How the Chemists’ Community Fund helped members in 2022
What is the Chemists’ Community Fund?
The Chemists’ Community Fund’s (CCF) primary charitable purpose is the relief and prevention of poverty for members or past members of the RSC, as well as support for their partners, children, and other dependents.
If the funds are not all needed for this primary object, then support can be directed to meet the needs of a wider community, to support those in hardship and for other charitable purposes, under its secondary object.
The generosity of our community under the ethos of members supporting members, and subsequent investment growth, has put the CCF in a strong financial position with CCF reserves in January 2022 of £17.5m.
New CCF strategy 2022 – 2025
In developing a new strategy, we have looked back on the significant challenges of the last few years, how the CCF has responded, and the impact this has had. The most significant developments have been our prioritisation and rapid response to COVID-19, utilising the Secondary Purpose to increase and widen our charitable impact, introducing new grants and services including our Wellbeing and Listening Service, and shifting much of our workshop engagement online.
Our community’s positive response and reaction to these changes have given us a strong sense of our community’s values and has given us a clear sense of direction for our future. We have seen the importance of having strategic frameworks and principles to work from, whilst being flexible and agile to refocus and adapt to rapidly changing community needs.
The new strategy for the Chemists’ Community Fund for 2022 – 2025 builds on all we have learnt. It draws on data and insights from the emerging needs of those approaching the CCF for support and the wider membership. It is also the result of discussions with past and current Chemists’ Community Fund Committee (CCFC) members, and input from our community and RSC colleagues.
Most importantly, the new CCF strategy was written against the backdrop of the ongoing impact of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the rising cost of living. All of which will continue to affect our diverse and global community in different ways and to different degrees.
The strategy sets out our strategic mission for our Primary Purpose to:
- provide timely, relevant, and meaningful support to eligible beneficiaries – to minimise and prevent the impacts of hardship and poverty with a focus on holistic support and overall wellbeing.
And for as long as funds and resources allow our Secondary Purpose:
- to scale our support for the chemistry community, prioritising those in need where we can have most impact.
Our key Primary Purpose strategic aims are to maintain our agility of response, increasing CCF relevance to our community and continuing to raise awareness of the holistic and timely support available to individuals. These are our priorities. The agreed strategy to use additional funds via the Secondary Object enables us to make a difference to a wider group of people, helping those who face difficult circumstances to reach their potential in chemistry.
Putting our strategy in action, we undertook a review of our eligibility criteria and grant levels early in summer 2022, outside of our normal review cycle, to respond quickly to the rapidly increasing costs of living. As a result, more people immediately became eligible for support, and our grant levels were increased to ensure support remained meaningful.
Across all CCF initiatives we have continued to maximise the benefits of the CCF’s links to the RSC, particularly the in-depth expertise of the chemical science community and individual’s diverse needs.
Supporting RSC Members & their families
Many of our 364 new enquiries were due to increases in everyday costs of living, as well as those affected by the longer-term impacts of the pandemic, especially those who lost significant lab time and income during their PhD study.
For each member requesting support, a CCF Caseworker takes time to understand their personal situation and help them access both the financial and non-financial support and expertise they need. The value of this holistic support cannot be measured solely in financial terms and numbers. This is best demonstrated via examples of direct feedback our caseworkers receive:
I want to sincerely thank you for standing by me and my family through these past few months when things were really difficult. I thank you for your moral support, encouragement, signposting me to important career consultation resources and for your financial support through the grants I was awarded that helped with my house rent and my family’s living cost.
We financially supported 94 members and their families via direct grants or paid for service referrals under our primary purpose. This included support to some of the members we proactively contacted who are living in countries impacted by war or extreme weather events.
I am really short of appropriate words to convey the depth of my appreciation, gratitude and thanks for this unusual and life-saving gesture from the Chemists’ Community Fund
Examples of support include:
- Assisting members who experienced a loss of income when unable to work due to ill health, accident or following surgery.
- Supporting with care home top up fees where they are not fully covered by state support.
- Providing support for members, and their families, due to war and conflict, specifically in Ukraine and Ethiopia.
- Help with relocation costs for those obtaining a new job after a period of unemployment, completion of their study, or needing to leave their country due to war.
- Supermarket vouchers to assist with immediate needs for food and essential household items.
- Emergency hotel accommodation to assist in averting unexpected homelessness.
