Each issue we speak to an ABTA employee about their work. This time, it’s Trudie Clements, director of ABTA LifeLine, ABTA’s charity arm.
I’m the director of ABTA LifeLine, ABTA’s charity arm, which was launched back in 1988. At the time, someone approached ABTA because there was a colleague in the industry who was seriously ill and needed some financial help, and from there the ABTA Benevolent Fund was set up. It was based on members contributing to this fund to help people, and it grew from there: in the past 30 years, we’ve awarded more than £1 million in grants.
In 2012, we rebranded and relaunched as ABTA LifeLine. We’re here to help people who have worked for, or are currently working for, an ABTA member, ABTA itself and people who are engaged in the sale of ABTA products by granting financial awards. We tailor every award to the individual, and our LifeLine stretches far and wide – we provide a range of support to people who might need help with day-to-day living costs, utility bills, rent or mortgage arrears and essential household items. Sometimes things happen that we aren’t expecting. We are able to help with basic funeral costs, help set up home again, or help with training to get you back into work. And we also help with those life-changing events, such as an accident, health condition, or a sick child. We can help with purchasing disability aids, respite breaks, special equipment or even help get you to your hospital appointment.
Poverty really hits our industry. Last year, we gave out £4,000 in food vouchers, but in the first few months of this year we’ve already given out £2,250. We help with priority bills, too, if someone is at risk of losing their house, and we help out with bankruptcy if necessary. We’re already up on applications this year; we’re seeing a lot of people who need help financially. I think that’s down to the economic climate and because our profile is growing. We’re also working directly with members and we want to do that more, by speaking with HR teams.
My role is very varied, no two days are the same. The first thing is raising funds but the second is raising our profile, making sure people in the industry know we’re here and can help if they need. One side of my job is dealing with the applications that come in, but there’s also the fundraising and the business development sides. For example, I’ve just been up Snowdon with the Freedom Travel Group; there were more than 45 of us walking and we managed to raise more than £6,000, so that was brilliant.
We have lots of events throughout the year. On May 3 we have our Big Charity Day where we are asking everyone to Go Troppo for LifeLine; put on your best tropical outfit and donate £1. You can host a tropical bake sale, hold a hula-hooping competition or host a mocktail- or cocktail-making class. It’s about getting our members involved in raising awareness of the support LifeLine can give their employee community as well as raising vital funds. On July 3, we’ve got our Manchester dinner at the Lowry Theatre – a night of dinner, music, dancing and fundraising. Then we’re taking part in the Travel Trade Crusade, a mad road trip across Europe. It’s great fun and raises a lot of money. On July 11, we are doing a charity regatta in partnership with the Family Holiday Association, then we’ve got a break before our London dinner on September 19 and the Travel Convention In Tokyo. This year, we are charity partners with the Freedom Travel Group, who have raised almost £10,000 for us already, and Avis Budget Group, who are supporting us with a number of events. In Japan we will together be hosting a charity cycle ride around the Imperial Palace and Gardens.
It’s the most rewarding job you can do when you see the results and the difference you can make. We have come a long way but I often say we’re the industry’s best-kept secret – we don’t want to be; we want to do more than ever before to support our travel community. We care for the people who care about travel.
To find out more about ABTA LifeLine, including how to donate, raise funds or apply for grants, see abtalifeline.org.uk