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Celebrating 175 years of support to the profession

April 2016 marks a significant milestone for both the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the profession’s independent charity Pharmacist Support. Together we celebrate 175 years of support to the profession, providing us with a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our own paths.

It has been quite the journey from the organisation from which we both evolved, established by Jacob Bell and colleagues back in 1841. Today the RPS is seeking royal college status and its Benevolent Fund, now an independent organisation, has expanded its support offering and, in the past seven years, has seen a 280% increase in service use. Since its relaunch as Pharmacist Support in 2008 the charity has provided over 10,000 acts of support to pharmacists and their families, former pharmacists, preregistration trainees and MPharm students in need.

In this time we have seen a number of developments. Many people remember the days of Birdsgrove House, for example, a place of recuperation and rest for the profession for some 60 years. Sadly it was sold in 2006 due to a decline in use and escalating costs. However, the charity has ensured that its support lives on through its proceeds and continues to provide similar assistance, where needed, to those in the profession seeking support following an illness, or facing debilitating conditions.

Alongside well established services such as financial assistance in times of hardship, service users have also benefitted from a shift in focus to provide a more proactive, tailored service that is reflective of the issues facing today’s pharmacists and pharmacy students. This support includes well-being services (a listening ear helpline, telephone counselling, e-therapy and online support tools), an information and enquiry service, debt, benefits and employment advice, addiction support, careers coaching and a student bursary scheme.

More information about our journey is available via the online timeline on our website www.pharmacistsupport.org.

Everyday Pharmacist Support helps people facing difficult challenges in life. We understand the complications and uncertainty that results from situations such as a loved one falling ill or a sudden loss of work. With demand for this support increasing, however, the need for a sustainable income also increases. As a charity Pharmacist Support relies on the generosity of pharmacists and pharmacy organisations to be able to continue our work, be that as donors, fundraisers or volunteers. As part of our anniversary activities we have set ourselves the ambitious target of raising £175,000 across the year and have already recruited 90 fundraising heroes — individuals, universities and organisations — to help us achieve this. Those wanting to find out more about how to support our work can contact us via telephone (0161 441 0317), email (fundraising@pharmacistsupport.org) or visit our website for further information.

Diane Leicester-Hallam, chief executive

Peter Noyce, chair

Pharmacist Support

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201062

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