Bread Funds are a new way for self-employed people and freelancers to support each other if they become unable to work.
A Bread Fund is a group of 25 to 50 people who contribute money each month into a fund which can support any of its members who become unable to work through illness or injury. It operates by members supporting each other on the basis of mutual trust. Contributions to the fund, and payments by the fund to its members, are in the form of gifts. You can choose from different levels of contributions: the level you choose is related to the income you would like to receive if you become unable to work.
Why it works
If you become unable to work, after 30 days the fund can start providing you with a modest income. This can continue for up to two years, though most people get back to work within a few months. If you decide to leave, you can if you wish to apply for your contributions to be refunded less admin costs and any gifts made, though anyone receiving support must stay a member for at least two years in total.
Bread Funds work because you are relying on people in your network rather than an anonymous insurance company. They are locally based, revolving around trust and co-operation instead of competition. They can offer practical as well as financial support to get your work back on track as you recover from illness. Both examples in this leaflet are based on real people supported by Dutch Bread Funds. Our pilot groups give people in the UK the chance to join the growing number of self-employed people in the Netherlands who support each other through Bread Funds.
I joined a Bread Fund in September 2012. Just three days later, I had a stroke that left me with speech difficulties, stopping me from working as a freelance journalist and events producer.
As a freelancer I couldn’t get sick pay but my Bread Fund provided me with an income until I recovered sufficiently to start work again. I was a bit ashamed to apply so soon, but I was astonished at the support I got from everyone. Because of the fund, I could take the time I needed to fully recover.
In 20 years as a carpenter I had never been off work for more than a week. Then one day, I was working on a machine when a loud bang outside surprised me and I caught my thumb in the machine. I needed an operation to fix it. My Bread Fund supported me financially, and the members sent me messages with practical tips.
I was back at work after three months, and in this time my Bread Fund meant more to me than financial support.
Register your interest
Self-employed? Can’t get sick pay?
Your friends are here to help!
The idea of Bread Funds came from the Netherlands, where there are over 350 Bread Fund groups (Broodfonds in Dutch) with a total of over 15,000 members. Thanks to funding from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, we were able to investigate whether Bread Funds are feasible in the UK as well.
We are now setting up pilot groups to test the idea in the UK. We are starting with two pilot groups in different geographical areas. The membership of each pilot group will be drawn from people who live or work in the area and have been self-employed or freelance for at least a year. As Bread Funds operate on the basis of trust, new members must be accepted by existing members in order to join.
Members of pilot groups need to be flexible, as each group’s experience may result in changes to terms and conditions from what is originally agreed.
If the pilot groups are successful, we hope to make Bread Funds more widely available at a later stage.
020 3632 6862
Bread Funds UK
Impact Hub King’s Cross
34b York Way
London N1 9AB