Help during COVID times for members of the Armed Forces Community

SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity is the oldest tri-service military charity that seeks to assist veterans, serving members of HM Forces, reservists and their dependents who may be in need or distress. Everyone is entitled to lifelong support from SSAFA, no matter how long they have served.

The charity has a wide remit of assistance though the focus is primarily on providing direct support to individuals in need of physical or emotional care. Addiction, relationship breakdown, debt, homelessness, post-traumatic stress, depression and disability are all issues that can affect the members of the  Armed Forces community. Many of these problems only become apparent when an individual has to leave their life in the Forces and join ‘Civvy Street’.  SSAFA is committed to helping our brave men and women overcome these problems, and rebuild their lives.

This incredibly essential charitable work is financed in several ways, including fundraising by organisations, companies and individuals.  Needless to say, the arrival of COVID-19 led to a significant decrease in normal fundraising type activity and therefore a big gap in available essential funds, coinciding at a time when support for many veterans and members of the armed forces was needed more than ever.

SSAFA, therefore, applied for a grant from  The Society of Merchant Venturers to help plug the income gap.  This meant they could continue to provide vital support to those members of the armed force community in Bristol and surrounding areas most in need.  A grant of £5000 was awarded in June 2020 and since August SSAFA has been able to provide beneficiaries with support in many ways including food vouchers and training costs for veterans released from prison, and for those struggling to manage finances, helping with housing priority debts and signposting to other organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau for support.

The impact of the grant has been felt by many, but SSAFA particularly wanted to highlight three specific cases:

We have supported a young veteran who required a heart transplant.  We enabled his wife to be by his side whilst he was in a specialist hospital.  He is now home and recovering well.

We assisted with funeral fees for a 32-year-old veteran who died unexpectedly and suddenly at home.  We supported his mother and fiancé and will continue to support his children until they are adults.

We helped an LGBTQ veteran who had been badly injured whilst in service and is now a wheelchair user, we assisted with home adaptations and he now volunteers for our branch as an IT Officer and fundraising officer.