SPBF 2022 AGM – Chair’s Address

At the recent 2022 AGM held on Monday 15th August at The Scottish Police Treatment Centre, Castlebrae, Auchterarder, Cath McInally, the outgoing Chair of the SPBF gave her annual address to those in attendance, a copy of which is replicated below:

“Can I welcome you all to this year’s, our tenth, Annual General Meeting of the Scottish Police Benevolent Fund and it is a pleasure to welcome you all to Castlebrae where we now used to meeting in person regularly.

In reflection it has been another significant and challenging year for all charities and for those we support. Our financial position has improved since the last year with a surplus improving the bank balance while debtors reduced, these factors a direct result of rigorous application of our guiding principles and a clearer long-term financial view. We continue to have in place a formal financial strategy which will inform our short and long-term budgeting. The number of beneficiaries has decreased on the previous year to 19 but we provided grants totalling £126109.18 and increased the value of loans to £29273.39 which represents strong support to those we have assisted.  The charity has paid out a significant amounts of financial support to individuals and families in need and I will leave our Auditor to deliver the financial status in more detail of the charity over the last year.  I am pleased that the charity is functioning as it should be and continuing to deliver financial support to those who need it most. Once again I will make no apologies for reiterating that we are a charity of last resort and not a first port of call.  We are also not the provider of financial advice but we can assist to signpost those who approach us to appropriate organisations.

As the pandemic progressed we anticipated a flood of applications and saw at the beginning a number of applications where the applicants anticipated financial hardship sometime in the future and requested assistance at that time. These were not supported in line with our guiding principles. A steady number of applications have been submitted over the last year but few directly related to the impact of the pandemic. Few of us last year could have predicted the difficult position we now face as the Cost of Living crisis bites. As prices increase and incomes stagnate our members may be forced to turn to the charity for support. Many are predicting a more challenging financial position for many families with limited support from central sources and it can be reasonable to anticipate the price rises for electricity in particular will disproportionately impact on those relying on medical aids which need power 24/7. All can be reassured that any applications received will  be subject to comparable levels of scrutiny in line with the principles of the fund and support will be provided where financial policy and trustee approval exists.

I’m sure we all appreciate Gary Brown’s concerted and continued efforts to secure various funding sources for this charity. The pandemic has had a bigger impact on all fundraising with a move towards online events and voluntary contributions from viewers however the easing of restrictions may allow traditional fundraising methods to restart and I am confident that the charity is ready to respond to maximise efforts for our beneficiaries. We are realistic that as a small charity we probably do not sit particularly high in the pecking order but Gary has made contacts across fundraising spheres which may be beneficial in the future. The charity will continue to seek funding sources and I again note that the Police Service of Scotland for whom we are their designated charity have contributed no funds since our inception yet continue to support and promote other police related charities.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following individuals and organizations who provide support to the Scottish Police Benevolent Fund:

Mairi McGregor, the charities Treasurer for all her efforts throughout the year to liaise and direct payrolls, manage the applications, negotiate with auditors and generally provide a well-stocked library of historical but relevant information which guides many a Trustee.

Gary Brown, who has managed not only the web-site but has undertaken significant exploration of funding streams since his appointment as part time operations manager.

Stevie Clark, who, while stood down as Secretary last year, remained a valued trustee until his retirement in the summer. I’m sure many of the trustees will continue to use Stevie’s guiding principle that feeling sorry for the situation of others does not automatically transfer to charity funding.

Further thanks go to the Scottish Police Federation, Association of Superintendents and the Retired Police Officers Association who all provide their support directly and indirectly through promoting the charity and providing personnel so that the local committees and the Board of Trustees can deliver and support beneficiaries.

In continuing that theme, the members of the local committees and those who are on the Board of Trustee similarly deserve recognition for the hours that you commit to delivering essential assistance throughout the year.  

It is difficult in terms of our charity to talk about success.  Our constitution provides that the purpose of the Scottish Police Benevolent Fund is the prevention or relief of poverty and the relief of those in need.

During this last year, the charity is supporting 19 new individual beneficiaries.  I will let our auditor highlight the amounts involved.  I should stress that these sums involved are not insignificant and highlight this charities commitment to supporting our members and, often members of the wider police family in times of tragic need.  That commitment will never cease.

In relation to our investments, the global markets have stabilised over the last year and vindicates the advice and decisions at the last  two AGMs to hold onto our existing investments and look to the long term.

Out with the individual beneficiaries that the charity provides, the charity continues to support a number of external causes all of which have a direct link to the Police Service.

While another challenging year for all of us and for the charity we are continuing to support our members through their most difficult of times and we can be reassured that the charity will remain true to the guiding principles which will keep it in a financially stable position for the future.”