A short introduction to our activities from our inception in 1877 to today.
To provide succour and sustenance in times of sickness, adversity and sorrow
1877 was a year of change and development. Queen Victoria became Empress of India. Thomas Edison invented the gramophone and the Teachers’ Benevolent Fund was formed as part of the National Union of Teachers (NUT).
At the time, it was recognised that there was a need to provide an organisation that would:
“…encourage the spirit of self-help and thrift against times of sickness and disaster…to make due provision for casualties…[and] those who fell by the way…to provide succour and sustenance in times of sickness, adversity and sorrow, for those for whom there was none other to help; and for the bereaved families left behind.”
Serving Teachers' orphans
Alongside the fund for teachers, the desire to set up a fund for orphans whose parents had “passed beyond the veil” was voiced. In 1879, the Teachers’ Orphanage and Orphan Fund was established, and one year before the turn of the century in 1898, both the Teachers’ Benevolent Fund and the Orphanage and Orphan Fund amalgamated to become the Benevolent and Orphan Fund of the National Union of Teachers, otherwise known as the Teachers Benevolent Fund (TBF).
The 50 year report of the charity states: “the feeling that had been growing through the years in favour of unification had been happily realised. The fund now worked under one name and with one central administration from that year on”.
In 1927, the main reasons for contacting the service were as follows:
- Nervous breakdown: 394
- Consumption: 295
- Operations: 167
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: 87
- Cancer: 17
After WWII 'normal service resumed'
As the years went by the fund continued to develop to meet the changing and developing needs of teachers and their dependents. During the First and Second World Wars, evacuations, financial hardship and untimely deaths occurred within the Benevolent and Orphanage communities, yet according to the 1945 report: “normal service resumed with a little delay as possible”.
In 1962, the fund registered as a charity. Soon after, the orphanages closed to make way for new services and support opportunities. The 1965 annual report stated:
"This past year has been one of considerable activity, with many problems. Much encouragement [for teachers] is needed in matters of anxiety, improving prospects and solid and sustained attention to trends, which clearly indicate the imperative need for the fund’s services to the profession”.
Seventies and Eighties - Stress, workload and pressure recognised
Grief, anxiety, distress and hardship cannot be dispelled solely by grants of money
In the 1970s the TBF recognised that more and more teachers were contacting the charity because of issues such as stress, workload and pressure.
The 1980 report for the previous year said: “grief, anxiety, distress and hardship cannot be dispelled solely by grants of money. Important as swift financial assistance is to the majority of applicants, it is often the sympathetic understanding of our voluntary case-workers in the field which plays the key role”.
The 1983 report recognised similar problems: “unfortunately, there is a belief in some quarters that the TBF exists only to help the elderly. This is far from true. More often it is the young teacher who is the most vulnerable. An increasing number are experiencing difficulties caused by stress at school or problems with their marriage”.
Teacherline launched at the turn of the millenium
In 1999, the charity embarked on a new journey: offering coaching and counselling to teachers via Teacherline, which provided 24 hour support to staff having practical and emotional problems.
“In total, the TBF has directly supported 4,750 teachers and retired teachers through grants, provision of nursing accommodation, counselling, money advice and other services”. (2000 Annual Report)
This year also saw the launch of Worklife Support – now a wholly owned trading company dedicated to providing services to improving the wellbeing and effectiveness of the whole school workforce.
Another name change, and Wales
In 2001, the charity changed its name to Teacher Support Network, creating a Welsh branch a year later in 2002. Teacher Support Cymru offered bilingual services, as well as support, information and advice for all training, serving and retired teachers in Wales.
College and University Support Network launched
Every 24 minutes we help someone in need.
In 2005, Teacher Support Online was set up offering one-to-one online coaching and advice. 2006 saw the launch of the College and University Support Network, now Recourse, which offered support services to education staff working in further and higher education with funding from the University and College Union (UCU).
2012 marks our 135th birthday.
Last year we received 11,925 calls to our Support Line, had 101,917 visitors to our factsheets and gave over £180,000 in grants. This means every 24 minutes we help someone in need.