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Local branch contact details
Monday to Friday 09.00-17.00 Contact by Email or Telephone only. For Tutshill, Sedbury, Beachley (Royal Forest of Dean) see Chepstow Gwent.
Phone: 01452 520 255
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SSAFA Joins County's St George's Day Commemoration
Dr Ivan Smart and wife Alison, attend Gloucester Cathedral.
Ivan, who was instrumental in re-establishing the Gloucestershire branch of SSAFA after it had shared accommodation with the British Legion for several years, was recently invited to represent our charity at the St George’s Day service in Gloucester Cathedral.
The event is held annually and this year was attended by HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal.
After relaunching our branch in the county, Ivan also worked as a Caseworker for five years and was accompanied to the service by his wife, Alison.
NEIL’S OUTDOOR CHALLENGE HAS A HAPPY ENDING
It was smiles all round recently when our client, Neil Francis, was able to demonstrate his new ‘all terrain’ wheelchair acquired with funding help from SSAFA Gloucestershire.
Neil has been tetraplegic now for several years and was in need of the special electrically powered chair, to give him more comfort, freedom and access to the countryside with his dog, Bouncer.
Like a lot of things in life, the best things don’t come cheap, and the type of chair Neil needed isn’t available on the NHS, which is why he approached SSAFA for help.
Neil and a number of his friends were already working hard to raise funds to buy the chair, which he says is the equivalent of a ‘go anywhere’ Land Rover to him. With the help of our Volunteer Shelagh Woodhouse, who was able to organise a donation of half the money needed, the new chair is now here. He is seen demonstrating just one of its many abilities, which is to drive safely up inclines, enabling Neil and Buster to take walks in the hilly countryside near his home in Stroud.
SSAFA VOLUNTEER PETA SHOWS THE HIGH SHERIFF LIFE BEHIND BARS
Even the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire isn’t normally guaranteed a full house when he is asked to speak in the County, but there were no empty seats for a recent talk he gave for our volunteer Peta Hoyle…
Peta is SSAFA’s “Prisoner In-Reach” visitor, whose casework involves giving help, advice and counsel to veterans who have ended up serving time behind bars. She asked High Sheriff Charles Martell if he would like to be a guest of Vicky Pails, director of HMP Ashfield and her deputy, Anne-Marie Newman, to speak to the 82 members of its Veterans in Prison Association to mark Armed Forces Day.
It turned out to be a double first -- the first time the High Sheriff had been given such an invitation as well as the first time SSAFA in Gloucestershire had organised an event to mark Armed Forces Day when none of the audience could leave! Though historically the Sheriffs were responsible for maintaining law and order in their county, these days being a High Sheriff is a non-political, Royal appointment, with a focus on encouraging crime prevention and community cohesion.
As Peta explained after the visit: “Many High Sheriffs place a focus on work with young people; voluntary groups, like SSAFA, and crime reduction. As Sheriffs hold their honorary position for just a year it seemed to the prison officers I work with and myself that the visit would be beneficial for everyone concerned and that’s the way it turned out. Charles Martell was surprised by how many veterans there were at Ashfield and the prison leaders were very enthusiastic about introducing him to their work and enabling the prisoners to hear what he had to say.”
100 riveting years of the RAF fly by in 10 minutes
SSAFA’s team of volunteers in Gloucestershire took time out from their monthly update meeting recently to help celebrate the centenary of the RAF.
The county became an important location for the RAF right from the formation of the Royal Flying Corps, during the First World War. By World War II its importance had grown and in the 1940s Gloucestershire was the site of more than 30 wartime airfields, camps and bases. Many were involved in notable World War II raids.
While today the number still operational is relatively small, a check on larger scale Ordnance Survey maps shows the site of many airstrips, runways and buildings from the past. A visit to this link will take anyone wanting to know more about the RAF in the county to an interesting web site about bases past and present. https://www.rafagloucester.com/rfc-raf-stations-gloucestershire
The picture shows ex RAF members of our group, after we’d all been given an interesting briefing on the Force’s first 100 years by our vice chairman, Wing Commander Hamilton Elliott.
His presentation also covered the important contribution made during WW2 by the Gloster Aircraft Company (formerly the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company). It built more than 1,000 Hurricanes and 3,000 Typhoons, as well the earlier Gladiator, the Meteor, which was the first jet powered fighter to enter active service with the RAF. and then the Javelin, which was in use from the 1950s to 1968.
