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TBF helping to make a difference

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During the past 12 months, TBF has paid out more than £2.5 million in benefits to its members. The demand for its support is as great as it ever has been, illustrating the challenges facing many of the individuals and families of those who work on the railway.

The Transport Benevolent Fund CIO, known as TBF, is a non-profit making membership charity offering a wide range of financial, health and welfare benefits to those working in public transport, should need, hardship or distress arise.


Anyone engaged in the public transport industry in Great Britain is eligible to join. Membership costs just £1 a week, covering the member, their partner and dependent children. The membership fee can be deducted through the company payroll facility or, if this is not possible, paid by standing order. Increasingly, membership is being paid for by the employer; acknowledging the advantages of membership in helping to improve members’ work-life balance and reducing staff turnover.

The fund is run by a board of trustees, the majority of who work in the industry and decide on all benefits. Members’ needs and circumstances are all different, so the discretionary awards are made on the individual merits of each case. TBF’s Patrons are numerous and include leading figures in the major transport groups and trades unions.

Making a difference

TBF development director, Ian Barlex, explains: “TBF is different and makes a difference. Membership is not an insurance policy; the Fund does not make loans, so the money granted is for the beneficiary to keep. Each family member is considered separately and benefits paid are not cumulative for whole family. There are no different levels of membership fees, there’s no catch – the £1 a week is a flat-rate membership fee giving the member and their family access to the extensive range of financial, health and welfare benefits.

“These include, cash grants to help cover short-term hardship from sickness [typically 2 weeks or more] for example, debt advice, legal help on non-employment matters and also bereavement grants.

“We also offer medical benefits such as second opinions, scans and tests, a wide range of complementary and alternative therapies, medical equipment, prescription pre payment certificates, help with the cost of laser eyesight correction and convalescence.

“There is no age limit for joining TBF, but the person must be engaged in the industry on the day they apply to join. There is also no bar on pre existing conditions so there’s no need for a medical. Where members have contributed for long enough, they may gain free membership in retirement.

TBF is once again sponsoring the Station Staff category at the 2018 RailStaff Awards. Last year, the category was won by the team at London Bridge station for their handling of the Borough Market terror attack last year.

“TBF is all about helping people, people in the public transport industry and we at TBF are proud to sponsor the Station Staff of the Year category at this year’s RailStaff Awards,” said Ian.

“The awards provide a great arena to showcase the invaluable service and exceptional achievements of all those working in the rail sector. We are proud to promote the outstanding work carried out by all station staff – whether customer facing and behind the scenes – providing help and support to the travelling public, sometimes in very difficult circumstances. That’s why TBF is here to help our rail staff members when they find themselves in need or distress.”

The future

The fund was originally formed in 1923 to support families of those who served in the First World War.

“The needs of today’s members are very different to those of 95 years ago, but there are still cases of hardship among those who work in the public transport industry. The continuing relevance of the fund’s work is best illustrated by the volume of awards to members which are regularly over £600,000 a quarter,” Ian said.

“TBF currently has over 59,500 members, making it the fastest growing charity exclusive to the industry. This is partly due to the hard work of our nine recruitment organisers who cover all areas of England, Scotland and Wales. We do not pay commission to anyone, so members’ contributions go further to helping those in need.

“If the current trend of need continues we would very much like to further expand membership enabling the fund to help all those in need.”

Whenever the need for help does arise, members simply call 0300 333 2000 to speak direct to the friendly team of advisers who will do whatever they can to help. TBF does not have a call centre or lots of push button options for callers.

The Transport Benevolent Fund CIO, known as TBF, is a registered charity in England and Wales, 1160901 and Scotland, SC047016.

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