One the SWBT’s Co-Chairs, Su, made an effort to establish how long I’d been a Trustee. I hadn’t been keeping track of it, so it came as something as a surprise to find it was over 20 years! Perhaps it had been far too long but I don’t think so – as with the other Trustees over those years I was proud to have played my part serving the purposes of the Trust.
The Trust reached its 50th anniversary last year. It was invigorating to see how the Trust had needed to move with the times…and had done so with the strong motivational pull of its current leadership which allowed it to be reflective.
More sobering has been the level of demand for the grants the Trust can give. It has increased year on year, demonstrating the level of need that exists in our social work community. In a large part this has been due to the cumulative effect of government policy failing to effectively reward social workers for their work – as well as those who have had to resort to the benefits system. Thank goodness for the financial contributions that BASW members make to the Trust through their membership fees, along with the (currently) annual grant made by the Civil Service Insurance Society Charity Fund.
It hardly needs saying that any donations made to the Trust are greatly valued – especially by the recipients of the grants made by the Trust.
As demand grows the ‘pot’ of money available to meet that level of need largely tends to remain the same. It leaves Trustees with big dilemmas…..and considerable ongoing debate:
- Should they use money gained by selling our investments? There is income from the investments and eventually there would be little left.
- Should they try to find other sources? That’s certainly been tried and been successful, along with the efforts of individual Trustees.
- Should they restrict the amount on average each applicant can have? Some requests for grants are huge, showing the size of applicants’ personal problems in how to survive – and cannot be met other than in a minimal way. An equitable distribution of grants to applicants seems a fair way to distribute the grant money available.
- Should they set some additional criteria to decide who should be given a grant and who should not? This leads to discussion about who would be deemed to be the deserving and undeserving – a dilemma well known to social workers in their day to day working lives.
The Trustees have to soul-search about the way ahead as they have done over the decades.
This leads me to sign off with my own reflective mood. Glad to have been a Trustee. Glad to have met some wonderful people as Trustees on the way. Glad to have been a Co-Chair for a period. Glad of the support BASW staff (particularly the SWBT Administrator) and members have given in its various ways.