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15 July 2021

Helping Hospitality: an update on the donations made to hospitality charities in Scotland

We checked in with the two charities in Scotland who each received a donation of £25,000 last year on behalf of the Scotch Whisky industry.

At the end of 2020, the Scottish Licensed Trade Benevolent Society (The BEN) and the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) were the beneficiaries of donations made by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) on behalf of all its members.  Each charity received £25,000 to support their aims, and six months on, we checked back in with them to see how the funds had been used to help support the hospitality industry and its workforce.

HIT Scotland

HIT Scotland works to inspire and support the hospitality industry through scholarship experiences for individuals working in the sector.

The SWA’s donation was used to continue to deliver the charity’s Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme - a scholarship programme for the hospitality industry, and the largest online development programme ever seen in the hospitality industry in Scotland. This virtual programme was one of the key recommendations of the Tourism Task Force which provided independent recommendations for Scottish Ministers and the UK Government on the essential actions to support tourism and hospitality recovery in Scotland. The aim was to provide new skills, insights, tools and techniques, to allow employees to get the best performance from themselves and the rest of their team.

Applications came from over 700 tourism and hospitality businesses from across Scotland, and 2000 people were offered a place. This was the largest mobilisation of this type of development ever seen in Scotland, and feedback has shown that this programme has been a hugely positive development experience for the industry, with 90% saying they believe their ability to lead, influence and support others has improved.

David Cochrane, Chief Executive of HIT Scotland said: “The fantastic donation from Scotch Whisky Association at the end of 2020 has helped enable us to continue to deliver a scholarship programme for the industry, through the largest online development programme ever seen in our industry in Scotland - the Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme.  On behalf of the 2000 people who took part, who now have the indispensable people management skills to take our industry forward, thank you!”

Learn more about HIT Scotland here.


The BEN is a charity based in Glasgow which also received a donation of £25,000 at the end of 2020 on behalf of the Scotch Whisky industry. The BEN provides a dedicated service to support those working in Scotland’s hospitality industry, many of whom have been affected in the past year by closures of bars, pubs and restaurants. The BEN offers guidance for hospitality workers on how to access additional financial support as they wait for wages or universal credit, and with securing accommodation and provisions when necessary. It also supports those finding new employment, helping to fund travel, uniform costs and pre-payday living expenses.

The past year has seen an increase in new applications for help and support to the BEN, and the Scotch Whisky industry’s donation has predominantly been used to help younger people, who make up a significant proportion of hospitality workers in Scotland, and who have been impacted by loss of income, including tips, which for many were a valuable addition to wages.

Chris Gardner, Chief Executive of the BEN, said: “We are so appreciative of the Scotch Whisky Association’s donation on behalf of the industry, which has made a real difference to hospitality staff who continue to need support even as lockdown eases. The BEN is a small team, but we try to treat everyone as a human being when they come to us at their most vulnerable. We’ve seen a huge increase in applications for help over the past year, and that’s set to continue in the coming months as the hospitality industry continues to be affected by Covid-19 restrictions and closures. Donations from individuals and organisations – like the one from the SWA – help us to focus on the work we need to do, and to give the most support we can to help people get back on their feet.”

Learn more about the BEN here.