10 things you didn’t know about the RACF
The Royal Artillery Charitable Fund has been around a while and is there for every Gunner – both serving and veterans. But do you really know what it’s for and how it can help? Here are the top 10 things you should know about the RACF.
1. The RACF is older than the discovery of electricity.
The earliest Gunner Welfare Charity for NCOs and men was a friendly society formed in 1839 in Woolwich. It was formed by a group of Gunner officers who were concerned for soldiers’ wives left behind when their husbands went on foreign service. The RACF was set up to support all officers and soldiers and their dependants, whether serving or retired, divorced or widowed. It is there to help all members of the Gunner Community – whatever the cause and at any time in their lives. We can help financially or be supportive in connecting Gunners with other parts of our community. Since the 1950s, the RACF has been the major benevolence charity for the Gunners and has helped many retired and serving soldiers and their descendants in need. Anyone associated with a Gunner (such as a wife, ex-wife and child) can apply to the fund. There are no limits on the number of applications, providing each addresses a different need. Each case is awarded on its own merits and the RACF tries to assist everyone it can, within reason.
2. Is there an age limit the RACF can help?
No. The youngest person the fund has helped is a 9-month-old baby. The eldest Gunner the fund has helped was 105 years old.
3. The RACF isn’t just for financial support.
We offer lots of different types of support. We will help with anything that we consider to be a need, such as funeral grants, priority debt, mobility support and the provision of domestic goods to name but a few. As well as the financial support provided, the emotional support of just knowing that you belong to the extended Gunner family should not be underestimated. The RACF can also put you in touch with the Royal Artillery Association who is there to offer emotional support and can often be the first point of call for a veteran who is missing some comradeship.
4. The RACF can help with community projects.
Many people within the Gunner community don’t realise that we can help with community projects. We have recently provided a defibrillator for the Fargo ammunition compound on the edge of Salisbury. We also contributed to the new Thorney Island Community Centre. It’s always worth asking us to see if we can help. Ring us on 01980 634309 and find out how we might be able to support your schools and local community.
5. The RACF is not just for veterans
Sometimes, there is a misconception that the RACF can only be used by veterans, which is not the case. You are eligible to apply for an RACF grant if you or your dependant has served in the Royal Artillery for a minimum of 24 hours, and you are in need of support. If you are not sure whether you are eligible, check in with your welfare officer (if you are serving), or if you are a former Gunner and you need some help financially, contact SSAFA Forces line on 0800 7314 880 or The Royal Artillery Charitable Fund on 01980 634309. The RACF also supports the serving regiment by giving £65,000 every year to Gunner Sport, which is shared out across different sport disciplines.
6. The RACF helps the Invictus Games
There are many sporting projects which have received funding but one that everyone recognises is The Invictus Games. Allan Izzard is one of the sportspeople who has received help from the RACF. He says:
“I did an archery taster session with H4H and then joined a local club, but I needed my own equipment which is what the RACF has helped with. When I tried to speak to other organisations for support, it was a nightmare. And then I remembered the RACF and applied. From initial email to getting the equipment was 3.5 weeks and the experience of applying was brilliant. I got to trials for the Invictus Games in 2018, and I’ve just been selected to take part in the Warrior Games this coming June.”
7. The RACF helps over 1,000 cases every year
The number of applications/funds in 2017/2018 were as follows:
In 2017, we helped 1,129 cases totalling £636,392.
In 2018, we helped 1,086 cases totalling £647,187.
The number of applications has reduced for several reasons. There are fewer Gunners than there were 20 years ago, but there has also been a misconception that the RACF is for veterans, which isn’t the case. We are working on getting that information out.
8. The RACF can help with more than you realise
There is not much the fund can’t help with. We can help with domestic help such as getting a new fridge or washing machine, and support for projects in schools and the local community. We cannot help with ongoing costs such as private medical costs and legal fees but we can help with care home fees and annual grants for single pensioners who are eligible. We do have maximum grants for funerals, care home fees and annuities but it’s worth checking with us first. As a rule we do not accept retrospective requests so it is worth phoning for advice before committing yourselves to unaffordable costs.
9. The RACF works with other organisations to offer help
Our grants are awarded based on any service with the Gunners, so even if you have served in another Regiment and applied to them for support, you are still eligible to apply to the RACF. We work together with SSAFA, the Royal British Legion and other military charities. We are able to sometimes share the financial requirement to ensure the best result for the person who has applied.
10. The RACF has access to 163 Royal Artillery War Memorial Homes throughout the UK
The Royal Artillery Charitable Fund handed occupation and maintenance control of 163 RA War Memorial Homes to Haig Homes, but we are able to support RA Veterans should they wish to occupy one. We also administer 4 RA Cottage Homes at Colchester and Bath. Our aim is to support Gunners throughout their lives. The RACF supports all its Gunner veterans who are residents in the Royal Hospital Chelsea engaging with them throughout the year and remembering them at Christmas.
Still not sure if the RACF can help?
We’re here to support you, so please reach out to us if you need some help. If you are serving, speak to your Army Welfare Officer and if on sick leave your PRU (Personnel Recovery Unit). You can also apply now through the website, email us at email@example.com or ring us on 01980 634309.