RBF is headlining this year’s RailStaff Awards as overall corporate sponsor. The move comes as RBF, the new name of the Railway Benefit Fund, prepares to launch a comprehensive portfolio of new services this autumn.
The RBF supports railway staff, active or former, and their dependents when dealing with illness, injury, bereavement, or adversity. RBF was founded in 1858 in an era of appalling safety, danger and social deprivation.
First chairman, Joseph Locke, set the tone when he said he hoped, ‘The railways would combine to support this most excellent and valuable institution.’ Locke was himself a noted railway engineer – he studied under George Stephenson – and went on to become a Liberal MP, always concerned with the welfare of railway workers.
Annual dinners were held to raise money and were chaired by the Marquess of Lansdowne, the Prince of Wales and Charles Dickens. The writer drew particular attention to the gratitude he felt was owed to railway staff, who performed their duties in hazardous conditions. Like Locke, Dickens argued passionately for support.
The charity was relaunched in 2006 under the name of the Railway Benefit Fund, and is now widely known as RBF. Further developments will see RBF moving up a gear with a new structure and reforms designed to deliver a comprehensive advice and assistance service to retired and serving railway people.
Abi Smith, RBF’s Chief Executive urges people to get to know RBF better. ‘We are very much aware that many railway staff do not know about us. We are changing all that and the RailStaff Awards will act as a window on the RBF. Railway staff do a difficult job well and deserve continuing support. We wish everyone entering the RailStaff Awards good luck and look forward to meeting as many of you as we can on the night itself.’
Says RailStaff editor, Andy Milne, ‘The railway is a huge community of working men and women, their families and retired people. Modern life is complex and the unexpected often challenging.
It is good to know the RBF is there with a helping hand and professional advice. The RailStaff Awards is all about the people who actually do the work and invest whole careers in the railway. It makes sense that the RBF, which does so much to help, is at the forefront of the event. We wish Abi and her team at RBF every success.’