Although some railway workers are classified as key – so they are still on full pay and have childcare support through local schools – others are struggling during the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic. Many are furloughed while others, on zero-hours contracts, have no income and are having to resort to government schemes or even benefits.
To help these struggling families, the Railway Benefit Fund (RBF) is providing extra resources to ensure help finds its way to those railway workers that need it most.
Founded in 1858, the Crewe-based charity supports current or former railway employees and their families. During the COVID-19 outbreak, it is providing a range of services, including grants, to help families pay bills, special funds to assist families with everyday needs, easy access to help and assistance programmes and friendly and confidential advice to help families cope with many issues caused by the pandemic’s impact.
New chief executive Claire Houghton said: “These are among the toughest times we have ever seen as a charity. COVID-19 has come into our lives and turned them upside down.
“Everybody has been affected in some way. Whether the virus itself has caused personal health issues in a family or its impact on business has caused financial hardship or concerns for workers – the RBF is here to help.”
Pete Waterman, the charity’s president, added: “Times are really tough for everybody at the moment – our rail workers are keeping Britain moving during the crisis, providing a vital service – we are here to help those who need it.”
So that railway workers and their families can access this help, RBF has set up a dedicated COVID-19 page on its website. It contains a hotline number 0345 241 2885, a unique email address to use –firstname.lastname@example.org – and also includes an enquiry form for anyone who prefers not to call or email.
Funded entirely by donations and fundraising efforts, the RBF is solely dedicated to providing help and support to current, former and retired workers in times of need. It focuses on the modern needs and concerns of those working in the industry today, offering advice and ﬁnancial support.
Tim Shoveller, RBF’s chairman and also managing director of Network Rail’s North West and Central region, commented: “The Railway Benefit Fund takes its responsibility to support the Railway Family very seriously.
“We have considerably increased our grants available to provide financial help to those of you who need it.”