Impact report cover

Impact Report highlights importance of the Railway Benefit Fund (RBF)

“The railway family needs us more than ever” is the key take away from the RBFs Impact report for 2023.

Demand for Railway Benefit Fund (RBF) services has nearly tripled in the past five years. More than 500 applications were received in 2023 resulting in more than 1,000 railway people receiving direct financial support and many more receiving advice and signposting to other support.

Jo Kaye, Chief Executive Officer, said: “It is heart-wrenching to see that people are working so hard in the industry that I love and yet still, for reasons way beyond their control, they are struggling to make ends meet. That is what really brings home the value of what we do here in the rail industry’s charity.”

The charity, which provides support to current, former, and retired railway staff and their families across the UK has found that the average age of those seeking help is younger than previous years, with nearly 70 per cent of applicants under 50 years old.

Its latest annual Impact Report, released this month, has found that there is an increased prevalence of those in their 20s, with younger people coming to the charity for help with debt support, with some struggling to feed themselves or their families.

Findings also show that 65% of those we are supporting are current rail workers who are facing increasing hardship because of the impact of the cost of living, energy price rises and general inflation.

Jo said: “We have seen a huge increase in demand for our services over the last few years. Most of our services are around financial support, whether that’s direct financial assistance via grants to people in need or providing advice and guidance about how to manage financial issues to prevent a problem becoming a crisis.
“We are expecting demand for our services to remain high. As we know, while some people can manage for a while in difficult circumstances, eventually their resources can run out. We must plan for the demand for financial support to continue and to promote financial wellbeing and the importance of early intervention before situations reach rock bottom.”
In true railway fashion, the industry has rallied around to support the charity. Among some of the highlights in a challenging 2023 to raise funds included Railway Family Week which raised more than £35,000; the Heart of Gold Awards raising £15,000; the Annual Golf Day raising £15,000; sporting and personal challenges raising £5,000; and rail industry awards and dinners with charity raffles making more than £22,000.

Jo added: “We need the whole industry to get behind us so we can continue to be here for all the railway people who need us. We cannot continue without the donations, support and fundraising of everyone and for that we are profoundly grateful.

“There are many ways you can support RBF. We have an exciting Class 40 Charity Charter – the Bucket & Spade – on 5th June from Crewe to Scarborough. An enjoyable day out with colleagues, clients, friends, and family as well as helping us to raise some much-needed funds. We also have an Auction of Rail Experiences in May and our Annual Golf Day in June.
“We need your donations too which you can make as a one-off gift or sign up to support us monthly – the price of a cup of coffee is all you need to donate to make an enormous difference over the course of time. We are also always on the lookout for people in rail who want to donate their time and expertise to help us, so think about registering with us a volunteer.”

• Find out more about our events on our website here.
• Click here to read or download the Impact Report in full.

You can get in touch with the team at Railway Benefit Fund on 0345 241 2885 or email info@railwaybenefitfund.org.uk