THE INVISIBLE ENEMY
This month, SSAFA is highlighting one area of Veteran’s realities that do not always get acknowledged; Loneliness and isolation - the invisible enemy faced by many veterans every day.
With over 41% British Armed Forces veterans surveyed saying they have felt lonely or isolated at some point since leaving the military, and over a quarter admitting to having suicidal thoughts after finishing their military service.
Find out more and donate at www.ssafa.org.uk/fight to help SSAFA reach more veterans who have served this Nation; they have sacrificed a great deal and deserve our support.
SSAFA JOINS FORCES WITH AGE UK TO PROVE THERE’S STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
The Gloucestershire branches of SSAFA and Age UK have joined forces in a ground-breaking initiative to try and make the county the best in the country for veterans of the forces and pension-aged civilians to enjoy their retirement.
Following two years of planning and months of presentations to fund-holders, the two charities announced their plans to work together for the good of the growing number of elderly people in the area.
They believe that by working jointly and pooling resources, they will actually end up with a situation where two and two will make five, with each building on the other’s expertise.
Though both charities have specific aims to help make the lives of the elderly more comfortable and less stressful, there is not a lot of overlap in the specific assistance and support they provide. “We live in a very fast-changing world and have recognised that there are new, as well as traditional demands for our resources,” explains SSAFA’s Gloucestershire Chairman, Col Tony Singer, adding; “By collaborating with Age UK we believe we will be able to extend our reach and maximise the resources of both charities.”
Rob Fountain of Age UK added; “We have found that the work done by both of our teams is more complementary than competitive. With our long-term experience of helping and supporting the elderly in the community and SSAFA’s 132 years of assisting members of the forces and their families, we believe we will now have a much stronger team of volunteers, with greatly enhanced experience. Together that will enable potential clients to be given the advice and assistance they need more quickly than ever.
“Our aim now is to quickly build awareness of the enhanced aid we will be making available, with a support team which will help ensure Gloucestershire is one of the best places in the country for the elderly to live.”
Funding for the new work is being provided through the Ministry of Defence, using money being made available by the Chancellor from fines collected from banks which were involved in the Libor interest rate controversy.
WHY NOT COME AND JOIN US?
In our local community there are men and women who served their country well and have now fallen on hard times. SSAFA’s purpose is to be there to lend a helping hand to those who need it most. We are always keen to find new volunteers
Our assistance ranges from visiting isolated veterans in their homes to providing support to those with housing needs; accessing funds for house adaptations for service men or women injured whilst fighting for their country, to sourcing invalid aids needed by veterans who have answered their country’s call for help, but now need someone to respond to their needs.
The work of SSAFA volunteers can be uplifting, rewarding and to our clients, truly life changing.
SSAFA Gloucestershire is one of many branches in need of new volunteers to join our dedicated team. Our aim is to ensure that no call for help goes unanswered. Be a veteran’s hero. Join us as a volunteer today: https://buff.ly/2l7ziql
JOINING FORCES LIVES UP TO ITS NAME IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE
‘Joining Forces’, the collaboration project formed by the Gloucestershire branch of SSAFA, the armed forces charity, and Age UK is living up to its name with regular participation in Veterans Breakfast Clubs and other events in the county.
The clubs are a great way for comrades old and new to get together on a regular basis to share company, swap stories and memories and meet like-minded people in pleasant environments.
Currently there are four meetings in Gloucestershire each month. To make them accessible to as many veterans as possible they are spread throughout the county, from Goodrich to Gloucester, Lydney to Tewksbury. They take place on consecutive Saturday mornings, from 9.30 to 11.30.
In addition, the Joining Forces team of volunteers periodically organise special events, such as a recent visit to The Soldiers of Gloucester Museum, at Gloucester Quays. This included free entry and a mid-morning coffee and biscuits snack.
There were representatives in attendance from SAAFA and the Citizens Advice Bureau as well as Help The Aged, ready to provide assistance and advice to any of the county’s veterans who wanted to take advantage of it.
Keep checking the SSAFA Gloucestershire web site and our frequently-updated Facebook page if you’d like to be involved or hear about future events.
Current Breakfast club meetings are: -
Ist Saturday of the Month
Old Royal British Legion Club, Lydney
2nd Saturday of the Month
Royal Hop Pole Hotel, Tewkesbury
3rd Saturday of the Month
Cross Keys Public House, Goodrich
4th Saturday of the Month
The Toby Carvery, Brockworth, Gloucester
* See Facebook & Twitter for Information on Stroud's first Breakfast Club meeting *