The British Charitable Fund (BCF) was established in 1815 on the initiative of the Duke of Wellington to help British people in Belgium and their dependants, who find themselves in difficult circumstances. Over 200 years on the BCF continues its valuable work in Belgium and BCF Chairperson Julie Huckle has recently reviewed their activities in 2021.
During 2021, the world continued to come to terms with the on-going effects of COVID-19. The pandemic has had an impact on the way that the BCF has been able to work this year. Calls for assistance have had to be handled from a distance which can be difficult and has effectively removed a large part of the human contact element of the BCF’s work.
The help that the BCF offers comes in two main forms: financial support and pastoral care. The financial aspect is fairly straight forward and relies on the generosity of supporters to help maintain a sufficient level of funds. Pastoral care is far less simple but, at the end of the day, is about the care we all have for one another as human beings and is a very large part of what the BCF does.
BCF volunteers provide social and emotional support to people in our community who need it. Care can include all forms of human needs from ordinary physical and biological needs, through the need for safety and security, to social needs for connectedness and love and, finally, the higher needs for respect, personal growth and fulfilment.
Pastoral Care is about providing an accompaniment for people, to help them and encourage them to take care of themselves. It may well include practical help (including referring them to other agencies) but also involves lots of listening and helping people to clarify their own thoughts. Perhaps most importantly, it also includes trying to ensure that they know they are being thought about and cared for. This can be achieved by staying in touch, sometimes just with a message. And there can be a spiritual element to this as well and the BCF is proud to work closely with Holy Trinity Church, St Andrew’s Church of Scotland and St George’s Memorial Church in Ypres. Adding The Wednesday Club, the Community Help Service, the Royal British Legion and the British Consulate as combined resources means that BCF can assist just about anyone who needs help.
The BCF In general, there are no fixed rules for the provision of assistance and the fund tries to help anyone in genuine need. In practice, applicants should have exhausted all other means of support from family and state agencies. However, there are often gaps in the provision of social help that can uniquely affect foreigners in Belgium, and it is these cases that the BCF is best suited to assist.
Jim was living in an unpleasant apartment which was causing both his physical and mental health to be affected. He asked for assistance to find a new, more suitable, place to live and the BCF helped him to bridge the financial gap which inevitably appears when someone moves location. Not only that, BCF volunteers helped him move some of his more cherished belongings to his new home, all of which helped to ease the stress of the whole proceeding.
The BCF has provided on-going support to people affected by the terrorist attacks of March 2016. These cases are very complex and challenging, which have required not only financial support, but also patience, time and expert input from the BCF volunteers involved.
How can you help?
The work of the BCF volunteers continues to be entirely supported by the generosity of people like you. EUR 30 covers the cost of a one-way bus ride back to the UK. EUR 90 covers the cost of a replacement passport. EUR 250 can help to cover the cost of a loan for the up-front payment of a rental guarantee. All donations to the BCF, no matter the size, are welcome and any amount of EUR 40 and over is tax deductible in Belgium.
Donations can be made directly to the BCF account: BE37 3101 8900 8428
If you know of anyone who may need BCF help, please do not hesitate to get in touch. All of BCF’s work is carried out in total confidence.
Similarly, if you would like to become a BCF volunteer, please contact Louise Lang on 02 354 7563.
The BCF committee, and especially its beneficiaries, thank all the supporters of the fund, including the BBCA, and wishes everyone a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.
You can find more information on BCF activities at: www.bcfund.be