RAMC Guide to Welfare
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  1. Since William Beveridge articulated, mid WW2, his vision for a Welfare State, and its initial manifestation in the late 1940s, this has come about and is now defined as a system that allows the government of a country to provide social services such as healthcare, unemployment benefit, etc to people who need them, paid for by taxes. To this can be added the wider community also contributing through charitable bodies funded by private donation or further, partially or totally, supported by finance from government raised taxes. It is a large and complex system today that is multi-layered and multi-faceted.
  2. This document seeks to set the RAMC Association, itself a constituent part of a charity, the RAMC Charity, in the context of its role within that far wider and deeper Welfare State we currently live in. We are a small cog in the great scheme but we can help our Members to gain better access, where appropriate, to it. The Association at large therefore will provide an overview of what might be available but the execution of assistance can only occur directly through local action and thus through our Branches. The Branches ‘own’ our membership. The activities of the Branches will enable the RAMC Association to ‘punch above its weight’ in terms of contribution by connecting its needy effectively with the welfare system.
  3. As can be seen from our Association Rules, the second aim is to foster esprit de corps, comradeship and welfare. More specifically, to assist past and present members of the RAMC and their dependents who are in need, by virtue of financial hardship, sickness, disability or the effects of old-age, by providing discreet advice on how to access welfare and benevolence.
  4. So it is incumbent on Branches to appoint a Welfare Officer, to lead in these matters. The Association Rules state that this is a duty of the Branch Secretary and that should be the default position in order to ensure the matter is always officially addressed. However, Branches are at liberty to appoint a discrete individual to the role should they consider the workload significant enough to warrant this or they have a Member who is skilled and knowledgeable in the sector and willing to so contribute. In this case, there would be merit in the Welfare Officer being co-opted onto the Branch Committee.
  5. The first port of call is the Branch itself. Can it manage to assist by itself and thus give purely local assistance? Branches should therefore maintain a contact list of government and charitable agencies that already provide mandated support. In particular, local general practice, local government (housing, benefits, social care), SSAFA, RBL, AF Covenant Outreach Support Hub, Combat Stress, Alcoholics Anonymous, Samaritans, domestic abuse, dementia care, etc contact details should be held. It may well be that merely assisting in the contacting of the local body able to give aid, on behalf of the Member, is the best help of all.
  6. From time to time, the National Association or RHQ RAMC may pass on details of somebody in need, perhaps somebody through previous service, entitled to RAMC support, but is not a member of the Branch itself, who is local, and request outreach assistance from the Branch.
  7. It would be useful for the Branch Welfare Officer to liaise with the local care, benefit and charitable bodies already identified so that the bridges have already been built before an intervention takes place over a given case. It might also illuminate the circumstances of existing ex- RAMC clients that the Branch can then assist.
  8. Good practice would include keeping simple records of occurrences which should be aggregated annually. In the round, confidentiality must be respected and information only shared on a need-to-know basis. Certainly no personal details of a case should be shared with a third party without the express permission of the case or the relative caring agency concerned. Written material concerning a case should be treated as ‘In Confidence’. The ideal person to maintain good welfare practice would be caring, non-discriminatory, discreet and energetic enough to move swiftly to assist.
  9. Whilst physical assistance, literally and metaphorically, is important, often the key to successful help is financial. Hence the need to be able to assist cases to connect with local government departments. It can also be available through the likes of the Soldier’s Charity (formerly ABF). However, there is the availability of access to charitable funds via the RAMC Charity and its Benevolence Committee.
  10. The Charity derives its finance through the Days Pay Giving Scheme, ie through annual donations from serving Regular and Reserve Officers and Soldiers of the RAMC and dividends from an investment portfolio. Occasionally individual one-off donations further expand the fund.
  11. Anyone who has served 7 days in the RAMC (post-Phase 1 training), Regular or Reserve, commissioned or otherwise, is eligible to apply. Financial assistance may also be considered for financial dependents of the entitled including widows/widowers. All cases for consideration must be referred through the local SSAFA Caseworker. The Benevolence Committee will not accept direct approaches from either the case or the Branch Welfare Officer. Once the Caseworker has completed an assessment of need, the case is then referred to the most appropriate agency to deal with it, whether that be RBL, the Soldiers’ Charity or RAMC Benevolence, or a combination of those bodies. If mobility equipment is required, an accompanying occupational therapy assessment will be necessary. A printed guide to the process of Benevolence is provided by RHQ RAMC.
  12. Cases, duly assessed, are then placed before the Benevolence Committee that meets once a month, making its decisions over awards then and there. Emergency requests can be dealt with in between formal meetings. Usually the money is sent on within the week (to SSAFA and not the individual) and this can only be used for the purpose it was requested. Whilst the criteria whereby the Committee makes its awards are flexible, it will not fund debt repayment or provide loans. The RAMC Benevolence Committee is composed of both serving and retired members of the RAMC, commissioned and otherwise, including key RAMC Association personalities.
  13. In order for Branch Welfare Officers to feel at ease and competent to fulfil their duties, the Association will provide an annual one-day seminar for their benefit.
  14. In summary this document has set out, within the context of a much larger and better resourced national and local welfare system, how Branches may provide suitable assistance to their Members in need, their obtaining physical and financial support from elsewhere and how to approach, where appropriate, Regimental Funds.

July 2020

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