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Benevolent fund: Supporting the podiatry community

Benevolent fund: Supporting the podiatry community


People are attracted to our profession for lots of reasons. It offers a rewarding career and, for many, a degree of flexibility that enables a positive work-life balance. It offers variety and a range of career pathways. And while this isn’t the main motivation, it is generally seen as offering good pay and a comfortable living. Unfortunately, sometimes life isn’t so simple. Illness, bereavement, family crisis – for any number of unexpected reasons, podiatrists, like anyone else, can have their career derailed and face hardship. 

The College's Benevolent Fund exists to support members through those times. Helena Basarab-Horwath, the Assistant Company Secretary, has been administering the fund since 2012.

“The Benevolent Fund was created in 1912 by the founders of The Incorporated Society of Chiropodists, a precursor of the College of Podiatry”, she says. “The fund has grown from small beginnings over the years to about £1m. This seems like a lot; in fact, it is a relatively modest endowment but the investment income provides funding to offer support for podiatrists and chiropodists who have fallen on hard times.”

In 2017, the Trustees distributed £17,407 to 20 members, former members, and the dependents of deceased members of the College. Anyone may apply to the fund at any time. Applications are treated in strictest confidence and awards are made based on need. 

“We hear from people who have long or short-term ill health, both physical and mental; unemployment; underemployment; low incomes; family breakdown or caring for sick or disabled relations”, says Helena. “Support can be for anything – a small amount to tide someone over or a one-off sum to help buy household equipment or to carry out essential repairs. Sometimes it’s just a bit of help with the basics that can make all the difference while people try to get back on their feet.  We receive applications from members of all ages, but the average age is 45 to 55.”

“In addition to income from investments, we do receive donations from members either individually or through the College’s regional branch network. We are really grateful to members for these donations. I think there is a strong sense of community amongst our members. They are linked because of what they do for a living, but the connections are human - between people.  Podiatrists are motivated by the prospect of helping others, so the Fund is an extension of that.”

Members who need support may contact Helena for an application pack.  Her email address is: h.basarab-horwath@cop.org.uk. The process is completely confidential. 

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