I had been thinking of how to support the RSC when an e-mail arrived stating that there was a shortage of volunteers in my region.
I joined the team after the focused training and guidance from the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Benevolent Fund advisors. Quietly supporting the central fund team and the RSC that has, and is, supporting our colleague chemists and their families when needed, is very rewarding. Those supported feel that they are not alone in times of difficulty and their society is prepared to listen and give assistance if appropriate.
I became a Chemist's Community Fund volunteer in 1994. I had served on the Kent Local Section committee for the past ten years and we received reports from our Benevolent Fund co-ordinator at each committee meeting. My work for the fund has served to keep me in touch with chemists and chemistry during my retirement years. I enjoy working with like-minded colleagues and making new contacts through sending the Christmas cards. The care that our society has for the welfare of its members, particularly for those who are older, isolated or just less fortunate than most of us, is one of its strengths and it is very rewarding for me to be involved with that side of our work.
In the past 22 years I have encountered many people who have been so grateful for the work we do, members and relatives, some just pleased to have a visit or to talk on the telephone, others requiring much more serious help.
As members of the Royal Society of Chemistry we are what could in simpler terms be called, "a family”. Hence, all members should be aware that there is a need to care for each other in many different ways. This could be by being active on committees, holding office, participating in meetings and so on. But there are those that for one reason or another are missing out and it is our duty and, hopefully, our pleasure to provide a means of keeping in touch with those in such situations. That is why I became a volunteer; I wanted to be a link between the society and any members not able to have the benefits that I enjoy.
I joined my local committee as an ordinary member when there was no Benevolent Fund representative at the time. Having volunteered to take on this role, it made sense for me to become a volunteer at the same time. I was quite busy initially, visiting members and helping them complete the application form. This was very rewarding, especially when the Benevolent Fund was able to respond to their requests for help. While the demand for assistance has fallen recently, you know that you and other volunteers are ready to respond whenever the need arises.
I wanted to give something back to the profession that provided me with a successful career for over 30 years. I realise how lucky I am to have done well in my chosen career, whilst others may, for a number of reasons, not have been able to prosper.
I’d like to think that those we support appreciate being given help by those who understand the career they have chosen, rather than from someone unconnected to the profession. If nothing else, it gives a point of common interest from which to start talking!
I was approached over 20 years ago whilst I was still working at Pfizer and felt that the role of Chemists’ Community Fund volunteer could potentially be of huge benefit to a small number of individuals. I also wanted to put something back into chemistry.
I like the idea that I represent part of the RSC which acts as a safety net and advice centre for those members and their dependants for whom things have become difficult. I also benefit from regional interactions with other volunteers, with the other retired members in my area and, though the circumstances can be difficult, with beneficiaries of the fund.
I would hope that members have a sense of comfort from knowing that the Chemists’ Community Fund is there as a ‘safety blanket’ for them should times get tough, in whatever way that happens for them.
Our Chemists’ Community Fund offers careers support, counselling and health advice, legal services, financial support and information, as well as social visits from our volunteers.