Members of the Royal Society of Chemistry can apply for assistance, but we also know that not all chemists are members, and many are still in need of support. We responded to this need by launching our COVID-19 Hardship Grants on 5 June – these are one-off grants of £500 (or £250 for a student) to assist any chemist who is in immediate financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic.
By the end of July we had received 593 new enquiries from members and non-members combined, compared to 347 enquiries in the whole of 2019. The majority of these enquiries come from chemists in the UK, but we are able to support members in any country – this year we have provided financial support to members and their families in Australia, Egypt, France, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a great number of unexpected challenges for people. Many of our members – particularly students – became stranded overseas when countries went into lockdown. In the UK, students are unable to access the benefits system, and this has presented a perfect storm for those undertaking self-funded PhDs who may have lost their part time paying job. The loss of part time and summer jobs has also impacted undergraduate student members, while others have found that their families are no longer able to support them financially due to changes in their income. Some households have struggled with childcare, as shielding relatives became unable to help, while others have lost one or more sources of income.
The Fund can help members in ways you might not have imagined. Over the last few months we have replaced a broken fridge, bought tickets for repatriation flights, helped to cover unexpected accommodation costs and provided grants to assist families with food and everyday living expenses.
It’s not just financial support either. The Fund can offer counselling or legal advice, and can support with applying for benefits or finding sheltered housing. Not only that but they are always able to simply lend an ear and talk through any problems that you or your family are facing.
In addition to supporting people through the pandemic, we have been supporting our members with difficulties of every kind for the last 100 years. When there is a crisis – for example the recent explosion in Beirut or the wildfires in the USA – we reach out to the members in the affected country. And we are always here to help anyone who is facing difficult personal circumstances, whatever the reason.
Unfortunately, many people’s personal situations are likely to continue to be challenging, as we enter a global recession. Fortunately, the Fund is here to help. We can provide one-off grants or ongoing financial support for members, their partners and dependants. If your partner has lost their job, your child needs support with a disability, or you are in need of help to buy new school uniforms, you may be eligible for assistance from the Fund.
When you first contact the Fund you will be assigned a named caseworker and asked to fill in an application form. The caseworker will be your single point of contact throughout the process. They will get to know you, help you to assemble any evidence needed and guide you through our application processes.
The Fund keeps everything entirely confidential, so any information that you give us won’t be shared with other parts of the organisation.
Some of our members do not realise that, unlike many other types of grants and funds, the Fund is non-competitive. It is well-funded, as a result of 100 years of support from members, which means we are able to support anyone who is facing difficulties. Sometimes people contact the team for help and say "but I’m sure someone else is in greater need". We want our community to know that we are here to support anyone who needs it, no matter what the issue is, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I am immensely proud of all that our fund has done to support members of our community over many years. Thank you to all staff, committee members and volunteers, past and present. The work of the fund is incredibly important and it exists to support you and those you care about.
Find out more and apply for help
The Fund offers a completely confidential service. Please get in touch by phoning +44 (0)1223 432227, or by emailing us.
Or learn more on our webpage.