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What we do

We try to help anyone with a genuine need of advice, conversation or material assistance.

Apart from the requirements in our statutes that beneficiaries be British or a dependant (including widows or widowers) and resident in Belgium, there are no rules, except that in practice applicants should have exhausted the normal means of support from family and state agencies. If possible we should like to be repaid eventually when we give temporary financial loans. BCF is willing to look at any case, but will be strict in its assessment, for our resources are limited. Other than that – there are few limits to our involvement! See also FAQs.

 

What we are

BCF is a not-for-profit organisation – an asbl – but, more important, is currently the only registered charity providing for the needs of the British community in Belgium. Every donation of Euro 40 or more is deductible for tax, as authorised by the Ministry of Finance. At current tax rates this means that any gift to the Fund costs the donor only half of the total amount. Similar concessions are uniquely available to BCF for gifts under a will – see LEGACIES below. BCF also acts as the point of contact in Belgium for the Elizabeth Fynn Trust, a UK long-established charity that cares for Britons in financial difficulties.

How we do it

We have an extensive set of contacts in Belgium, both from within BCF itself and from other organisations. Applicants contact us either directly or are referred to us through these links. To save time and cost, and to be able to react quickly, a small group (the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer) assesses immediately whether and what can be done to help and assign a Fund member to visit or contact the applicant and try to assist. Volunteer members of the Fund are long term expatriates who will be able to direct applicants to assistance it they cannot provide it personally. BCF is completely confidential – names and details of help offered are kept srtictly confidential. BCF members give their time and assistance free – as can be seen from the Annual Reports expenses are kept to the absolute minimum.

How we pay for it

Purely by donations and legacies. These come from individuals, assocaiations, clubs, schools and churches. We have no Government subsidies, grants or other income – only the generosity of the British  and English-speaking community. In nine of the last ten years our help given to applicants has exceeded the income that we have received. We have been kept afloat by profits on the investments and by two generous legacies. Neither source can be relied on in the future. In these recessionary times income from investments no longer covers costs. For details of how you can help – click here.  To make a single payment or standing order - click here

Whom do we help?

In 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo when the Fund was created, soldiers and their dependants needed help. In the 21st century the short answer is anyone and everyone with a British connection. Enquiries come in from young and old, long term residents or short term visitors – rich and poor alike! BCF is non-denominational – and tries to be non-judgmental! A telephone call or a mail is all that is needed to see whether we might be able to help. Confidentiality is guaranteed.

Why we do it

Quite simply, because there is a need. Even today, despite the best efforts of many agencies, there are gaps in the provision of social help that can uniquely affect foreigners in Belgium. Health care and social benefits are not interchangeable with those of the UK. There are requirements of registration, waiting periods for entitlements and no automatic right of residence. Contrary to popular belief, whilst EU membership guarantees a right to work in a Member State, those who cannot find work can be deported. Even longer term residents can fall foul of pension legislation, need help with inheritance provisions that are vastly different from those of the UK or help in providing for old age. Younger people may have temporary educational or emotional problems, or simply homesickness or difficulties in adapting to life in Belgium. All of these temporary problems can be exacerbated by language difficulties, and often the awkwardness of coping in the absence of a spouse or parents. Belgium operates an effective “safety net” for severe cases, but it can be helpful, to say the least, to have assistance in navigating round the difficulties.