- Vehicle and bicycle repairs to enable members to travel to work and maintain their employment.
- Retraining grants for unemployed members.
- A grant to replace a broken washing machine.
- Wellbeing, counselling and financial support for families experiencing bereavement.
- Referrals to our specialist state benefits and debt advice partner amassed a cumulative gain of £25,547 for our members.
- Holiday grants for those living on a low income, to enable a break away from home.
- Referrals to our legal advice partner for one off advice for property issues, employment contracts, pay disputes, redundancy agreements.
- Regular befriending calls from our dedicated volunteers to other members.
During a period where I had lost all momentum with my academic study and I was working a job I did not like, being able to speak with a volunteer who understood my journey was of great help.
We launched a new service offering support and information on the complexity of addiction and addictive behaviors. This is available for members and their partners, via a new confidential online platform, with onward access to specialist addiction counselling if it is needed.
1,050 people attended the 12 live online workshops, and the recordings of all workshops had a further 1,381 repeat or new views.
We introduced new topics to meet pervasive concerns. Workshops included:
- Helping with Debt
- Transforming Sleep
- Work Life Blend post pandemic
- Redundancy Support
- Student Finances
- Retirement Planning
The most popular workshops were Transforming Sleep with 241 attendees and Work Life Blend with 200 people joining the live session.
The online approach taken has seen average live attendance continue to grow this year.
The CCF supported the three RSC ChemCareers 2022 webinars: ‘Job searching and disability’.
Workshop comments included:
Another great webinar. All the CCF webinars are helping me, the trainers are extremely friendly and helpful.
Excellent presentation, thank you so much for such good content with lots of helpful tips & web links and communicating it all in a clear and accessible manner.
Well-presented and paced presentation covering all aspects of the topic. Thought provoking and hopefully helpful for sleeping.
Overall, in 2022, 1779 individuals directly received financial and / or specialist support from CCF.
Support under our Secondary purpose
We have again this year been in the fortunate position to be able to extend our CCF charitable support to a wider cohort of the community under our secondary purpose. Areas that we support align with ideas and feedback from the 2020 Member Survey on how the CCF should be developed. Developments also respond to more recent events, such as students impacted by the rising cost of living, as well as the war in Ukraine and other conflicts.
Aligned with our strategy, we often deliver these through funding partnerships with other specialist organisations and drawing on the expert teams in the RSC working across education, diversity, and careers. This enables us to scale activities efficiently without adversely impacting the ongoing casework under primary purpose.
New initiatives for 2022 include:
- Expansion of our hardship support to:
- All students on RSC accredited undergraduate degree courses in UK & ROI experiencing an unexpected change in personal circumstances.
- Refugee chemists engaged with the Council for at Risk Academics (cara).
- Socio Economic Role,to further understand access to chemistry and the progression of individuals in the chemical sciences from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Talent Foundry and RSC Education pilot project aimed at improving outcomes in chemistry education for under-served, economically disadvantaged students.
These initiatives run alongside those already introduced in previous years, including those described in last years’ report: such as funding a mentoring programme for Black and Minority Ethnic students, providing Grants for Carers and Accessibility Grants, Outreach grants targeted to enable direct delivery to underserved groups, and grants to facilitate returners to work following a career break.
CCF awarded £468,158.64 in grants in 2022.
The CCF in numbers
- 1779 people and their families received support from the Fund under our primary purpose in 2022
- 364 new enquiries for help and support
- 110 calls to our new Wellbeing and Listening Service
- 1,050 people attended a Fund workshop
- 241 members attended an online workshop on Transforming Sleep
- £6,100 highest grant
- £44 lowest grant
- 110 individual counselling sessions funded
- 59 members were proactively contacted in Ukraine following the outbreak of war to remind them of CCF support
- 117 members directly contacted following severe weather events around the world to remind them of CCF support
- 17 volunteer visits or phone calls took place to support members
- 10 members regularly receive an accessible Talking Chemistry World
- 88 Fund volunteers
We are truly grateful and will forever remain grateful for your kind intervention. Thank you.
If you, your partner or family need support for any of life's challenges, as an RSC Member the Chemists' Community Fund is here for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. Contact us.
The Chemists’ Community Fund (CCF), the working name of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Benevolent Fund, is a linked charity to the RSC.