SSAFA today

Who we help and what we do

SSAFA today

SSAFA provides lifelong support to men and women in the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the British Army and the Royal Air Force, and their families. We also work with veterans of all ages to help them settle into life and work outside the Forces.

Our promise

Founded in 1885, we are the oldest national charity supporting the three Armed Forces, and we are immensely proud of our history. But we know that times are changing, along with the needs of our beneficiaries.

As needs change, we will adapt and improve our services to make sure the people we support get the help they need, now and in the future. 

Who we help

Our support covers both regulars and reserves in the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the British Army and the Royal Air Force and their families, including anyone who has completed National Service. They are all entitled to lifelong support from SSAFA, no matter how long they have served. 

Our recent research shows that service leavers aged 25-64 need more specialised support. The challenges they face are complex – from low income to life-changing injuries or hidden wounds, like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Armed with this information, we are improving our services for younger, working-age veterans, and we will make sure they know we’re here when they need us.

What makes us unique?

We’ve been supporting the Armed Forces for more than 130 years. We support thousands of people in the UK and on military bases around the world. But it’s not just this that makes us unique.

The needs of serving men and women and of veterans are becoming more diverse as the world and military landscape changes. So we work hard to make sure our services are flexible. We constantly adapt them to fit with people we support and what they need. This means we can offer everyone we work with a range of tailored services to help them navigate life in and beyond the military.

SSAFA works in partnership with other military charities and specialist organisations to ensure that those who turn to us for help get the support they need.​​

Welfare advice and support

Addiction, relationship breakdown, debt or homelessness. Whatever challenges they’re facing, the Armed Forces community can rely on SSAFA and our volunteers to help them through it. Our network of over 6,000 committed volunteers worldwide offer welfare support for people from throughout the military community, from Second World War veterans to the families of young service personnel wounded in Afghanistan. Our network of branches provide help for veterans and their families in the community. Our service volunteers work on military bases to help families meet the challenges of service life.

Health & Social Care services

Our professional staff give direct support to serving personnel and their families in the UK and overseas through contracts to the NHS and Ministry of Defence. Our doctors, nurses, midwives and social workers deliver health and community care for British Forces worldwide.

We also provide Personal Support and Social Work Services at RAF bases throughout the UK and social work support across the world.

Specialist services

Armed Forces families face unique challenges and so it is important that we provide services that address their specific needs. These services address a variety of unique welfare needs and issues experienced by military families:

What we do continued

Services for children

Armed Forces families can find it difficult to access the services they need because they move so often. Our staff and volunteers are here to help with:


Our accomodation meets the different needs of the serving and veterans communities:

  • Norton Homes provides free accommodation for the families of service men and women receiving long-term medical treatment
  • Short-term accommodation at our Stepping Stone homes is free of charge for women and children experiencing relationship breakdown
  • Accomodation for service men and women and their spouses, widows or widowers at the Royal Homes in Wimbledon

Through our charitable services, health and social care contracts and specialist services, we helped and supported over 67,000 people worldwide in 2016.

How we're run

Where we are

SSAFA provides support wherever it is needed in the UK and worldwide:

  • Our volunteer network reaches into every county of the UK and 10 countries around the world
  • Volunteers in our 92 branches provide advice and support to veterans and their families living in local communities
  • Our service committees work on Army garrisons, RAF stations and Naval establishments with 68 committees across the UK and wherever our Forces are based worldwide

Our health care and social work services support the Armed Forces community in 10 countries including the UK.

How we fund our work

Our charitable work is financed by contributions from benevolent funds, generous donations from members of the public and the profits generated by our Health and Social Care department who are contracted by the NHS and Ministry of Defence to provide direct support to serving personnel and their families in the UK and overseas.

Find more detail about how we fund our services in our reports and publications.