Latest Rail News

18.08.15

Railway charity expands advice service nationwide

The Railway Benefit Fund (RBF) is extending its advice and support services nationwide after successful trials on Merseyrail and South West Trains.

The charity, funded by railway staff for railway staff, provides support to active and former workers across a range of topics including benefits, debt, relationships and wellbeing.

Its chair, Tim Shoveller, who is chief executive of South West Trains, said: “The trials demonstrated clearly that these new services do indeed have a positive effect on a person’s situation. They are relevant and completely justify the work we have done so far.

“RBF is aiming to become the preferred destination for current and former railway workers looking for support and advice. A one-stop-shop where those in need can call up and either receive direct assistance or be referred to a partnering organisation that may be more specialised in certain areas.”

The organisation, in partnership with Manchester’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and national charity Turn2Us, focuses on encouraging staff to seek advice before a personal situation becomes critical.

Shoveller said: “The overall idea is to offer assistance in a wider variety of forms that can be specifically tailored to an individual’s situation.

“In times of need and hardship, it is difficult to look at your own situation clearly. Having someone objective to talk to helps focus on the issues and makes sure things are dealt with properly.”

Staff who call RBF in need of specialist advice can be referred to CAB, while RBF members use the Turn2Us online benefits calculator to help people verify what kind of welfare they are entitled to.

RBF asks staff to contact them personally or through its telephone helpline as an initial source of help for all welfare inquiries.

It was originally founded in 1858 as a form of care and financial aid to vulnerable railway personnel under the name Railway Benevolent Institution, later becoming a source of help through times of illness, injury, bereavement or adversity.

It was relaunched in 2006 under its new name and has since collected over £350,000 in grants and support, helping over 500 railway workers.

(Top image from the RBF twitter, taken at Merseyrail Wellbeing Roadshows)

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