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netribution > features > interview with ctbf > page two

Where is the home?
Its in Wokingham in Berkshire and it operates as both a residential and a convalescent home. There’s room for about 45 people in the main building but at the moment there's only around 20 in there so we are looking for bodies to fill it! It costs the same for us whether it’s full or empty. In addition, we've got six two-bedroom cottages, four two-bedroom bungalows and three flats in converted stable blocks in the grounds. The latter are for people who want to live in a secure environment but would like to maintain some level of independence and, again, we are always actively looking for people who want to retire or convalesce there. Its really very beautiful.

How many of you work here?
Hillary - 10 in this office and I suppose another 10 around the country. The fund has been maintained very well by people in the industry for a very long time but the emphasis has changed so much, word of mouth has gone and people aren't staying in the same job for 40 or 50 years any more. It's now made up of a lot of a very small companies, when the fund started there were five companies in the film industry and it remained like that for very many years. Even when the commercial television companies were incorporated there were still only ten, now everything has changed, there are literally hundreds of companies with thousands of freelancers so it's much more difficult for us to disseminate the information. it's a constant battle to try to let people know what it is we do here to and how we could help them if they needed it.

How do you let these companies know what you do?
A good example is the mail out we did at last year's Grand Draw. We posted information to over 800 companies and, I think, only 80 or 90 actually replied. 10% isn't a bad return for a mail out but we can't help thinking that there are people in the industry that don't know how we can help them.Sandra - The difficult thing is that we can't describe what we do in a sound bite. Our main tool is the newsletter, it's very cheap to produce, it keeps people up to date and its circulation has grown from 2000 to 10,000 very quickly. I think there will come a time when we will have to approach all 280,000 odd people in the industry, either through a blanket email or otherwise, to tell them who we are. From there we could perhaps ask them to donate £1 per month from their salary so that they know that we are there for them if the worst comes to the worst.

Do you cover the whole country?
Absolutely, in fact we have beneficiaries living abroad, as long as you've worked in the British Industry you are entitled to help from us. We've had cases where the person has retired abroad, decided to move back and have had trouble selling their house for whatever reason. Everybody's life is different which means that every case is unique and we treat them as unique. Our beneficiaries range from two years of age, obviously a child of a working beneficiary, to someone aged 104! Grants can be as little as £10 per week to subsidise a state pension and can go up to thousands of pounds for medical bills or emergency house repairs, whatever the case maybe. Emergencies can be dealt with within 24 hours but the processing of any grant will never take more than a week.

How did you both get into this?
- I used to work in the pre-release feature film and TV programme publicity. I did that for about five years until I worked on a film that was to be shown at The Royal Film Performance in 1989, that was where I found out about CTBF. I hadn't heard about them before that, turned out I was working on the same street as them but that was where I found out about the appeals and PR job available here.Hilary - I came here a year ago straight from university where I was studying media and communications.Sandra - We were originally looking for a receptionist but she's so good that she's now working alongside me!

The Cinema & TV Benelovent Fund is based in London’s Golden Square and can be contacted by phone on - 0207 437 6567 or can be faxed on - 0207 437 7186. Anyone can donate but, to receive benefit you need to have worked in the British Film/TV industry for at least 2 years. If you are a company, the CTBF organise some superb annual events for great prices, you never know, we may be there as well.

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