SPREAD THE WORD!
Claims for assistance from the ROC Benevolent Fund in 1999 were fewer than in 1998, and the money paid out was considerably less. Good news, you may think - it must mean that fewer families are living on or near the poverty line. Not so, according to national statistics, so why aren't requests for help coming in? Bearing in mind the many thousands of people who at some time in their lives were members of the Corps, particularly those who served during the 1939-45 War, there must be many elderly ex-Corps members or their spouses and dependants who, purely on statistical grounds, must be among the sick and the hard-up.
There are several possible explanations which spring to mind: understandable reluctance to admit financial hardship even to one's friends, let alone to someone who is going to pry into bank accounts and private affairs; the fact that one's family knew father plotted aircraft during the War but he never talked much about it, and the family didn't know it was the ROC - least of all that it had a Benevolent Fund; and those who know about the Corps, but not about ROCA or about the ROC Benevolent Fund.
What can we do about it? For a start, ask yourself a question or two: how many dependants do you have? How many of them, if asked, would say 'Yes, I know about the ROCBF'? And for those who do know, how many would know whom to contact if you are run over by a bus tomorrow'! Charity begins at home they say, so start by making sure those at home know what to do, just in case.
Many. of us too often learn of the death of a past colleague third or fourth hand, and too late to attend the funeral or to offer condolences to the family. From our own experience we know that sometimes the first we hear of someone's passing is when a subscription reminder is rejected. 1 believe it is never too late to send condolences, even if they have to be accompanied by apologies for lateness. And with the letter or card can be a simple standard reminder, which can be mentioned tactfully in the letter, that the ROCBF exists to help people who fall on hard times.
Membership of the ROC Association up and down the country is considerably less than the numbers when Group Associations were first formed. Admittedly quite a few have died, but many more have left for one reason or another, and are no longer on newsletter mailing lists. And yet we still see or hear of them from time to time. How do we reach them? . What would be useful is a simple card explaining what the ROC Benevolent Fund is and how it can help, which people could give to their dependants, file with their Will, and enclose with letters of condolence. It must not seek contributions, or it will be thrown away, and of course it should have space for Benevolent Fund Officers to write in their name and contact number. Meanwhile, all you ex-Officers and Head Observers - remember the older Observers on your Crews or Posts ?. Have you seen them lately? How about checking up on them? Remind them about the Benevolent Fund, won't you ?.
Thanks to 14 Group Newsletter for this article. By the way, our Benevolent Fund Officer is Kathryn Little who can be reached on 01 228 525 163