IET Connect was originally founded as a benevolent fund to support members of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. As the Institution grew and merged to become the Institution of Engineering and Technology, so did we, and in 2006 we became known as IET Connect.
The Benevolent Fund was established to help members the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and the widows and children of deceased members, in poverty. The first donation came from Sir David L Salomons, Bart. and other notable early donors include: Sir William Preece, Alexander Siemens and Hugo Hirst, Founder of GEC (General Electric Company).
The first recorded grant was given for £20.
An appeal was started for a ‘homes fund’, the appeal received two very generous donations which have shaped the history of IET Connect and have allowed it to become the organisation it is today.
One member gave “A deferred option of using his house and garden with its furniture and equipment as a home for aged, infirmed or convalescent members". The second, Charles Speirs, offered his house and estate for use in "immediate fulfilment of the objects of the new Fund.” This became known as the Chester’s estate and was used to house people returning from the War.
The first conference of Local Honorary Treasurers (now known as Local Representatives) was held and the Fund was formed into an incorporated body. The Governance that was set out in the then Articles of Association provided for a Court of Governors, consisting of 6 members nominated by the Institution (all having been members of the IEE Council) together with 3 members elected by the Members of the Fund. For many years the Chairmen of the IEE Local Centres (or their nominees) were invited to meetings of the Court of Governors.
The constitution of the Court of Governors was formally changed to: The President of the IEE together with one member nominated by each Local Centre, together with 6 appointed by the IEE Council and 3 members elected by the Members of the Fund.
As the number of Local Centres (now called Local Networks) grew, so did the Court of Governors, with nearly 50 people and it met 3 times a year.
A review took place when it was felt that a body this large could no longer discharge its responsibilities effectively and was costly to administer.
A smaller Board of Trustees was formed with 10 trustees. The Court of Governor's name was changed to 'The Court' and it remained as an 'advisory' body to the Board, representing the regional centres and members.
Market research was carried out with members to ensure the Fund was keeping pace with Members' needs; it became clear that financial assistance was only one aspect of need, yet many people required a range of other advice and support.
Our first ever non-financial service was introduced in the form of the legal helpline.
The charity changed its name and became known as IET Connect, the IET Benevolent Fund, following the merger of the IEE with the IIE, to become the IET. While it was still registered as the IET Benevolent Fund, the new name was introduced as the term benevolent fund could be perceived that grants were the only form of assistance available.
An individual employment support programme (outplacement) was introduced to help members who had been made redundant to get back into work. The success of this programme including one-to-one sessions with a career consultant has been immense and we have supported over 100 people in the last 12 months.
The decision was made to sells Speirs House and a fund was set up to help towards the costs of disability, including care, equipment and support for carers. Hundreds of people's families have been and will continue to be assisted with the proceeds.
IET Connect moved from Savoy Place to High Holborn to much more suitable and accessible offices. As the Charity has grown and developed over the years, with hundreds of people being assisted in different ways, the number of staff has increased to cover all of its roles and responsibilities. Today there are 10 members of staff all working from an office in Central London and covering all aspects of the charity, including finance, governance, marketing, administration and delivery of grants and services, and most of all, the dedicated in-house helpline where people can speak directly to a specialist member of the IET Connect team if they are concerned about something or facing difficulty and need advice, support or financial help. Last year we spent £720,000 in grants alone in addition to £450,000 in other types of support.