The Chemists’ Community Fund has never been more important

Looking back to 2019 when we started planning an article to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chemists’ Community Fund is like looking back on another world. One where our children still went to school, the Chemistry World team worked together in an office and getting groceries didn’t require military planning. More importantly, tens of thousands of lives had not been lost to Covid-19 – a word not yet coined for a disease not yet known.

An image showing a woman placing a rainbow drawing on her window

Source: © Getty Images

The Covid-19 crisis has changed many things – but the Chemists’s Community Fund is still there

Back then, my Royal Society of Chemistry colleagues were looking forward to celebrating the anniversary with a gathering of the fund’s volunteers at the RSC’s London headquarters. I’m sure they will now remember 2020 for altogether different reasons – with Covid-19 affecting every single one of our 50,000 members to some extent. The fund’s work has not been so important to our community since its formation in the aftermath of the first world war, when the world was in the grip of another global pandemic.

The world has changed enormously in the century since the fund was established, but many things remain the same. The most significant change in terms of the fund’s work came in the decades immediately following its inception, with the establishment of social safety nets: state pensions, a national health service and unemployment benefits. Fortunately, those now mean that most of the RSC’s members can now avoid the very worst instances of poverty that afflicted people in the past.

An image showing a CCF Zoom call meeting

Fund staff are still working hard to help members in need, even though the RSC offices have been closed since mid-March

What doesn’t change is that people slip through the gaps in any safety net, and that the fund is there to help them. And RSC members still want to help out those who are less fortunate than themselves or who are in need; the fund continues to receive generous donations from members.

You can read a full examination of the vital support the fund offers, and how that has changed down the years, in Rachel Brazil’s feature. The most recent changes to the fund’s purpose could perhaps be explained with the aphorism ‘prevention is better than cure’. The fund aims to prevent members and their loved ones from falling into the kind of situations that would need emergency help. Rather than strictly acting solely to relieve poverty, the fund now supports individual health and wellbeing in its widest sense.

With neither prevention nor cure for Covid-19 in sight as I write, it is clear that the fund’s work in helping members get through this period of extreme difficulty has only just begun.