An Interview With Ross Carter: CEO of The Drinks Trust

Cask Trade

Fundraising for The Drinks Trust

In such a fast growing sector, The Drinks Trust offers vital support through financial help, training, and wellbeing programmes - a much-needed lifeline to the drinks industry.

At Cask Trade, we have set ourselves the target of raising £10,000 for this fantastic charity through the sale of limited edition Speyside 2015 bottles, and a very exciting raffle at our summer event in June.

In the lead up to our event we spoke to Ross Carter, CEO of the Drinks Trust, to learn more about his role at the charity, and other projects the charity are working on this year.

What’s your position at The Drinks Trust? 

I am the Chief Executive and I’ve been with the organisation for 5 years. 

What’s your background in the drinks industry? 

I have had a varied background in drinks and hospitality since I left university 25 years ago. 

I worked for PLB, which was purchased by Bibendum, doing supply, management and buying and then I worked on running the London Wine Fair for many years. I also ran events in the hospitality space including HRC – Hotel, Restaurant and Catering at Excel. 

What made you want to work with The Drinks Trust? 

I was approached by the organisation as they wanted to develop the charity. It had been around since 1886 as a benevolent charity and it needed updating. 

At the time, 75% of our beneficiaries were the on-trade workforce and now, whilst this is still a big area for us, we have moved into well-being and training and have a much more holistic approach. 

The three core areas we offer help are: Assist, which is financial support; Restore, our well-being programme open to anyone. There are no barriers to mental well-being and it is very much open to all. Finally, Develop which is our educational services offering training around industry qualifications. 

Tell us more about The Drinks Trust 

Before the pandemic, we were known as The Benevolent - a wine and spirits trade society. 

When we rebranded as The Drinks Trust we started getting shouts out on social media from celebrity brand owners, which raised our awareness further, so we were happy to help so many more people. 

We used to help 1200 people per year typically and now it’s over 5000. If we were able to help everyone who applied that figure would be double. 

The Drinks Trust employs nine people, full and part-time. We are a small organisation but we outsource services as well. One of the challenges of the charity is we want to give as many pennies in the pound, so we need to keep overheads low to give as much away as possible. 

What does a typical day look like for you? 

My day is very varied, which is one of the things with running a small organisation with lots of parts. There are so many touchpoints, everything from admin to fundraising, marketing and every other bit aside. It’s not a typical Chief Executive role, I am very hands-on like everyone in the organisation. Everyone gets stuck in when it comes to events, we have to be versatile in a small organisation. It feels quite entrepreneurial in that sense.  

What are the key things people should know about The Drinks Trust? 

We are the industry charity for the drinks and hospitality sector supporting everyone from the point of production to the point of sale. From people in a brewery to the behind bar, we are open to all. The three ways we help people is via our Assist, Restore and Develop programmes.  

Many people who support us are in the industry and very generous with their fundraising. 95% comes from the businesses in the industry, but also from individuals who climb Snowdon etc. 

We encourage anyone to get involved. 

Is there anything in particular you are working on this year you would like to share? 

Most recently we have been working on a new facet of our Restore service centred around well-being. We offer a BAP (business advisory programme) looking at pro-active well-being as well as reactive. Our existing services are still there for when people are in need. However the pre-emptive services are highly beneficial to staff to help with things like attendance and productivity in the workplace. It’s a dedicated subscription service championing well-being and best practice in the workplace. We have 15 businesses signed up and are getting more and more interest. It was conceived as a service akin to others we provide and is a new way of fundraising. It seems to be taking off, there is a huge appetite for it. We also run quarterly events for members on the obvious elements of well-being, but also on things like safeguarding and menopause. There is much more about well-being for people to understand and there is a real need now.

How can people support The Drinks Trust? 

We encourage more and more businesses to be involved and support us. We also work with businesses to put on fundraising events. We have lots of sports-based events including six-aside and touch rugby competitions as well as a biking event harvest tour to raise funds. I would encourage people to join these events, they are all accessible via our website. 

What changes would you like to see in the drinks industry that could benefit the people who work within it? 

The knowledge of well-being in the workplace is becoming universal and that is something we would champion more widely.  

Find out more about The Drinks Trust

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