BA Benevolent Fund
History and purpose
The BA Welfare & Benevolent Fund was formed in 1981, using the standard of the day (a Trust Deed) and was registered as a charity with the Charities Commission. Its Registered Charities Number is 282480. The Trust Deed declares the purpose of the Fund is to alleviate poverty, “in times of hardship”. The Trustees serve for a maximum of 12 years and use a set of guidelines to help applicants understand if they are able to make an application for assistance. These guidelines do not change significantly but the Trustees review them regularly to make sure they meet today’s needs, which may be quite different to those prevailing in 1981.
The original Trustees were formed from senior management from a number of BA departments. Several Directors were included, to show the importance placed on this new endeavour. BA contributed initial funds to get the charity started and over time the funds were increased through a number of policies (sales of lost baggage, staff car parking fines, etc.) A similar but much smaller fund, operated by the now defunct BA 25 Year Club, was merged into the BAW&B in 2008/9.
Today the Fund’s total assets exceed £3m, a capital growth that has been achieved in 40 years of sensible, ethical investments. CCLA manages our investment portfolio and has been our investment house for many years. The arrangement with CCLA provides flexibility so that we can move money between investments that grow the capital value (reinvestments) or those to provide our regular income. It is the income generating funds that enable us to meet our charitable objectives. Our finances are therefore strong and able to provide grant funds for many years to come.
How it works
Any serving member of staff and former employees, or in the case of the deceased their spouses, can make an application for help. The Admin Team (just 2 part time) will discuss their application and if it falls within the guidelines a Caseworker is assigned to visit the applicant to (a) help them complete the application form and undertake the necessary disclosures, financial or otherwise, and (b) validate the application is legitimate. Of necessity this process can be awkward for people, but it is a key stage that all applicants must go through, and one where the Caseworkers provide applicants with all the support needed to get them through it. Data privacy is, or course, of paramount importance throughout. Even the Trustees do not know the full personal details of applicants, they make their decision based on the individual facts and merits of each case.
The Trustees review cases every 2 months, and as long as all the information they need is available to them a quick decision can be made. It is rare for an application to reach this stage and be rejected, as long as it satisfies the general criteria needed.
Once the Trustees have made their decision the Admin Team carry out the relevant steps to fulfil the application, which may require them to liaise with third parties (builders, plumbers, consumer goods suppliers, etc.) It should be noted that payments are never made to the applicants themselves, only to the suppliers of the service or product that have been approved.
It is impossible to predict how many cases will be satisfied in any year, certainly the average year will have between 20 and 40. Grants too cannot be “averaged” because applications range across a wide spectrum of needs. These include fairly simple requests for help to replace appliances or furniture, or for redecorations, but may stretch for significant modifications to a home e.g. to convert a downstairs room into a bedroom when a disability has forced the owner to change their lifestyle. The Trustees often assist people who have suffered hardship when their partner has died, with a standard funeral grant, up to a set limit; or providing a period of respite care. The Trustees will consider most requests, but will not assist with clearing debts, or with any application that warrants ongoing support, or indeed those that are covered by the usual medical agencies like the NHS.
There is no slowing down of the number of cases being dealt with by this BA charity, and the Trustees are taking steps to modernise some aspects. The old name will soon be formally changed to “British Airways Benevolent Fund” to simplify it a little, the Trustees are moving away from the original Trust Deed on to a more modern structure, but still under the auspices of the Charity Commission. The Trustees understand the difficulties of keeping the lines of access to it open to all those in its remit to help, so the new website will help in this regard, as well as maintaining awareness through the BA intranet pages, and communications with BA Pensions, BA Clubs, trade unions, and so on.