Being a Trustee

ladies in a meeting

Being a Trustee

The TUC has just released its Work Intensification study. It has found that 55% of workers believe that work has become more intense and demanding with less time for their private lives and three out of five workers feel exhausted at the end of the working day. Whilst the study was carried out across the national workforce as a whole, I am sure that many social workers will identify with the TUC’s findings.

Stresses amongst professionals are not always talked about and not always recognised. As trustees of the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust (SWBT) we are tasked with supporting qualified social workers and their dependents in times of hardship. We hope that you might be able to help us too.

After over a dozen years of austerity you will be working every day with people struggling to make ends meet. Possibly you and your fellow professionals are facing financial challenges on top of everything you do at work.

Recently we helped Richard, who had just retired, to purchase a new boiler. A private person, he probably hadn’t told his workmates that he was the main carer for his mother and that they were very anxious about how they would afford to pay for repairs to their house.

The Trust made a grant to Precious for children’s clothing and bunk beds. Her partner does not have permission to work or receive benefits in the UK and could be deported back to Africa.

Covid has intensified many social workers’ money worries. A grant was made to Amy whose husband, a self-employed carpenter, was unable to work during the pandemic. Their family debts were increasing monthly.

A number of applicants have suffered domestic abuse and death threats and been forced to flee violent partners. We have been able to provide some with grants for basic furnishings or help with emergency relocation costs.

The SWBT was set up in 1971 and has helped hundreds of professionals. The bulk of our funding comes from BASW. The Trust meets six times a year and considers 70 to 80 applications each time. In 2021-22 we made 243 grants to qualified social workers averaging £461 each. Because of the increasing demands on our resources we have had to limit the size of our grants to £400. We now assist twice the number of people we did ten years ago and give out nearly four times the amount we did then.

Social workers perform a vital, often unrecognised role amongst the most vulnerable in our society. We are much maligned and easy targets for criticism from the media. As trustees we are asking you to help us to help our colleagues when they are faced with financial difficulties.

The Trust would like to continue helping people living with financial hardship. We cannot pay off all the debts that some have acquired and we cannot supplement their income. However, from feedback we have learnt that our grants are greatly appreciated and give workers the feeling that the profession does care for its own.

Some social workers make one-off donations to the Trust. Others make regular monthly or annual gifts. One or two have very generously left the profession a legacy in their wills. Any contributions will go straight towards supporting those qualified workers to manage their financial difficulties. As a charity we have very low running expenses as all the trustees are volunteers and the admin costs are covered
by BASW.

If you are able to make a contribution, however small, please do so. The details of how to do this can be found on the How to Donate page.

Mike Young
SWBT Trustee
26th July 2023
(On behalf of the Trustees of the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust)