GroceryAid, the trading name of the National Grocers’ Benevolent Fund, has revealed that more than 14,000 people turned to them for assistance in the 12 months ending 31 March 2017.

Compared to last year, the figure rose by 27%, while welfare also grew to £4.5m and 58% of those supported by the charity were of working age. GroceryAid also saw a 17% increase in the number of people enrolled onto the Carers Programme, which now stands at almost 700 grocery colleagues.

Steve Barnes, chief executive of GroceryAid, said the company was proud to support so many people, but added that it marked an escalation in the numbers needing assistance.

“Now, more than ever, we need our industry to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues who need help,” Barnes said.

Barnes also paid tribute to the “outstanding support” of the charity’s 362 volunteers, while Ruston Smith, chairman of trustees acknowledged the “exceptional work of volunteers up and down the country”.