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Guest Blog: Film & TV Charity

  • 05/05/2021
  • Author:bridgetmccall

Mike Hird* explains how his charity helps people who work or have worked behind the scenes in film, TV and cinema.

Film cameraman

The Film and TV Charity has a history of supporting individuals working behind the scenes in the film, TV and cinema industries that dates back to 1924.

In 2018, the charity rebranded as it started on a journey to become a more forward-looking and inclusive organisation that meets the needs of individuals working in today’s dynamic and ever-evolving industry. 

Film and TV Charity Support Line

One change that was made quickly following our rebrand in 2018 was the development and launch of the Film and TV Charity Support Line. This is a unique 24/7 resource that offers information, signposting and guidance to our community while also acting as a gateway to more targeted support that includes access to counselling, legal advice, CV clinics and other practical resources.

Financial support

Financial support is still an important part of who we are, and support grants are available to assist people with an unexpected and/or urgent and immediate need for one-off financial support.

To qualify for these support grants, applicants must have at least two-years’ experience working in a behind the scenes role in the UK film, TV or cinema industry and have no access to savings. The grants offered rarely exceed £800, but higher levels of support can be considered, although more evidence will be required to justify increased need. All grant applications are assessed on their own merit.

We are currently undergoing an internal structural review and will be rolling out a new set of core grants and services in the autumn but we encourage those needing support now to get in touch and speak to us about the possibility of a support grant.

Mental health

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 goes 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. 

There is also a genuinely exciting agenda of additional support services to come, rooted in an industry-backed programme of systemic behaviour change and community support.

Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive 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. So we’re enormously proud of the fact that we were able to mobilise the charity, and its donors, to raise £6.4 million. This has been used 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. 

Black Lives Matter

Covid-19 also coincided with the equally massive 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.

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 make 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. 

Find out more

In combination with the practical help the charity has offered for nearly 100 years, these areas of focus combine to mean that we really can offer a helping hand when our industry colleagues need one. 

To find out if we can help you, get in touch by calling the Support Line on 0800 054 0000 or by visiting the Film & TV Charity website

Read the Film & TV Charity profile on the Turn2us Grants Search.

*Mike Hird is Head of Marketing and Communications at the Film and TV Charity.

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