People may ask why there should be a charity specifically for teachers, but we here at Teacher Support Network know there is increasing demand for support, particularly for our counselling and grants services.
It is nearing the end of the school year, which poses some problems for supply staff who may be on short-term or temporary contracts that may be coming to an end. This can cause huge financial uncertainty over the summer months and last year we saw a peak in grants applications in June and July.
Demand for financial support is growing and our charity is working hard to keep up. Last year we issued a total of 450 grants totalling £175,000, compared to 300 grants worth £147,000 in 2013. This was a monetary increase of 19 per cent and a case rise of 50 per cent.
The majority of our benevolence helps to cover the cost of essential things such as rent, utility bills, food and travel.
Patrick, not his real name, received a £300 emergency grant to help him after he was made redundant last summer and was struggling to make ends meet while he found permanent employment.
He told us: “I was made redundant in July 2014. It came out of the blue and I was suddenly left unemployed. I had only been there two years so I didn’t get a redundancy payment. I was contacted by a recruitment agency and was offered a teaching post at a college for four days a week but it was 30 miles away.
“I really enjoyed the job but I had the problem of having to work a month in hand before being paid by the agency. My benefits had stopped because I was working and I had no way of buying petrol or food so I contacted Teacher Support Network for help. The grants process was incredible. It was dealt with quickly and I had £300 in my bank account within hours.”
There are other similar cases for people on short-term contracts. Carol, not her real name, 27, a teacher from East Yorkshire, turned to us when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and it affected her chances of securing a permanent job.
“I had held temporary, short-term teaching contracts but the job I was due to start in January last year had the possibility of turning into a permanent contract after six months,” she said.
“However, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer it changed everything, leaving me unable to work. This also meant that, although they honoured my contract during my sick leave, I was unable to prove myself as a good teacher, meaning that the permanent place I had hoped for was not offered.
“I was told about Teacher Support Network by the National Union of Teachers. When I called the helpline, the woman I spoke to was really kind and sympathetic and told me about the grants departments as I accrued quite a lot of debt due to my lack of permanent employment.”
It is worrying and saddening to see so many people turning to us to help pay for basic living costs. We receive no government funding so we must thank our donors who enable us to support teachers in their time of need. Moreover, financial hardship inevitably leads to worry and stress as debts may begin to build up and many of our grant recipients also seek emotional support from our trained counsellors.
Teachers have a tough but rewarding job, and we are pleased to be able to give a little something back to these people who give so much to their pupils year after year. You can find out more about our grants service by visiting the website or calling our free helpline (see below).
- Julian Stanley is chief executive of the Teacher Support Network. Visit www.teachersupport.info or call 08000 562 561 (England), 08000 855088 (Wales).