The work of SWBT
Last year the Social Workers Benevolent Trust (SWBT) was 50 years old, making it 5 decades of supporting current and former social workers; and their dependents who are experiencing financial hardship. SWBT is the only charity of its kind in the UK.
To celebrate the Anniversary, the trustees, committed to raise the trusts profile and some additional funding by participating during the year with a series of activities which we termed 50-4-50 when we had been seeking individual and organisational sponsors for 50 activities such as running; walking; cycling and even knitting.
The trust which was established by bringing together the benevolent funds of the agencies that amalgamated to form the British Association of Social Workers makes small grants to assist with specific needs to those qualified social workers who demonstrate that they are suffering financial hardship.
It might help everyone to understand the type of applications for grants that we can get and give support to. Here are a few anonymised cases:
Application example 1: Amy, a social worker with 7 years’ experience, had suffered a stroke resulting in a loss of mobility, exhaustion, and communication difficulties. Unable to work this mother of 2 is reliant on her husband to care for both her and their children. He too has had to give up his job and now they are on benefits with all their savings spent. The trust was able to give a small grant to this family.
Application example 2: Noel a 59 year old social worker, has had his hours reduced due to Covid and has used up his savings with outgoings higher than his incomings has been paying a high rent as it should have included the electric but the electric supplier is unable to identify payments being made. The trust awarded him £500.
Application example 3: Barbara, a Social Worker, married and both she and her husband Bob are disabled, and whilst Barbara is still working she has had to reduce her hours in order to cope with her disability. Barbara’s husband is hoping to return to work in the future once he is fully recovered from a recent operation. The reduction in pay that the couple have received both for Barbara’s reduced hours and Bob’s sick leave, has meant that the couple have fallen into debt with their rent and utilities. Barbara’s application asked for monies to help with their debts, and to pay for repairs to their car so that once Bob is recovered, he can return to work. Once again after consideration the trustees were able to award the maximum amount given from the charity’s funds. The trust is unable to meet the worrying amount of debt accrued in examples such as this and in many other similar cases. The trust has noticed that many applicants leave it until their debts have built up so much that it is hard to see a way forwards, some apply for bankruptcy fees as they have sought financial help and the advice they have received is to go bankrupt in order to start afresh. We would urge anyone struggling to seek help at the earliest.
We are supporting your social work friends and colleagues who cannot give their best in their work if they are in real debt themselves or facing eviction, bankruptcy or cannot afford to run their car; or suffering with their physical or mental health; or themselves are carers of children with disabilities; or carers of their family members. The pandemic too has had its toll on social workers, with key workers not always having support to care for their children; from grandparents who usually care for children who are pre-school; or in school holidays not being available; or parents needing to do home schooling and reducing their hours to enable this.
As well as celebrations for our 50th SWBT trustees have worked hard in a number of areas for example; we have now in place the first Memorandum of Understanding with BASW; worked on our Deeds of Trust to enable us to increase the number of Trustees, in an effort to improve our diversity and to share the workload; and have interviewed and appointed more trustees; we have reviewed and improved our policies and procedures and we have updated our web site. All this on top of a fluctuating number of applications e.g. 2018/19 = 204 applications, 2019/20 = 196, and 2020/21 = 174.
As a charity we are of course grateful for the support we receive from BASW for administrative support and from members of BASW for their contributions to the funds; to the Civil Servants Insurance Society for their most generous donations; and to everyone who had made donations in whatever form they have been delivered. I as Co-Chair wish to thank all the trustees who of course give their time voluntarily.