usually get help too.

Sometimes you will need to have worked in an industry for a few years to access help. You don’t always need to work in an industry directly. For example, if you are in a call centre for an insurance company, you could try an insurance benevolent fund.

The type and amount of help can vary, but it might include advice, practical help or grants for items like furniture, computers or living costs.

Some benevolent funds help in other ways, such as paying for education or offering coaching or career development. Some even run subsidised nursing homes aimed at elderly people who worked in a particular industry. See the individual websites for more details.

If you are (or were) a member of a professional organisation, this is a good place to look for help because they often have their own funds. There are also lots of specialist military benevolent funds that are not listed here.

Benevolent funds by type

If you can’t find anything that might help you in the list below, the Association of Charitable Organisations offers a searchable list of charities that offer help. Some help people in particular region, others focus on a particular industry, and others help members of professional organisations.

You could also try the Turn2Us website, which has a very useful way to search for grants.


Miscellaneous industries

Retail & manufacture

  • Footwear trade: Footwear Friends
  • Retail industry (for example, shop assistants, shop owners or people working in manufacture or distribution): Retail Trust
  • Horticulture: Perennial
  • Home improvement and garden products manufacture, wholesale or retail. Also tradespeople (for example builders, electricians, plumbers or carpenters): Rainy Day Trust
  • Furniture and furnishings: The Furniture Makers’ Company
  • People working with wood and timber (eg tree surgeons, furniture makers, boat builders, window makers): TTBS
  • Business and stationery supplies: BOSS
  • People in giftware, jewellery, surface engineering, travel goods and fashion accessories: BATF Benevolent Society
  • Bookselling and book publishing, printing and restoration: The Book Trade Charity

Food, drink & farming

Hospitality, catering, pubs

Public sector, health & care



Transport & travel

Fishing & marine

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