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CSP Members Benevolent Fund: 100 not out

As the CSP Members Benevolent Fund celebrates its centenary this year, its trustees unveil exciting plans to help members stay afloat in challenging times. Graham Clews reports.

Helping hand 100 not out
At 100 years old the CSP Members Benevolent Fund (MBF) is celebrating as it began life – by looking forward.  As it enters its second century, the fund, which helps CSP members in financial difficulty, is planning to kick off a preventive programme designed to minimise the number of members likely to need the fund’s support.
 
Free financial workshops will be held around the country to encourage members to make realistic and effective financial plans for their future, and to teach them how to do it.  From managing income and outgoings, to setting up financial protection and pensions, the sessions should provide the vital know-how that could stop bad luck turning into disaster.
 
MBF chair Dorothy Toyn says the objectives of the fund remain exactly the same now as when it was established during the First World War, but the trustees are keen to provide even greater support for physios as the world develops into this century. In 2000, some 40 CSP members were receiving help at any one time from the MBF, with around 10 new applicants each year.
 
Now there are over 25 new applications annually with about 60 members receiving on-going assistance.
 
Another significant change over time has been the profile of CSP members needing help.  Until the late 1990s, most applicants were 60 or over, but in 2016, the majority were in their 30s and 40s, with less than 20 per cent aged over 60.
 
The most common reason given for applying for help last year, besides illness, was family breakdown. ‘There are also more and more people going into private practice these days, and if someone plays football at the weekend and breaks their leg they may have no means of income and no sick pay because they are working for themselves,’ says Ms Toyn. ‘There are also much higher levels of personal debt around, and if something goes wrong people just can’t manage the repayments. 
 
‘What we want to do is improve financial awareness among members and just encourage members to think a little bit more about how they are managing their money rather than spending it as soon as it comes in, or even before it comes in.’
 
After four pilot financial workshops the fund will analyse members’ reactions and decide how to take the programme on.  Ms Toyn says it hopes to add other workshops on retirement preparation and stress management, and ultimately make the sessions available online on demand. ‘This is the vision for 100 years onward,’ she says.
 
As part of the MBF’s centenary celebrations it is asking 100 CSP members, or groups of members, to raise £100 during its centenary year.  If the Centenary Challenge succeeds, it will raise £10,000, which will be ring-fenced in a centenary fund to run the planned programme of financial workshops into the future.  

CSP member Leah Dalby describes how the MBF helped her put her life back on track

‘The MBF supported me at a very low point in my life. I will remember their kindness and belief in me forever.
 
‘When I trained as a physio over 30 years ago I never imagined that 20-plus years later I would be a single parent, afraid to go to sleep at night, and desperate to pay the mortgage.
 
‘As well as working as hard as possible and spending as little as possible, I applied to many grant-making trusts to ask for help.  The MBF was the only body that believed my application and supported me – and therefore us. 
 
‘One of the children needed particular educational support and at least one functioning parent, so locum work and regular employment were not an option. The MBF paid my CSP subscription for a year and sent 12 monthly allowances while I got my own practice (Lune Valley Physiotherapy, near Lancaster) off the ground. 
 
‘The money and subscription were enormously helpful, but looking back, and at the time, what moved and upheld me most was that colleagues that I had never known were prepared to stand beside us as we struggled to survive and stay together as a family.
 
‘Thank you to anyone who has contributed to the MBF.  Your gift may have helped us eat and keep warm. It has been shocking and enlightening to see how close to being homeless a family with professional parents can be.
 
‘Please consider supporting the MBF, today, when you can or in your will.  If you would like to support MBF, do it now! You might be busy later!’ 

CSP member Susan Hoyle was helped by the MBF when she fell ill

‘A few years ago everything in my life was going well. I was very fit and enjoying life working as a Band 5 physio in a busy musculoskeletal setting, at Wimborne Hospital in Dorset.  Then suddenly I found myself in a situation that was to change my life forever. 
 
‘In and out of hospital for over a year, I was finally diagnosed with a rare progressive illness.  My entire world was turned upside down and I had to retire on grounds of ill-health, which was devastating.  I was put in contact with the MBF team by my manager. 
 
‘Trying to explain my situation over the phone was so difficult but the person I spoke to was so patient, so kind and reassuring and they gave me lots of information and told me to put in an application.
 
‘This I did and I was granted some financial assistance that enabled me to purchase vital equipment and access services to help me to stay as safe and independent as possible within my own home. 
 
‘More reassuring to me, I was given a contact person within the fund and suddenly I did not feel lost any more.  Knowing that someone is there for you is reassuring when you find yourself in times of need and it helped to give me confidence, strength and focus when everything else in my life was being turned upside down.
 
‘The experts treating my illness are based in London, which is 350 miles from where I live.  It’s a daunting journey to make on a regular basis when you’re unwell and struggling.  I was so surprised when my contact at the MBF got in touch and offered to visit me while I was in hospital. 
 
‘To finally be able to put a face to a name of who was helping me and to be able to say thank you in person meant so much.
 
‘The team have followed my difficult journey and have remained in regular contact with me; even visiting me at my home.  But more importantly to me they have been a friend.  I can’t put into words how much I appreciate everything they have done for me.’ fl 

More information

To obtain application forms and information or make donations, contact mbf@csp.org.uk or from MBF administrator Simone Tomlinson. Tel 020 7306 6168.  Donations can also be made here.

History of the MBF

August 1914: At the outbreak of the first world war, aristocrat Almeric Paget founded a corps of 50 trained masseuses to work for the British War Office at military hospitals around Britain.
 
January 1917: Massage Corps members were allowed to volunteer to work overseas. Fifty six members initially went to work at British Army hospitals in Italy and France.
 
January 1917: The (then) Society of Trained Masseuses Members’ Benevolent Fund was created to support massage corps members in particular who had been affected by the war. 
 
January 1919: The Almeric Paget Corps was decommissioned when a formal Military Massage Service was formed.
 
December 1925: The MBF gained charitable status when the first trust deed was issued.
 
November 1995: The trust deed was updated for the first time since 1925.
 
February 2015: A new charity scheme (governing who could be assisted) and a charity schedule (stating how they could be assisted) was agreed with the Charity Commission.
 

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Article Information

Author(s)

Graham Clews

Issue date

1 March 2017

Volume number

23

Issue number

05
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