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NUJ services TUC


“When they got the job, we paid the deposit on a flat at the new place so they could start afresh.” The biggest payout Wheal can recall was £5,000 to a long-term beneficiary; the smallest was £64.50, which was for batteries for a mobility scooter. The charity also helps dependants of members who have


died. Years ago, pensions did not transfer to widows and they were often left with nothing after their husbands died as many gave up work and had not paid into the system. “We take a look at their income and top it up to a level we hope provides a decent standard of living,” says Wheal. “Many get several hundreds of pounds or euros a month. Many have been having their income topped up for well over 20 years.” In December 2005 when NUJ Extra was founded, the funds


amounted to just over £2 million and grants for that year totalled more than £84,000. The amount per person rose from £130 to £150 a week and the grant for each dependent increased from £50 to £75. Last year the total amount in grants awarded to individuals was £103,989. The biggest challenge Wheal faces is time. A lot of cases are


complex and involve a lot of work. “Sometimes it is very upsetting,” he says. “Some people really are in appalling situations that literally make me cry, especially when I know we don’t have the funds we’d need to completely fix the problem.” “I wish we could close because nobody needed us. But we


know there are members out there who need our help but are not coming to us. We have empathy, not just sympathy, with those who need our help. Personally I have been there – I had to borrow more than £30,000 after our car accident and was still relying on friends and family for help until the other driver paid compensation and we cleared our debts. It’s not a fun place to be. “We are also creative, not just issuing fixed sums or stock


answers. Each beneficiary is like a family member. Each is an individual with unique needs, but we ultimately want them to fly the nest and make a success of their lives.”


How you can get involved…


NUJ EXTRA offers free professional training to any members who are interested in becoming a welfare officer. The charity currently has


36 welfare officers across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They provide practical support to members who have problems due to illness, a sudden onset of disability and financial issues as well as information and advice to dependents of deceased members. Chris Rea, welfare officer


and chair of the Manchester & Salford Branch, says: “The welfare officer role doesn’t require regular input, but you have to be ready to step in when cases arise. Branch


areas can cover a lot of terrain so you need to be prepared to travel as many cases will entail visiting people in their homes. “The personal aspect is


probably the most rewarding part of the role – knowing that you are helping, however modestly, another NUJ member at a difficult moment in their life.” Members can raise funds for


NUJ Extra through charity events and via AmazonSmile.


To apply, visit www.nuj. org.uk/work/nuj-extra/ For further details about becoming a welfare officer, email extra@nuj.org.uk


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