ICE President Geoff French has appealed to members to support the ICE Benevolent Fund, which helps current and past members during times of extreme personal and financial hardship.
His appeal comes as the charity celebrates its 150th anniversary.
Since its creation in 1864, the charity has helped over 30,000 people in great need.
The fund’s over-arching vision is for all ICE members and their families to have access to support in times of hardship, and for civil engineers to have a lifetime of opportunities to develop the skills and tools they need to reach their full potential.
The fund’s support package includes outplacement and career support for ICE members who are made redundant or lose their jobs, workshop programmes on financial planning and debt and personal resilience and stress, and pre-retirement support for those who are facing the opportunities and challenges of finishing work.
In addition, the fund offers members a 24-hour free telephone advice line and an online portal of self-help services, globally in 14 different languages.
As demand continues to grow, French wants ICE members to consider giving their time or money to help the charity continue its work.
All offers of help are welcome, no matter how big or small. Members can pledge their support by offering a small financial donation or by volunteering time to the fund’s befriending scheme.
Donations can be given on a monthly or one off basis and - as with all charitable donations - are eligible for Gift Aid.
French is encouraging all members to give money to the cause, as all donations will allow the fund to extend its financial support and outreach to those in distress.
In addition, he is encouraging more members to consider volunteering as a Benevolent Fund Visitor.
Visitors are widely considered to be the back bone of the fund’s operation and offer comfort to individuals and families in need.
Members with strong inter-personal skills are in particular demand.
“I’ve heard a number of truly inspirational stories on how the Benevolent Fund has supported ICE members, all of which demonstrate how vital its services are,” said French.
“Hopefully, none of us will have to go through such trying times, but if we do we can be assured that the Benevolent Fund will be there to help us.
“In 2014, the Benevolent Fund proudly entered its 150th year of delivering these vital services. Unfortunately, the demand increases every year and even though measures have been introduced to increase income, the fund is still reliant on the continued generosity from its valued supporters,” he added.
“If you can make a donation to the appeal, no matter of its size, the fund can continue to help those in need.”
- If you would like to give time or money to support the Benevolent Fund visit www.bfice.org.uk or telephone 01444 417979.
Case study: “Julie”
Julie’s family turned to the Benevolent Fund in 2009 when husband “Simon” received the devastating news that he had lost his battle with ear and throat cancer. A Fund visitor helped Julie research additional cancer services and helped manage the emotional strain.
“On learning about his illness, Simon had a great deal of emotional turmoil, confusion and anger to contend with,” said Julie. “We all did. How would the family cope without him? What treatments would he have to face? How could we explain to our children, who aged just 4, 9 and 12, would have their own fears concerning their dad?
“So we turned to the Benevolent Fund for help.
“The fund has been with us from these early stages. The local Benevolent Fund visitor provided much needed emotional support to us all, as well as advice, signposting to other cancer charities and information on numerous topics that helped us as a family to cope and understand.
“But after years of courageous battling, my Simon died peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends, in December 2013.
“At a time of extraordinary sadness, confusion and pain, but also at a time to reflect and celebrate life, my family and I could not have come through it without the support we received from the Benevolent Fund. They were there for us and they will be there for you. Please use them, value them, and support them.”
Case study: Tony Nicklinson
Tony Nicklinson - who famously fought for the right to die - also turned to the Benevolent Fund before his death in 2013.
In his early fifties, married and with two young daughters, Tony was working as a project manager overseas.
While abroad, he had a massive stroke when he was 51. This left him with “locked in syndrome” - permanent paralysis - an irreversible condition which he had for the rest of his life, with no hope of improvement. As he was completely paralysed, he used an eye blinking technique to communicate.
His daughters are grown up now, but the Benevolent Fund partially supported them at university after the family returned to the UK following Tony’s stroke. The fund give the family a monthly grant to help them make ends meet, and the local visitor become a real support.
Here is what Tony said about how the fund helped support him and his family before he died in 2013.
“The ICE Benevolent Fund has been a godsend to us all. Life has not turned out as we expected and the financial help has made such a difference to us; not actually sure how we would cope without it. I know that there is always someone I can talk to if needed. The Benevolent Fund visitor comes and sees that we are all OK - I feel that someone cares, which is such a comfort during these very trying times.”
- In 2014, the ICE Benevolent Fund celebrates its 150th anniversary
- Established in 1864, the Benevolent Fund has helped over 30,000 people to date
- In 2013 alone the Fund supported 400 families and spent nearly £900,000 supporting those in need in our industry