During the period November 2013 to October 2014 the ATS & WRAC Benevolent Fund received 336 applications for assistance from former ATS and WRAC servicewomen and awarded just under £200,000 in grants. The oldest beneficiary was 97 and the youngest 41, and applications were received from as far afield as the USA, Canada, Zimbabwe, Jamaica and France.
...Many, many thanks for all your help with my boiler problem. I have not stopped smiling and how nice it was this morning to wake up to a house that is warm in every room. To not have to boil a kettle to take upstairs to have a wash, or to have to boil a kettle to wash my dishes. It was heaven and makes you appreciate the things we take for granted in life...
Mrs U, WRAC, awarded £784 towards a replacement central heating boiler.
Who is eligible for help?
Any former ATS or WRAC servicewoman, including TA, with one day's paid service or more is eligible for assistance.
...Miss V is literally 'over the moon'. It will enable her to maintain her independence and having just a bit more cash flow makes such a difference should a wee crisis occur - she now has peace of mind that she can cope. Miss V prides herself on keeping out of debt and this will ease what has been quite a struggle...
Miss V, WRAC, awarded £169 for a new mattress and a maintenance grant. SSAFA Caseworker's email.
Are there any other criteria?
Yes, you must be in need of financial help. There's also a limit on the amount of savings that you can have above which the Benevolent Fund is unable to make an award. To qualify for a maintenance grant you must be living alone on a basic state pension and in poor health.
How the ATS & WRAC Association Benevolent Fund can help...
The fund has helped with grants in a wide range of categories including:
• Bathroom adaptations
• House repairs and adaptations
• EPVs and electric wheelchairs
• Riser-recliner chairs
• Funeral expenses
• Priority debt
• Food vouchers
• Respite breaks
• Travel and transport
• Central heating/boilers
• TVs and TV licences
• White goods
• Removal expenses
• Rent, deposits and bonds
• Maintenance grants
• Care Home fee top-ups
Is there anything with which the ATS & WRAC Benevolent Fund cannot help?
The ATS & WRAC Association Benevolent Fund is unable to assist with clearing non-priority debt such as overdrafts, bank loans, credit card bills, HP payments; legal fees; or medical and dental procedures available via the NHS.
...I visited Mrs --- today and saw her new cooker installed. She is delighted and asked me to pass on her grateful thanks. Without your help she would never have been able to afford a new cooker and if you saw the state of the old one you would be amazed that it ever worked...
Mrs W, ATS, awarded £390 for a new cooker. SSAFA caseworker's email.
So how do you apply for help?
If you are a former ATS or WRAC regular or TA servicewoman who needs assistance, or if you know someone who is, then your first port of call is your local branch of SSAFA or regional Royal British Legion (RBL) office. SSAFA or the RBL will arrange for a trained caseworker to interview you in your home to establish the full range of assistance that you need. The caseworker will complete a report that includes details of your household income. This is called means-testing and ensures that your Benevolent Fund's charitable money goes to those in real need. When the report is complete it is sent to the Benevolent Fund Secretary. Once received, applications are considered at the appropriate grants committee meeting and a decision is taken.
...We would like to thank you for the help given to my mother towards a stair-lift. At 95 years of age I am sure you can appreciate that this has been a considerable help to her, helping her greatly in being able to look after herself. Also for myself and other members of her family as we no longer have to worry so much about her going upstairs...
Mrs X, ATS, awarded £500 towards a stair-lift.
How often do the grants committee meetings meet?
There are 2 types of grants committee meetings:
- Minor Grants Committee Meetings - held daily as required and can award immediate grants up to £1,000
- Major Grants Committee Meetings (MGCM) held at least once a month and can award grants up to the annual maximum of £3,000. The MGCMs also consider applications for care home fee top-up fees and maintenance grants, and for applicants with fewer than 6 months service.
...On behalf of my mother I would like to thank you very much for the financial support that you have given her in the past and for increasing this amount recently. Thanks to you and other organizations my mother, 92, is extremely well looked after by caring staff in very pleasant and comfortable surroundings...'
Mrs Y, ATS, £32.70 per week towards her care home fee top-up.
What happens next?
When a grant is awarded it is paid by digital bank transfer to either SSAFA or the RBL rather than direct to an applicant. This means that SSAFA or the RBL receive the grant immediately and are able to ensure that it is used for the specific purpose for which it was awarded as soon as possible.
'...I am writing to say a huge 'Thank you' on behalf of my husband and myself. My husband strives on a daily basis to overcome many difficulties. I have to tell you, £2,000 is a very sizeable donation and we feel extremely humbled by its generosity. I ask you to pass on our thanks to all concerned...
Mrs Z, WRAC, awarded £2,000 towards house adaptations following her husband's stroke.
ATS & WRAC Association Benevolent Fund
Basepoint Business Centre
1 Winnall Valley Road
Tel: 0300 400 1992