Making a difference

8 May 2012
Hands outstretched graphic

The IET’s Benevolent Fund was established in 1880 and over the years has helped numerous members and their families in times of financial need, as it still does today, reports Stephen Addy.

Today IET Connect, as it is now known, continues to support more and more IET members and their immediate families who are experiencing financial hardship as well as other personal difficulties or challenging circumstances.
IET Connect is committed to helping past and present members and their dependants and with the IET's worldwide membership standing at over 152,000 individuals in 125 countries the needs of members are diverse. Beneficiaries range from students and graduates, working engineers, those who have become unemployed due to redundancy or who cannot work due to long-term illness or disability, carers, dependants and retired members. As well as helping current IET members we also help past members who are in need.

Engineering communities

IET Connect often receives enquiries from members with disabilities or relatives who are finding it difficult to manage at home or maintain independence and who need help in making their lives more manageable.
While we regularly provide funding for the purchase of aids and equipment to help with independence at home, IET Connect sometimes refers individuals to other expert organisations who deal specifically with their requirements. One example in the UK is our partnership with Remap, a voluntary organisation specialising in the design and production of tailor-made equipment for disabled adults and children, not available commercially.
Remap has approximately 1000 volunteers from engineering and craftsmanship backgrounds who contribute their skills in completing 3000 projects annually. Remap devices are not sold commercially and all the materials are provided by individual local panels. Every device is specifically designed to meet the individual’s requirements and each is subjected to rigorous safety checks. Remap relies solely on funding and the goodwill of the volunteers to run these projects. The devices are provided free, although some recipients may wish to make a voluntary contribution to the organisation.

The right support

Shyam Chandegra was referred to Remap by one of IET Connect’s advice and support workers. He explains why he has personally benefited from using Remap Services which have helped him immensely:
”My name is Shyam Chandegra and I am 23 years old. I live in Birmingham, UK, with my family and my father is a member of the IET. I am disabled and suffer with a rare condition called Systemic Hyalinosis which affects all of my joints, causes excessive tissue growth on my gums, ears and hands and has left me totally wheelchair bound.
“I recently had a visit from an IET Connect advice and support worker and we were discussing what difficulties I have to suffer with due to my disability. After some discussion, they introduced me to Remap which helps to construct various items that will help with my day-to-day needs, because I had some issues that needed addressing around the house.
“After about a month, we had a visit from Chris who works for Remap. We talked for a while and he spoke about other projects that Remap had undertaken. We then discussed the problems I was having around the house. A big difficulty was that I was unable to hold my mobile phone to my ear due to my limited movement through my disability. Because of this, I had to put my phone on loudspeaker which then gave me no privacy during my conversations. Chris came up with some ideas that would allow me to take the phone to my ear and after a week Chris came back with a mechanism that would allow me to do just that!
“Another issue that needed addressing was with my laptop which, due to limited movement, I was unable to position where I could use it comfortably. Chris decided to come up with an idea where the laptop would rest and swing on a tray, with a specially made bracket that would attach to the wall. Within two weeks Chris returned with the bracket and installed it where I was able to use it effectively. I was astonished and still am by how well the bracket/tray has worked ever since.
“Overall, my experiences with Remap have been amazing due to their efficiency and professionalism. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chris and his colleagues for all their hard work that they have put in to make my day-to-day life easier. I would also like to thank IET Connect and Catherine James, for introducing Remap to me, as I will be using them in the future.”
This is just one example where IET Connect has worked in partnership with another charity to help an IET member and his family.

How can IET connect help?

IET Connect is dedicated to assisting IET members, former members and dependants. All of its services are free to members and are a direct benefit of membership of the IET.
The advice and support workers have experience in community care, disability and care issues, welfare benefits and welfare rights. They can offer advice and guidance and will also refer people to specialist independent organisations and agencies for more specific advice if needed.
IET Connect offers a free out-sourced legal helpline where solicitors can advise on a wide range of issues including employment and redundancy, personal and family concerns.
It can also help with funding for a wide range of purposes including emergency costs, essential household items, care and disability associated needs - particularly for mobility and help in maintaining independence and quality of life, as well as funding towards respite grants to benefit carers.
Funding is also available towards the costs of counselling, one-to-one career coaching and online support through a specialist provider to help get back into employment or to refresh job-seeking skills.
IET Connect aims to provide a holistic approach, discussing and exploring options to help overcome personal issues or difficulties. It also offers contact through the volunteer Local Representatives and IET Connect staff who visit people in their homes to discuss needs and can provide advocacy if necessary.

How to contact us

All telephone calls, written correspondence and visits are treated as confidential. If you have a particular concern about any care issue, including long-term care, aids and adaptations, employment or redundancy, legal, financial difficulties, welfare benefits, welfare rights or would like someone to visit you then please get in touch.

You can contact the helpline on 0845 685 0685 (UK only) or on +44 (0)20 7344 5498, email us at ietconnect@theiet.org or visit www.ietconnect.org

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