When a new member joins the Chartered Institute of Journalists, I like to explain that it is more than a talking shop, more than the oldest and most respected organisation of professional journalists in the world, an advisory body on copyright, journalistic legalities, professional practices and recommended rates and conditions, and a gatekeeper for the National Press Card. More than all of these, it’s also a little like an insurance company in times of need. But you cannot take out fire insurance when the house is on fire! If times are hard, commissions are slow in coming and some of your correspondence is a nasty shade of red, the last thing you should consider – not the first – is cancelling or delaying your subscription. Instead, contact CIoJ HQ for a helpful and sympathetic ear, talk to our legal advisers (they can assist with non-journalistic as well as professional matters) and even think about our charities.
The CIoJ has four main charities. There used to be more but the number has been reduced and efficiency improved by amalgamations. In terms of endowment, the Orphan Fund is by far the largest, and over the years has achieved wonderful results in helping to look after children who unhappily have lost one or both of their journalist parents, even in some sad cases seeing them through childhood and university into their chosen career.
Very different is the Benevolent Fund. Administered by the Institute’s Council, but in practice by a very small subcommittee of national officers, when necessary it can take urgent action to help members in need or distress.
In addition, there are two other Institute charities, which like the Orphan Fund are run by dedicated teams of elected Trustees. These are the Oak Hill and T P O’Connor Fund, and the Pension Fund. The committees are elected by Council but, once elected, act independently. Their differing rules prevent amalgamation, but Council decided a few years ago to simplify organisation by electing the same individuals to each committee. They have joint meetings and collectively are known as the Charity Committee. Elected by the Trustees, my colleagues, I have the distinct honour of being the current Chairman.
Oak Hill was, many years ago, a convalescent home owned by the Institute of Journalists, but eventually sold and the proceeds employed, as the Oak Hill Convalescent Fund, to pay for medical treatment and convalescence of professional journalists. Uniquely among Institute charities, both members and non-members could apply. A few years ago it amalgamated with the long-established but rarely employed T P O’Connor Fund, named after the journalist Thomas Power O’Connor, known as T P O’Connor and occasionally as Tay Pay (mimicking his pronunciation), an Irish nationalist political figure and a UK Member of Parliament for nearly half a century. Through the charities’ amalgamation, the consolidated fund is able to help sick and aged journalists in poor or necessitous circumstances rather than just a medical condition.
The Pension Fund is what it says, a fund that provides a welcome supplementary pension to recipients, with additional monetary gifts on birthdays and at that end-of-year holiday. The number varies according to the long-term prospects of its investments, but an announcement is made to members when there is a vacancy.
It’s important to note that all grants (and occasionally loans) from CIoJ charities are absolutely confidential. Only Trustees of the individual charities are ever aware of recipients’ identities.
If you wish to apply to Oak Hill and T P O’Connor, I’m afraid we’ll have to ask you to fill in a form. It’s as friendly as we can make it and designed to make life easier for you, by reducing the likelihood that we’d have to come back to you and ask for more information. And it can all be done by confidential email via our ultra-sympathetic CEO Dominic Cooper.
Kenneth JA Brookes
Past President of the CIoJ, Chairman of Trustees, CIoJ Charity Committee (Oak Hill and T P O’Connor Fund, and Pension Fund)