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Requests for support from those in our industry that have fallen on hard times have risen significantly over recent months, the Butchers' and Drovers' Charitable Institution (BDCI) reports.

The charity said there had been a gradual increase in the total number of applications received over the last three years. However, applications received between 1 January and the end of March 2009 represent almost 50% of the 2008 total. If the trend continues, the total number of applications could reach in excess of 120 over the year.

The BDCI said this growth reflects an increasing awareness of the charity's work following its recent information and awareness building programme. The increasing financial pressure as a result of the current economic situation is also a key driver and has had a significant impact on some households. Increasingly, those in need, and those close to them know where they can turn in difficult times.

It is the members of the charity's General Purposes Committee who consider and approve all applications.

"Membership of the General Purposes Committee is drawn from across the industry, ensuring all sectors have a voice. Our role is to ensure the charity divests its resources and moneys in an appropriate manner," commented trustee Ian Kelly. "Support to those in need is the reason for BDCI's existence, and so approving applications is a key function within the overall structure of the charity."

The BDCI's support is provided across a broad demographic and is representative of today's society, ranging from younger individuals and families who have fallen on difficult times due to illness or disability, through to older folk who have become infirm and perhaps housebound. All have worked in or been closely associated with our industry.

Applications for assistance can be submitted to BDCI either by contacting the office on 01727 896094 or by visiting the charity's website www.bdci.uk.com, where an application form is available for completion.

Importantly, each application is treated with the greatest sensitivity, initially by the administrative team, and then by the charity's General Purposes Committee. Applicants are requested to provide details of their needs and what help and response would best assist them. This to make certain that the most appropriate support is provided.

The committee also has a duty to ensure that applicants and their requests are genuine. This is an essential area of responsibility for the charity's trustees.

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