#NQ4 Edridge: Solidarity and kindness during adversity

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Charlotte Dunkley © Copyright: STEFANO CAGNONI 2016

Charlotte Dunkley described the work of Edridge as “practical” and “transformative” and told members it “characterises Napo as a union and Edridge as a charity” during her address to conference.

Having recently taken over as the fund’s chair of trustees, Charlotte painted a vivid and moving picture of the people who had benefited from the Fund’s assistance.

“We help me, and you and any of the colleagues that we sit next to day to day,” Charlotte told conference, adding that 65% of the Fund’s beneficiaries were Napo members.

Applicants to the Fund are varied, but not surprisingly there is a higher representation of disabled members – many of whom are facing ill-health retirement or sickness absence procedures. Edridge was approached by the rep of one such member who said: “Your cheque will transform his life. He’s living without heating because he cannot afford it.”

Transforming Rehabilitation has impacted on those working in probation in a variety of ways, but Charlotte has revealed how detrimental it may be to the finances of members.

Since recording applicants’ employment details, Edridge have found that there are twice as many applications from NPS members than there are from those working in the CRCs. Younger members are also facing “overwhelming” financial difficulties against a backdrop of a reduce in pay at the bottom of the scale.

On top of this, Charlotte reports a great deal of colleagues “in the grips of pay day loan companies.”

An ex-service user now employed by a CRC in what he described as his “dream job” had historic debts that he could not clear. Charlotte told members that by giving him assistance “We have helped him in a way that has made his desistance journey a very real one.”

While a grant from Edridge may help to alleviate financial burden in many cases, it can also dramatically improve the safety of others. The Fund has helped those fleeing domestic violence, and in a case which Charlotte said struck those at Edridge, helped a member move after receiving death threats from someone due to be released from prison.

Conference was told that many who receive money from Edridge do in fact pay it back. Charlotte said: “For us as trustees, this is the true spirit of practical support that underpins the history of the labour movement. It is the demonstration of solidarity and kindness at a time of adversity in people’s lives.”

As a charity, Edridge relies entirely on donations from individuals and organisations such as Napo and the Civil Service Insurance Society. However, cuts made by both organisations have seen Edridge’s income fall by a third.

In order to continue to help those in need, Charlotte asked members to consider buying into the 50/50 fund or sign up for regular giving. “If 100 people gave £5, that gives us an additional £6000 a year which we can gift aid significantly increasing the amount,” Charlotte told members.

To donate, volunteer, or find out more about the work of Edridge visit http://www.edridgefund.org/

Taytula Burke

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