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Help save the ICE Benevolent Fund: an appeal from ICE President Peter Hansford

The ICE Benevolent Fund helps civil engineers who finds themselves in difficulty. Funds are falling, and ICE President Peter Hansford explains why he needs your help.

I’ve seen at first hand the difference the ICE’s Benevolent Fund support has made to civil engineers and their families.

It is very humbling to witness the trauma and worry that some people have to face. Anyone, at any time, can face a tragic
accident or be struck down by a life threatening illness.

It happens all the time to “other” people, but the reality is of course, that one day that person could be me, or my wife or children.

But as well as supporting those facing serious illness or distress, more and more the Benevolent Fund services are also needed by ICE members who are in financial difficulties because of redundancy or lack of opportunities in the profession.

As patron of the Fund, I was alarmed to find out that the Fund’s capital is eroding.The number of donors is falling (and has done so since 2006). Yet the number of individuals requiring financial assistance from the Fund continues to rise, with a 60% increase in applications.

This means the Fund is eating into reserves to support those seeking help – to the tune of an average £250,000 a year.

“The Fund is eating into reserves to support those seeking help – to the tune of an average £250,000 a year”

This has been happening for the past nine years, which is clearly not sustainable.

I know the Trustees are making every effort to make sure that running costs are kept to an absolute minimum. The Fund is run with the equivalent of only 3 full time staff members – fewer than any other Fund with the same workload in the property and construction sector. But the fact still remains that with demand for the Fund’s services increasing so dramatically and donations consistently falling, the Fund is struggling to keep up.

May I therefore urge every ICE member to consider if they can donate a regular annual contribution of £5 to help sustain the Fund – this equates to just £200 over a 40-year working life.

And for those of us that are working, maybe could we do a bit more and donate £10 or £15 a year to help our fellow civil engineers and their families.
The Benevolent Fund is enormously grateful for each and every donation, but what we really need is for ICE members to make a regular, annual contribution.

It is easier than ever to donate, either by making the payment with your ICE subscription or by visiting Here you can either set up a standing order or click on the “donate now” button to make a donation through online charity donation site Just Giving.

A standing order is the most cost effective way for the Fund, but donating through Just Giving is still cheaper for the Fund than donating by credit card or cheque.

Please commit to giving a regular annual donation of at least £5 so that the Fund can continue to help members and their dependants when they need it most.

The Fund’s services

  • Financial help for those unable to make ends meet and on low incomes
  • 24-hour free helpline covering a range of subjects such as stress, bereavement, debt, accident, illness and health problems
  • For civil engineers struggling to meet financial commitments – the opportunity to benefit from a free financial health check from an appropriately qualified individual
  • Access to the Fund’s back to work programme – a free course designed to assist those out of work, and to increase their marketability and improve job prospects
  • Help for disadvantaged ICE students who may be unable to complete their studies because of financial difficulties

Readers' comments (3)

  • 1. Why, if this situation has been apparent for 9 years has nothing been done sooner?
    2. Why have the trustees not given earlier warning of the situation and, if they did, why were members not so advised?
    3. Why has the annual donation not been linked to inflation, RPI or some other suitable index?

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  • No

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  • Christopher Sullivan

    The problem of falling funds for the Ben Fund I am guessing coincided with asking for too much from each member/year. When faced with a request for only £5 for the Benevolent Fund each year most members will donate, when faced with 3 requests for £5, for Research and Development Fund, Quest Appeal and Ben Fund simultaneaously, many will be turned off donating anything and vote with their feet as what they feel is the cheek of being tapped for more money. It is human nature to give a little but to stop when feeling pressured to give more than you are comfortable to give. Does anyone agree I wonder?
    P.S. I gave to the Ben fund as always, not the others they should come out of subs. However a recent email on Gift Aid showed I hadnt given to Ben fund either, not a good feeling.

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