Legion rebranding its welfare services.

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by hansvonhealing, Jun 5, 2006.

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  1. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2211012,00.html

    A good article from 'The Times' detailing the hardships suffered by many ex-service men and women.

    ''Nearly half of the adult ex-Service community have a long-term illness, disability or infirmity, and 1.7 million have multiple conditions, yet at least 500,000 are not receiving the help, advice and support that they need.

    Four million veterans and their dependants live on a net income of less than £10,000 a year, with many facing hardship and difficulty finding work after leaving the forces. Demand for the legion’s welfare services is highest among those discharged from the Forces within the past five years''

    ''research commissioned by the legion found that only 7 per cent of the 10.5 million-strong ex-servicemen and women used the legion’s support services last year.

    Sue Freeth, the legion’s director of welfare, said that many more ex-servicemen and women and their families could benefit from the legion’s help if they knew what was on offer.

    “A lot of younger ex-Service people think of the legion as an old man’s drinking club. In fact it is much more than that,” she said.

    “Our welfare services range from care homes and advice on pensions and compensation claims, to business loans and war cemetery visits.”
  2. As a case worker with the British Legion and have been for years . the hardest part of the work is getting ex service people and their dependants to accept help . The regular reply is ...... we can manage , what about those worse off?...... although we have to have details to prove they served that comment always makes me sure they have worn the uniform.
    The Legion can and does help extremely quickly once we know of a case. Please don't blame the Legion ... we can hardly go round knocking on doors asking if the have been in the Services and need any assistance.
  3. Of course, if veterans were cared for properly in the first place, reliance on help would be reduced. Veterans in this country are third class citizens. I have heard of cases where ex-servicemen are refused social benefits due to the fact they have a pension. The Legion is a great organisation, but it does need a change of image.
  4. The British Legion is facing a major challenge in the next decade or two, and I suspect this is part of its response. The vast bulk of ex-servicemen and women are pensioners (WW2 vintage) and are dying out. They have been the main element of the Legion's support for many years and their passing will be difficult. It remains to be seen whether the much smaller post-WW2 armed forces will produce the critical mass of both support and need (in terms of services) that the Legion requires to keep functioning.

    On a slightly sceptical note, what is a veteran? Someone who didn't complete basic training before leaving or being booted out? A guy who did National Service in the 50s whose social circumstances now are totally unrelated to his military record? Or the 22 year person, with or without operational experience? Should we go down the Australian and US route of setting minimum criteria for qualification?
  5. I worl for the RBL as well as a tour guide. I am surprised how little recruits find out about the RBL from their training staff.

    The legion is the nearest thing that servicepeople have to a trade union and can be very effective in fuigbhting cases for benefits and pensions. In many cases the government will not giove away money unless it is forced to. Ex soldiers have a lot more chance if they have assistance from the legion. Some of the effort spent re the Federation ought to be used to support the legion in its work.
  6. I'm still serving and due out next year, I have also been a paid member of the RBL for some 6 years. The RBL should be introduced early in Phase 1 for all recruits and the option and benefits of joining explained. they could increase their numbers and stop this image of "old mans drinking club".
  7. RBL have always been brilliant. They even look out for FCO soldiers. i had a Ghnaina soldier whose mother was ina car crash and ina coma, MOD wouldn't pay to get him home because his wife was his NOK and in UK- RBL paid for the flight. I have also seen them be very helpful to those who are trying to take legal action againt MOD/ get a disability/war pension. They really deserve out support.
  8. If I may add my thoughts, I am a member of BLESMA so have some qualification to talk on Vetrans affairs.

    I am deeply concerned at the proliferation of Armed Forces Charities. The RBL, BLESMA, Combat Stress and many more do a fantastic job for thier members and have done so for many years. It is inevitable that the members and or recipients are reducing and fast.

    Do we need all of these seperate charities? The list is endless, from Yeomanry Sqn Charitable organisations all the way through to SAAFA and ABF. What is required is a real rationalisation of resources, think of all the money wasted on adminstration, advertising and fundraising.

    One overiding Non-Governmental Organisation, that is dedicated to all service personnel (serving, injured and veteran) and thier decendants, widows etc is, I believe a real way forward. Please can we have a really constructive discussion about this.

    Moderator if you believe this deserves a seperate thread I am in your hands.
  9. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    I think the difficulty with bringing all armed forces charity under one organisation is that it will take away the reason so many people become involved - to give something back, or help out with something close to their hearts. With that often comes knowledge and experience peculiar to a specific group, and an understanding, and it is often that which enables help to be most appropriately targeted.

    Then there's the question of how funds would be allocated to various projects; in my view it would lead to some of the smaller stuff falling by the wayside, and to people who volunteer giving up. One can only imagine the circus that would surround appointment to the main board, as all the retired senior officers from the larger charities jockeyed for position.

    Take, for example, the Not Forgotten Association, a small charity that buys televisions and licences for disabled servicemen and ex-servicemen, gives them days out and occasional entertainments. These may seem like small things, but they are immensely important. Those wounded in Iraq have benefitted as much as those from earlier conflicts; anyone who has languished with D&V in the field hospital at Shaibah has probably watched a DVD provided by the NFA. It's largely run by retired personnel with a small but efficient HQ; they are flexible and willing to adapt to new situations or needs. If it were subsumed into a huge organsation the spirit and comradeship of the branches would be lost and the volunteers would drift away.
  10. Another question is whether ex-servicemen/women should have to rely on charity in the year 2006.
    Certainly the Government has a duty to provide decent pensions and benefits to those who qualify - unfortunately, many deserving people miss out because they are not told they qualify. Government Agencies are encouraged to let Charities provide help because it reduces their budget. Charities should be careful not to let this happen because, as 'OldTimer' says, ex-services people have their pride.
    Charities can, obviously, provide the 'jam' like DVD players to the wounded but SHOULD NOT provide the 'bread and butter' - that's the Governments responsibilty, let's not let them slide out of it.
    Where Charitable Organisations like the Legion should be going is to provide ex-servicemen/women with decent advice and, if needed, representation so they get what they are entitled to under Law.
  11. Viro

    I can only agree with everything you say. However, there is a question of sustainability going forward. I know that BLESMA is looking very hard at the long term (out to 2010) future and viability of the excellent communal homes it provides around the country, the NFA use them as part of thier activities. The harsh reality is that the vast majority of BLESMA members are now dead, the current conflicts, accidents and other causes are not going to fill (thankfully) the homes going forward. We know that this is also the case for many more charities that had thier origins in the major conflicts of the 20th century. The Leonard Cheshire homes to name but one. It is also, as pointed out by others, a case of a change in society that people are less willing to become (with the best will in the world) institutionalised in this type of accomodation.

    I am not supplying answers here but asking real questions that many charities will have to address in the next few years, the funding of many charites with 20th century origins could also be threatened by a public that sees no current relevance - hence the Legion looking to rebrand and reimage.

    Charity will always be part of the framework of British life and long may it remain so.
  12. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Whilst I agree that some of the charities set up in the wake of WWI & II have a reducing membership and support, sadly, for Combat Stress [ which was set up in 1919 ] the current engagement in Iraq and elsewhere has meant that the charity had 759 new referrals in 2005.

    The charity has 7,057 Veterans registered with the Society.

    Combat Stress estimates it will be required to cater for an estimated 800 new referrals in 2006.

    [source: CS News Winter 2006 http://www.combatstress.org.uk/downloads/CSNewsJan06.pdf ]

    Le Chevre