Shoulder to shoulder with all who serve.
Many of you will have contributed to the Poppy Appeal over the last two months of the old year, and you may be interested to know how your money will actually help our heroes. Our contribution this time was over €8500 and this along with all the money collected from all over the world, will be used in some of the ways described below.
In partnership with the Ministry of Defence and Help for Heroes the Legion has pledged £30 million (over 10 years) to provide and operate the Battle Back Centre, an adaptive sports and outdoor facility based in Lilleshall in the West Midlands. A further £20 million has been pledged to the four Personnel Recovery Centres, in Catterick, Colchester, Edinburgh and Tidworth. The aim of these is to support Service personnel returning from conflicts in Afghanistan, and other places to regain their physical and mental fitness.
Thirty wounded and sick Service personnel were brought together to form Bravo 22 company, a theatre group who performed a play in the West End, which was based on their experiences, The group took on all aspects of the production, and have received standing ovations from packed houses in the West End and at the Edinburgh Festival. The initiative was aimed at improving confidence, self awareness and motivation, particularly for those who are trying to adapt to civilian life again.
Other initiatives include a “Medicinema” for those at Headley Court – an MOD centre for injured Service personnel. Admiral Nursing Service helps to support dementia sufferers and their carers.
Funding is also provided for “Blast Injury Studies” at Imperial College London, where civilian engineers and scientists work with military doctors to find ways to reduce the effects of roadside bombs or IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) which are the leading cause of death or injury in recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Armed Forces community is facing a “perfect storm” of health and welfare needs in coming years as the legacy of Afghanistan and Iraq. Family life in the Forces comes with unique pressures which can include bereavement, injury and long term separation. With reduced numbers in the services, it is obvious that many young men and women will be returning to civilian life at a time of austerity and economic shrinking which is bound to have an effect on their resumption of normal life. Some will be medically discharged and needing assistance, while others will be dealing with the isolation, loneliness and depression that can result from dislocation. There is also a growing need of help for the ageing WW2 generation to be considered.
I have written about the larger projects, but on a day-to-day basis the RBL provides help and support to all the ex-service and currently serving people and their families who need it.
By 2020 research shows that 1.8 million people in the Armed Forces community will be living with longstanding illness, 800,000 will be isolated socially, having little or no contact with family or friends, and 700,000 will be living below the poverty line.
From all of this you will see why The RBL works so hard to fulfil the commitments it has made and how much each contribution is appreciated. As the saying goes “Every little helps” and every penny matters, so Thank You to all who gave, and I hope that I have commended the cause of the Royal British Legion to you.
PR Nerja Branch RBL