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The Physics Benevolent Fund: FAQs

Everything you need to know about the long-running Fund.

What is the Physics Benevolent Fund?

The Institute of Physics Benevolent Fund (the Physics Benevolent Fund/the Fund) is a charitable organisation that was established in 1924 by the Institute of Physics’s (IOP) first honorary treasurer, Major CES Phillips. Over the years the Fund has grown through the generosity of members of the IOP, and members are still encouraged to support the Fund by donations and bequests. The Fund provides grants and loans to assist applicants to cope with acute financial need arising from a wide variety of causes.

How is the Fund funded?

The Fund is funded by charity donations past and present, bequests and the interest accrued.

What type of people does the Fund help, and do you need to be an IOP member to apply?

The Fund helps members of the physics community or their dependants. Currently, we have different schemes running and the criteria for eligibility can vary; however, IOP members and Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) members will usually be eligible. Our special scheme to support those affected by COVID-19 requires a minimum membership period of six months before you are eligible to apply for assistance. If in any doubt, please contact us.

Do you need to be above a certain age to receive help from the Fund or is it open to all ages?

The Fund is open to all ages from university/further education level upwards.

What types of situations does the Fund provide help with?

The Fund can help with financial needs arising from a wide variety of causes. Please make contact if you feel we can help.

My colleague is terminally ill, can I apply to the Fund on their behalf?

Yes, you can apply on their behalf, but we will need their written permission for you to act on their behalf in the application process.

Is the Roland Dobbs Fund part of the same Physics Benevolent Fund, and if so, is this for people wishing to seek PhD funding only?

The Physics Benevolent Fund currently has a few differently funded schemes, the Roland Dobbs Fund (made possible by a kind bequest from Professor Roland Dobbs’ estate) being one of them.

The Roland Dobbs Fund is designed to assist doctoral-level students in supporting their studies should they need assistance with associated expenses, for example in attending a conference, or if they encounter a sudden and unexpected change in financial circumstances after beginning their research.

If I apply to the Fund will my application be made public, or does it remain confidential?

Every application, whether accepted or not, is treated in the strictest of confidence and never made public.

How many people has the Fund helped previously? Are there limits on how many people you can help each year?

The Fund has been running since 1924 and has helped many people over the years. There is no limit on how many people we can help each year but our being able to continue to do so will always require continued donations and bequests being received into the Fund.

If I’m not successful, do you provide detailed reasons as to why?

If you are unfortunate enough not to be successful in your application, we will always explain why.

What is the strategic initiative between the Physics Benevolent Fund and the IOP?

The IOP’s strategic plan stresses the importance of achieving a diverse physics community. For many individuals, plans and aspirations to follow a career in physics can be disrupted by unforeseen financial challenges which are exactly the situations in which the Physics Benevolent Fund is intended to provide support. The IOP and the Physics Benevolent Fund are therefore working closely together in an initiative to mutually achieve the IOP’s strategic aim of improving diversity and the Physics Benevolent Fund’s objective of supporting physicists in times of adversity.

How is the Physics Benevolent Fund supporting members (IOP and IPEM) through COVID-19?

In the early days of COVID-19, the Physics Benevolent Fund and the IOP recognised that many in the physics community could be suffering hardship because of a temporary loss of income or other financial challenges caused by the pandemic. That’s why the IOP and the Physics Benevolent Fund have both contributed an additional sum of dedicated funding to provide short-term support to help applicants through difficult times. The scheme will remain in place for as long as it is needed.

Who are the trustees of the Physics Benevolent Fund?

The trustees of the Physics Benevolent Fund are all long-term members of the physics community and many of them have been members of the Council of the IOP, including a former Treasurer and former Honorary Secretaries.

How do I apply and where do I find out more?

Please complete the contact form (Word doc, 13.6KB), or email the Secretary to the Trustees on [email protected].