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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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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.
VOLUNTEERS ON PARADE FOR GLOUCESTERSHIRE’S LORD LIEUTENANT
Lord Lieutenant Opens the new SSAFA Gloucestershire Office
The Gloucestershire Branch of SSAFA has been on the move to new offices recently and has now “pitched camp” at the Army Reserve Centre on the city’s Eastern Avenue. Conveniently, along with our records and equipment, we were able to take our telephone number as well. This means that for most of our clients there will be no noticeable change in our activities, service, and the help we give to serving and former members of the forces, and their families.
We were delighted to mark the move with a visit from Dame Janet Trotter DBE, HM’s Lord-Lieutenant for Gloucestershire. A strong supporter of forces’ charities in the County, Dame Janet came to meet some of our volunteers, and to hear for herself developments that SSAFA Gloucestershire have been leading in the last year, including the type of cases that we have successfully handled.
As well as providing a convenient base for our volunteers, who live throughout the County, our new home also provides space for meetings, storage of equipment and puts us closely alongside some members of the forces who are serving, reservists, and also cadets keen to developing a future in the army. This all helps to make us more front-of-mind with potential clients who might not require assistance now, but may need to call upon our help at some stage in the future.
CONGRATULATIONS AND AN AWARD FOR ONE IN A MILLION
It’s probably fair to say that while 99% of people will do their very best, legally or illegally, to stay out of prison, our volunteer Peta Hoyle, must therefore be a woman in a million, for she spends a lot of her time aiming to be behind bars!
Since Joining SSAFA in Gloucestershire in 2012 she has been our Prison In-Reach volunteer, spending a large amount of her time seeking out ex-servicemen and women who have been detained by the law. Her aim is to provide help, advice or assistance to former members of the forces who are now in serious need of a helping hand, or a shoulder to lean on.
It’s a task that needs a very special attitude and one that very few people would care to emulate, but Peta’s skill and manner is such that when she arrives at the prison gates she is welcomed both by the officers running the units and those who are being kept behind bars.
Her input was recently recognised by the rest of our team when she was presented with a 5-year award by our president Sir Francis Richards.
Dick Blakemore, the Branch Secretary said – 'Peta is doing a job that most of us would rather not do, by going into prison to help our clients. She principally helps those prisoners who are about to be released so that their transition back into normal life is achieved without too much stress. We are delighted to have her with us and long may she continue!'
CHELTENHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL SUPPORTS THE ARMED FORCES COVENANT
Earlier this year Cheltenham Borough Council built a new housing development in Swindon Road Cheltenham, exclusively for Veterans.
As a contribution to the Armed Forces Covenant, all accommodation has been allocated solely for Ex-Service Veterans and their dependants. The development, which comprises 12 flats and 3 houses, was called Jupiter House. SSAFA has been associated with the project throughout, although it is entirely an initiative of Cheltenham Borough Council. We were invited to attend the formal opening ceremony in March, by which time all the units had been allocated. The ceremony was attended by Hamilton Elliott, Branch Vice-Chairman and Bill White, East Divisional Secretary covering the Cheltenham area. The Branch determined to mark the event and it was decided to install a bench in the garden area of Jupiter House with a suitable inscription. It was not possible to provide and install the bench in time for the opening, but now thanks to Cheltenham Borough Housing Maintenance Team is has been installed and we hope that the residents will enjoy the facility for a long time to come, and at the same time be aware of the Gloucestershire Branch of SSAFA.
ALL HANDS ON DECK TO FUND A NEW WHEELCHAIR FOR NEIL
SSAFA raise additional funds for a new wheelchair for Neil
There’s great satisfaction for SSAFA volunteers knowing that they are helping the clients who approach us for assistance, but even more when we are also aiding them to help themselves.
That’s exactly the situation that has developed for volunteer Shelagh Woodhouse and her client Neil Francis, from Stroud.
A former member of the Royal Navy, Neil is tetraplegic following an accident in the middle east. He has been wheelchair bound now for several years and approached SSAFA’s Gloucestershire branch having reached a stage when his injuries require a sophisticated motorised wheelchair costing between £15,000 and £18,000. It is a specialised mobility aid that isn’t available through the national health service, though they had offered to make a contribution towards it.
Through his own endeavours, and with help from friends, Neil had already raised £7,000 towards the cost of the new chair, and with Shelagh’s endeavours, it now looks as if SSAFA has managed to collect enough funds to cover the rest of the cost.
The story of Neil’s drive to help himself has generated coverage in his local papers, attracted the interest of BBC Radio 4 -- which has been working on a documentary about his case for a series called ‘The Untold’ -- and most recently, drew scores of people in Stroud to join in a day of fundraising for Neil. They participated in an eight mile charity walk around the town, followed by a charity auction and then an evening barbecue held at a local pub.
“Neil is an inspiring client, who has generated a positive reaction from everyone who has been involved in his story,” says Shelagh. “Though severely disabled, he still exemplifies the positive “can do’ attitude of our forces and showed a drive that has encouraged friends, former colleagues and our charity partners to join in the campaign to help him start a new chapter in his life.
“After his ‘Stroud Walks for Neil’ day it now looks very much as if everyone involved in supporting him will soon be able to welcome the arrival of his new chair. What’s more, when he has it, he says he wants to take part in more charity projects, to help SSAFA’s charity work for others in Gloucestershire.”
SSAFA IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE REMEMBERS ITS WAR HEROES
Gloucestershire’s branch of SSAFA took part in the country’s Remembrance Day commemorations by laying a wreath at the city’s war memorial on November 12.
Vice Chairman Hamilton Elliott, Branch Secretary Dick Blakemore, and Divisional Secretary Roger Wilson participated in the City’s memorial procession and salute before adding our wreath, on behalf of all of the county’s volunteers, in remembrance of the dead and injured from both world wars and recent armed conflicts.
SSAFA was also represented at the national Remembrance Day parade in London, where a wreath from our charity was laid at The Cenotaph in Whitehall. In addition, wreaths organised by SSAFA have been made available for commemorations at local war memorials throughout the county.