Extra help for Old Stoics where and when it’s really needed

Simon Shneerson (Temple 72) discusses the Old Stoic Benevolent Trust, a new charity which has been set up to help Old Stoics and their dependants

In recent years, the Old Stoic Society has worked hard to broaden its work so that it reaches more members in more ways. As you probably know, parents pay for a life subscription while you’re at Stowe and in return the Society has a lifetime responsibility for providing what can broadly be called fraternity and sorority.

In 2015, we updated our Strategic Plan and were considering how members’ needs were changing. One of the most challenging questions that emerged was, “what do we do for Old Stoics who are in real trouble?”

The OS Office has always been very good at putting people in touch with fellow Old Stoics for things like careers advice, but what could we do for a member who was forced to give up work because of ill health and then lost their home? Or the member with two young children who dropped dead on the second day of a new job, before he could sign up for his new employer’s life insurance cover?

So the idea of a Benevolent Fund emerged, offering rescue grants for OSs who were in an unexpected financial crisis. However, as we looked further, it became clear there was a much bigger need. The more members we spoke to, the more we heard about people who had struggled to cope with financial, health, family or lifestyle crises, and where the ‘normal’ support channels had proved to be inadequate. While grants can certainly be really helpful, there are many other situations where an Old Stoic might require practical help, sometimes quite complicated, and delivered either as first aid or over a period of time.

Over the past three years, we have been assessing the potential needs, structures and processes that would be required to provide this more in-depth help to members. As the plans have come together, we’ve set up the fund as a registered charity in its own right, which will help it operate more effectively and more independently, and which allows it to fundraise with some useful tax advantages.

The charity is called The Old Stoic Benevolent Trust, its registered number is 1180214, and there are three Trustees to start with, all of them Old Stoics.

Our aim is to do what we can to help any Old Stoic, any past member of Stowe staff, or their dependants, and, in time, we hope to develop our capacity so that we become a really meaningful prop to the 10,500 Old Stoics. We know, however, that the members in difficulty who we already know about are the very tip of a very large iceberg, so building up capacity and building up resource is a key task right now.

How can YOU help US?

We need

  • A network of volunteers to act as local points of contact with members in need. If you could do this, please contact Anna Semler and we’ll let you know more.
  • Offers of support when we are trying to put together an individual help package. This might mean using specialist skills or making business resources available. We will circulate requirements on a case-by-case basis – please look out for emails and respond if you can.
  • Donations or legacies, to help us make modest emergency grants and cover the charity’s small but unavoidable expenses. We don’t want to compete with Stowe’s own fundraising, but a rescue system for former pupils and staff is the essential follow-on to a great education.

How can WE help YOU?

If you’re facing a crisis of any sort, please feel free to contact us confidentially at any time.

We can’t promise too much, especially while we’re still getting going, but you’ll always receive a sympathetic response and as much practical help and advice as we can provide. All applications are treated in strict confidence.

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