Financial despair is driving more and more teachers to turn to charity. NASUWT. Teacher redundancies, marital break-up and the rise of chronic illnesses such as ME are leading to increased demands on other teachers' benevolent funds.
Administrators of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers' head office benevolent fund met 222 requests for assistance last year.
Many of the calls for help were from members who had built up credit-card debts or found that they were no longer able to cope with housing costs. Some had obtained a better job in another area, but then found that they could not sell their house because of the moribund state of the property market. In all, loans amounting to Pounds 230,500 were provided for those suffering financial hardship.
Last year the fund, which has assets of nearly Pounds 1.3 million also paid out Pounds 113,300 in non-repayable grants to members and former members needing home conversions because of injury or disability.
One member with an inoperable spinal tumour received a building work grant of Pounds 9,000. "Other grants were much smaller - for example, one widow of a former member received Pounds 40 towards the cost of a new gas fire," an NASUWT spokesman said. "Ninety-seven beneficiaries of the fund also regularly receive grants for holidays and Christmas. They are mainly elderly teachers' widows who are unable to cope on their inadequate pensions."
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers' benevolent fund paid out Pounds 70,814 in grants and Pounds 10,040 in loans last year. The money was used to meet a huge range of needs, providing top-up grants for members and dependants living on state benefits, and defraying the cost of funerals and wheelchairs. An increasing proportion of the applications for help are, however, coming from younger teachers.
The same pattern has been discerned north of the border where the Educational Institute of Scotland made 62 grants totalling Pounds 48,266 in the year ending August 1994. "Many younger teachers are finding themselves in difficulties because they take on financial commitments and then find they cannot meet them - perhaps because of ill-health or because their marriage breaks up," an EIS spokesman said.
For further information on the benevolent funds telephone: NASUWT, 0121-453 6150; ATL, 0171-930 6441; EIS 0131-225 6244
Additional research:Maureen McTaggart