Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Benevolent Fund ensures help is at hand


The ASCL Benevolent Fund is available to help members in need, regardless of age or illness, says John Sutton.

Leonard had been a highly successful and respected deputy head, but, in his early 50s, he felt that his performance no longer matched the high standards he had set for himself. Accordingly, he first reverted to classroom teaching and then, when he felt no better, he retired on an actuarially reduced pension.

During the following two years, his condition worsened and he was diagnosed with the early onset of Alzheimer's. In retrospect, it seemed highly likely that his problems at school had been symptoms of the disease and that, had it been detected then, an ill-health pension would have been the appropriate option. Sadly, Teachers' Pensions do not act retrospectively and, in spite of ASCL's efforts on his behalf, no change could be made.

Meanwhile, Leonard's health deteriorated further. His wife, Mary, could no longer cope with his care and a was found for him in a specialist nursing home.

Unfortunately, this was more than 50 miles away, imposing heavy travelling costs on Mary and their sons. Although Mary had a job of her own, the financial burden added to the emotional stress made life very difficult.

It was at this stage that a former colleague alerted the trustees of the ASCL Benevolent Fund to the case. The fund's resources do not allow for the ongoing costs of residential care, but they do allow for a range of positive actions which can do much to help and support.

The Benevolent Fund gave two grants straight away to the family. The first was to defray travel costs and the second was to pay for a family holiday, which Mary had been unable to afford since Leonard became ill.

Then there was Leonard himself. His carers advised that regular physiotherapy, mainly massage, would help him to relax and make physical caring for him much less traumatic. The fund covered the cost.

As the illness progressed, it became more difficult to move Leonard at all, so the fund purchased a special chair to enable him to be lifted from bed and be moved about. The quality of Leonard's life has been much enhanced.

Mary recently wrote to the trustees to express her thanks: "You are an amazing group of people and you have made an enormous difference to our lives. With the chair and the physio, Leonard is happier and more comfortable, so we have better visits with him and can feel that all that can be done is being done."

Leonard and Mary are not their real names, but the rest of the story is entirely true.

Theirs is typical of the cases which come to the Benevolent Fund, but the help we give is only possible because ASCL members continue to support the Fund with regular contributions. The coming year is going to be a tough: the fall in interest rates will reduce our income from investments and we shall only be able to maintain the level of support if there is an increase in donations to cover the shortfall.

If you are not currently contributing, please contact the Membership Office at ASCL headquarters and arrange a regular payment, enhanced by Giftaid. If enough members chip in, just 5 a month will make a real difference. What happened to Leonard and Mary could happen to anyone and it is good to know that help is at hand when it does.

John Sutton is the ASCL Benevolent Fund Chair of Trustees

  • If you know of someone who is in need of help from the Benevolent Fund, please call ASCL on 0116 299 1122 or email registry@ascl.org.uk

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