01 Apr 20. We are here for our Armed Forces Family
As a much-valued supporter of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, I wanted to drop you a line at this unprecedented time of worry and uncertainty to both wish you well and to tell you how we are continuing to support those in need. But before I do that, let me say that I very much hope that you and your loved ones are safe, are in good health and are coping as best you can during this period of social isolation with the ever-present threat of coronavirus that sits with us all.
As you know SSAFA exists to protect and care for those who are vulnerable within the Armed Forces community. We are doing everything we can to continue to deliver support across our services whilst ensuring that Government guidelines are closely followed, and that volunteers, staff and beneficiaries are protected, especially those in high risk categories. Indeed, it is a testament to the dedication of our volunteers and staff that we can keep delivering many of our services during these testing times; the needs of our beneficiaries remain our core priority.
A key part of this support is our confidential helpline ‘Forcesline’. While the team is working entirely remotely, they continue to provide an uninterrupted telephone, email and webchat facility for those who need support or reassurance; concern over isolation and accessing services is a growing issue that they are managing.
Once we know of a serviceperson, veteran or family in need, our Branches are continuing to get in touch at a local level. Conversations are happening using intranet, Skype, Teams, email and phone – though I have to say this ‘technology stuff’ has been a very steep learning curve for many of us, me included!
Where we have a group of younger volunteers – in our Service Committees and within the Military Wives Choirs (an important part of the SSAFA network) – they are increasingly undertaking community tasks for older veterans and more widely.
Alongside this, we are keeping as many of our residential facilities open as possible including: Gildea House, a refuge for women and children who are victims of domestic violence; Fisher House, supporting families of those in hospital and NHS staff in Birmingham; and Queen Alexandra Court which provides independent living to over 70 mainly elderly and frail individuals; And the adoption service is continuing to support families.
Our mentors, helping those transitioning out of the Armed Forces, are busier than ever, not least as people are still leaving the Services and the society they are re-joining is more difficult for them to succeed in than has ever been the case.
Health and Social Care
SSAFA’s health care and social work staff are busier than ever, providing critical support to servicemen and women – and their families, in Germany, North West Europe, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Brunei, Canada, the Falkland Islands and on all United Kingdom Royal Air Force stations under testing and most stressful conditions.
I therefore hope you are delighted to read that we continue to provide a huge range of support to the Armed Forces community. To see regular updates about SSAFA’s services, please do visit our website.
My one ask of you in these unprecedented circumstances is that if you know of a serving member of the Armed Forces, veteran or family member who is struggling and could use our help please, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via Forcesline on 0800 731 4880 or our website.
As I’ve said, we are continuing to provide a broad range of assistance and in many cases, it is more important than ever. And we will sustain that even as we are having to make some difficult decisions about staffing levels to manage the inevitable and significant drop in our income that underpins these activities.
In closing, I just wish to thank you so much for the terrific support you have given, through SSAFA, to those in need who are serving or have served this Nation, and their families. It is not taken for granted and it has never been needed more than now. With your continued compassion and generosity, we will ensure that, together, we are there for those who’ve kept us safe and protected our borders and national freedoms and now need our help.
With my best wishes to you and your loved ones.
Sir Andrew Gregory KBE CB
Controller / Chief Executive