Who're you going to call?
THE UNION'S human face - that's how some relieved members in need have described the work of the London Freelance branch's welfare officer Chris O'Donnell and her deputy, me.
Chris is the first person LFB members need to contact when things get tough and welfare advice or assistance may be needed. Over the past year there have been a good many such cases referred to the Members in Need Fund and the NUJ Provident Fund or helped in other ways.
Now, Chris is delighted to report on positive feedback: "bouquets from the clients" she says, explaining that she has been getting lots of unexpected phone calls and letters of thanks from members who until they encountered a crisis did not realise that their branch has a listening ear, or could offer advice over claims to the DHSS and guidance over many practical problems as well as just channelling on appeals for financial aid.
"As freelances we can sometimes feel isolated," she says. "But help is usually available at the end of the phone, fax machine or e-mail.
"It has been my experience over the past year that as well as feeling reassured by making immediate contact when they needed help or support, members who have used welfare have begun to attend branch meetings more regularly and even catch up with their subs.
"Because, in their own words, `we did not realise until now that LFB could provide this support'."