So why don’t more people approach the fund?
For some, they are just not aware that the support exists. For others they are aware, but assume that it is not for people like them. For some, it takes someone to directly mention the fund to them to re-trigger awareness in their consciousness and then to approach for support.
There is also a stigma in asking for help and this is a barrier that we are actively looking to break down by emphasising the confidentiality of support. Staff are friendly, approachable and professional, and their prime concern is to ensure that a member finds the help they need, whether that’s financial support from the fund, exploring state support available, and by sign-posting to other specialist advisors and charities that are best placed to help.
Keeping services relevant
In the last few years we have significantly increased the support available, introducing new services, in order to ensure we remain relevant to our current community of chemists.
We introduced a legal helpline which helps support members understand their legal position and specialist advisors provide information on how to approach legal concerns. This could be on a wide range of issues such as employment, property, and family law.
We’ve introduced wellbeing support, such as short-term counselling sessions which can cover a range of issues such as anxiety or bereavement.
We have also introduced training grants. These are designed to help individuals where retraining in another field, or up-skilling, will help support employment prospects for those whose income is low or at risk.
The support families need when facing difficult circumstances can be other than financial. For many, it is the emotional support that is needed. The Chemists’ Community Fund has a network of volunteers, that support with visits to people who are isolated, want someone to talk to, perhaps just wishing to stay in touch with chemistry.
In June we held our biennial volunteer conference. We had two invited speakers, from Cruse bereavement charity, and from the Alzheimer’s Society. Both speakers provided informative and practical advice on coping mechanisms and supporting people affected. One of our volunteers reflected after the conference:
I derived at lot of benefit from it and I wish I had had the benefit of the knowledge and the wisdom it generates years back.
Such feedback is invaluable in understanding how we can develop the services and information available to members more widely in the future.
We are committed to ensuring that as many members as possible understand the breadth of support available through the fund and turn to us when in need.
The speaker from Cruse commented on the strong sense of community he observed at the conference, and this is something we want to build on. For many chemists there is a strong overlap between personal and professional networks. If you are aware of a colleague, ex-colleague, or friend, who might benefit from support, then please remember to mention the Chemists’ Community Fund, if they are a member.
Finally, the support extends to the spouses, partners, or dependents of members who pass away – so remember to raise awareness among your own family as well.