The Charity helps dental students, dentists and their families when they face hardship, supporting those who do not have the funds to pay for some of the normal things in life, ranging from contributions towards food and daily living costs, funds to improve the quality of life for those retired due to ill health, to more specific needs like paying someone’s annual retention fee or indemnity, to help them get back on their feet and into the profession.
The impact of the relatively small but incredibly caring and generous group that makes up the dental profession cannot be overstated. There are many stories out there that evoke a feeling of sadness but, working together, lives can genuinely be changed for the better on an ongoing basis.
Between this month and the end of the year, the team at the BDA Benevolent Fund will be doing all they can – as they always do – to keep a roof over people’s heads, as well as fed, safe and warm.
They will also give people additional support so that they can feel a sense of normalcy, for example ensuring the children of beneficiaries do not miss out on a present, or that no-one spends Christmas Day alone because they cannot afford to travel to their family.
All the work that the BDA Benevolent Fund does is provided in the strictest confidence, but three grant recipients have kindly given permission to share their stories, to help increase understanding of the support given to those experiencing difficulties.
One beneficiary happy to speak about her experiences is a graduate dental student. Her father was killed by a terrorist in 2004 and her mother is mentally and physically disabled, and so unable to work and provide an income.
In a final year, she received less student finance than previously, and was no longer able to work part-time to help make up the deficit. Unfortunately, her mother also had a stroke and needed 24-hour assistance. Throughout the academic year, she travelled back to look after her mother whenever she could, including just before sitting exams. This added pressure meant she went to see a psychologist to deal with the stress.
However, she bravely reached out for help: ‘The financial strain proved to be a huge burden on my studies and the BDA Benevolent Fund was there for me every step of the way, lifting a huge weight off my shoulders. Considering all the obstacles I faced, I do not think I would have graduated this year without this help.’
She continued, ‘I can’t thank the Fund enough and hope to help students who are in similar situations in the future, by donating when I will finally be working as a dentist after the long struggle.’
On another occasion, a well-established dentist was diagnosed with encephalitis and associated epilepsy. The family faced mounting debt, had no income (his wife was also ill with metastasis cancer) and no savings. Adding to their troubles, encephalitis wasn’t listed as a critical illness in their insurance policy.
A friend suggested that the BDA Benevolent Fund might be able to help. Even though he was no longer a member of the BDA, they were able to assess his situation and offer support.
Speaking about his experiences, he commented: ‘I can honestly say I was expecting to be told “sorry we can’t help you”, but when the general manager, Laura, said she would take my case to the Trustees and ask them to look favourably on my situation, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted.
‘The help that the BDA Benevolent Fund provided allowed me the time to sort out our finances and to recover sufficiently to go back to work. I would wholeheartedly recommend the BDA Benevolent Fund to my fellow professionals and would hope that they will continue to support this wonderful organisation. Without their support I really don’t think we would have survived. Thank you.’
Another person who received the BDA Benevolent Fund’s help was a dentist from Leeds, who applied for assistance following a serious road traffic accident. A keen cyclist, he was knocked down by a lorry at a crossroads on the way to work, suffering head injuries as well as fractures in both arms. Working privately meant that, being off work for a few months, he had no income and would be unable to provide for his wife and children. The Charity was able to support him and his family with a grant covering his mortgage and daily living costs for two months. The dentist has since made a good recovery and returned to the profession he loves.
Help is here
No-one knows what is around the corner, so the BDA Benevolent Fund offers help and asks for aid, in turn.
If you, or someone you know are in need, please contact the BDA Benevolent Fund straight away. If you’re worried about your reputation (although there is obviously no shame in needing help), everything is confidential – simply call 020 7486 4994.
If you are able to make a donation, please visit this page or send cheques payable to ‘BDA Benevolent Fund’ to BDA Benevolent Fund, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS.
For more information, visit www.bdabenevolentfund.org.uk.
Image by alexbrn Modified by Steve Van Russelt