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Film and TV Charity - Film and TV Charity
Last updated April 2021

Member Spotlight: Film & TV Charity

We spoke to the Film and TV Charity about how their charity has changed their focus in recent years and how they have been supporting those in the film and TV industries through the pandemic. 

The Film and TV Charity, formerly the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund, has a rich history of supporting individuals working behind the scenes in the film, TV and cinema industries that dates all the way back to 1924.

In 2018 we found ourselves at a crossroads and grasped the opportunity to become a more forward-looking and inclusive organisation that more meaningfully serves the industry as it looks today. This commenced an exciting and ongoing journey to continue to honour the benevolent fund’s legacy while also readily embracing the fundamental need to develop our offering to meet the requirements of individuals working in a dynamic and ever-evolving industry.

One structural change that was effected quickly following our rebrand was the development and launch of the Film and TV Charity Support Line in 2018, a unique 24/7 resource that offers information, signposting and guidance to our community while also acting as a gateway to a roster of more targeted support.

The scope of that support ranges from the pragmatic to the systemic. Financial support is still an important part of who we are, and support grants earmarked for urgent need are still available while we undergo a structural review ahead of the launch of a new suite of core grants and services to be unveiled in the autumn. Increasingly, though, our beneficiaries are also making use of practical support as diverse as access to counselling and legal advice through to CV clinics and other practical resources.

The charity has also taken significant steps to focus on the mental health of the film and TV industry. We launched the Looking Glass survey back in 2019 and the results highlighted a deep-rooted culture of mental health problems that tracks far higher than in the general population. 

Our response to those findings was The Whole Picture Programme, intended as a 10-year project to make the entire industry a healthier place to work. As well as advancing the support offered through our Support Line, we’ve also recently launched a Bullying Pathway Service among the first deliverables from the Whole Picture Programme, and there’s a genuinely exciting agenda of activity to come, rooted in systemic behaviour change and community support. The Whole Picture Programme has been developed and indeed co-funded by an engaged and impassioned group of industry stakeholders and partner organisations and typifies the partnership-first approach we are fostering with the industry at large.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a seismic and well-publicised impact on the entertainment industry in general. A huge proportion of the film and TV industry’s workforce are freelancers, many of those weren’t eligible for furlough or government support and so we’re enormously proud of the fact that we were able to mobilise the charity, and its donors, to raise £6.4 million to offer support to thousands of colleagues through two Covid support funds, including a programme of holistic, wrap-around support in our Covid Recovery Fund, as well as with other financial and wellbeing services.

The pandemic also coincided with the equally seismic Black Lives Matter movement. The Looking Glass survey highlighted that Black, Asian and ethnic minority colleagues were more likely to suffer from poor mental health or experience discrimination, interpersonal or systemic racism, and the charity has been amongst many to realise that our own historic response to that has not been as robust as it should.

As a first step to rectifying that, we launched a programme of community grants in 2020 that including a targeted fund for Black, Asian and ethnic minority groups. It’s a small step on a much longer process to invoke meaningful change but it is also one that demonstrates that the issues of industry inclusivity and mental health are intrinsically linked, and so it feels appropriate that, as we continue on our programme of change, these two areas combine to drive much of our focus.