Ian is 37 and suffers from ME.
Despite gaining a first class honours degree in civil engineering and starting out on a good career, ill health has prevented him from working full time. He first received assistance from the Fund in August 1999 and gets a monthly grant. Ian moved to Mill Hill Close in December 1999. This is his story.
'I was in a real pickle. When the department at my firm closed down and I was made redundant, my illness made it very difficult to get a new job. I spent six months looking, living on incapacity benefits. With half of that going to service my graduate loan and other student debts, I was in real dire straits.
I stumbled on the Fund entirely by accident. I hadn't paid my ICE fees, and called up the membership department to explain the situation. It was they who told me about the Fund. I'd been paying into it for years, but I'd just assumed it was for people with other problems.
The Fund has improved my life dramatically. My largest worry was where I was going to live. I was temporarily house-sitting for friends at the time, and so it was brilliant to be offered the place in Mill Hill Close.
The Fund has paid off some of my debts, and my rent is paid for by Housing Benefit. I also get a monthly grant which makes all the difference - it lets me afford a few nights out or a new pair of shoes.
Having the security has enabled me to settle down, and that means my health has improved dramatically. Now I can work parttime, which allows me to live relatively well and I am now looking to get back into engineering - in fact I have three job interviews this week.
I love my engineering, and would be desperately sad to give it up. Without the Benevolent Fund I would have had little choice.'