soldier and child from world war 1 and different soldier and child today


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Supporting the Armed Forces family in Wiltshire & Swindon

We help around 1,000 veterans and their families in the local community each year, and we rely on public donations to continue our work. Our commitment is to provide support with experienced, non-judgemental and friendly advice, as well as a variety of practical services which cover a range of social, family and financial issues.

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    Our annual event at Salisbury Cathedral this year was bigger and better than ever

    Our two previous World War One events were held in November to coincide with the commemoration of specific battles, this year's move to the summer proved popular with both exhibitors and visitors attracting good crowds on Saturday and Sunday and playing host to a number of local schools on the Friday. This year's event focussed on SSAFA's role in the Great War when we were the only major military charity operating that is still going strong today.

    1,561 Shrouds of the Somme – one for each day of the First World War – were laid out within the Cathedral Cloisters by soldiers from 5 Rifles in Bulford. The cloisters provided visitors with a respite from the sometimes hot weather and also housed an art trail, the Commonwealth Graves Commission, our own collection of Wire Soldiers as well as other exhibits.

    Re-enactors from C Company Rolling History again showed their excellent WW1 Trench system and were joined this year by others in the uniforms of the time, notably chaplains from The Museum of Army Chaplaincy. The Garrison Artillery Volunteers (Living History Group) from Larkhill showed a WW1 encampment with an original 18 Pdr cannon and support crew.

    The Bristol Scout WW1 Aeroplane has been with us since the beginning and always attracts the crowds being the last flying example of its kind in the world. The WW1 Communications exhibit by the Royal Corps of Signals Museum included flags, Morse Code Training, field telephones, wireless (Clansman Radio) and code-breaking and was very popular with groups of cadets practising their semaphore skills. There were displays of WW1 Medicine of the Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, Nursing and Dental Corps, WW1 aviation artefacts and interactive displays from the Museum Of Army Flying and displays of WW1 gas warfare artefacts and WW1 aviation ephemera from the CBRN centre at Winterbourne Gunner.

    The History Tent saw many other exhibits from local and military museums and historical societies. Historical exhibitors included Trowbridge Museum, The Horse Trust's 'The Horse in WW1', a Gallipoli Banner created by Ghislaine Peart, a display of the reinstatement of two First World War regimental badges cut into the hillside and investigations of the former WW1 camps in the area from Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust and the restoration of a WW1 badge of an outline map of Australia, carved by Australian soldiers staying at a local training camp from The Australia Badge Trust. Wiltshire Council's Wall of Commemorative Crosses – one for every Wiltshire soldier killed during WW1 (Salisbury section) gave visitors pause for thought.

    On Sunday, the Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton, took the salute at a march past which included RBL standards, bands and cadet units and the weekend concluded with a commemorative Choral Evensong in the cathedral with Branch President The Venerable Stephen Robbins preaching.


    For Hilary Pearce SSAFA is all about the family

    Like many of our volunteers, Hilary Pearce has a family connection to SSAFA. Her Mum worked for SSAFA in Lancashire for some 30 years, so SSAFA is in the family DNA and is's natural that Hilary's daughters Blythe, 8, and Cecily, 7, are getting involved too. Hilary remembers waiting in the car while her Mum beavered away helping someone in need.

    As Divisional Secretary, Hilary is the first point of contact for queries about SSAFA for the Salisbury area. Some of the queries need signposting on to other statutory services or possibly other charities. If we are able to help, Hilary matches the case to one of her caseworkers who will work their magic to help the client and source funding. Hilary is a fairly recent recruit to SSAFA Wiltshire and emphasises the importance of our volunteer team, saying "I am very ably supported by my Assistant Div Sec, Treasurer and all the caseworkers, without whom the whole system would fall apart!"

    Hilary particularly likes the way SSAFA works as the vital link between benevolent funds and the veterans and their families who need help. "After more than 130 years, we are quick and very efficient which is paramount to someone in need of help" noted Hilary, adding "our caseworkers carry an enormous amount of local knowledge with them and I think this is very important in helping clients."

    As a SSAFA volunteer, what makes Hilary tick is seeing individuals back on their feet after a very difficult period in their life: "you definitely get a warm glow inside knowing you have made a difference". She advises anyone who is computer literate and has a few hours or more to spend to consider volunteering because "you CAN make a real difference by volunteering for SSAFA".

    If Hilary's story has made you think about volunteering please get in touch. Contact details are at the top of this page.


    Are You Looking To Help Others?

    We need people who will give some of their time to do whatever is necessary to help us to help the Forces Family in Wiltshire & Swindon. Baking cakes, selling books, helping on stands at events, creating and managing online content, talking to organisations and schools about our work - you name it, we need somebody to help do it!

    As thousands more servicemen and women and their families move back to Salisbury Plain from Germany, WE ARE DESPERATELY SHORT OF VOLUNTEERS to ensure our vital work continues. Click on the "Recruiting Poster" in the files section at the bottom of this page for more, or get in touch (see top of page).


    Wg Cdr Ian Ferries joins SSAFA Wiltshire

    Having served in the the RAF for over 30 years, SSAFA was an obvious choice for Ian Ferries when he decided to volunteer for a family focussed service charity. Our new Branch Secretary was particularly impressed by the way SSAFA gives families support in all of areas of need, citing as an example "as domestic violence hostels become fewer, the Stepping Stones Houses are a wonderful facility".

    Being retired, Ian had some capacity for voluntary work and since leaving the RAF had volunteered for Citizens Advice for seven years where he became a volunteer supervisor. We work closely with Citizens Advice offices across the county and Ian hopes his experience will enhance what is already a solid working relationship. Ian joined the local council and served as the mayor of Royal Wootton Bassett and now wants to use that experience to help provide a service to current and former servicemen and women and their families, .

    As Branch Secretary, Ian will be kept busy arranging branch meetings, implementing branch policy and decisions as well as coordinating all volunteers and caseworkers within the branch and promoting SSAFA across the county. Recent legislation and changes to our ways of working means that implementing and maintaining data management policies and procedures will be key elements in his work this year.

    In welcoming Ian to the branch at our AGM, Chairman Stephen Oxlade paid tribute to outgoing Secretary Bill Common who will now become more involved with Publicity and Awareness, adding "Ian's experience in the military, local government and charity sector will be invaluable to us in a time of rapid and complex change and I am delighted to have him on board".


    SSAFA Wiltshire rises to the challenge

    Change was the common theme adopted by several speakers at the SSAFA Wiltshire AGM in Tidworth on 20th April. The military charity landscape continues to be in flux, but with initiatives such as the Veterans' Gateway, there is also increasing co-operation among charities in the sector with SSAFA at the forefront. Other changes thrust upon us by legislation have seen our internal processes and tools adapting to encompass the requirements of Data Protection, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and Safeguarding. Our volunteers have risen to the challenge and we are well on our way to complying with all the new legislative and administrative requirements while also coming to grips with new ways of working.

    The statistics presented showed that despite another year of upheaval, our caseworkers continue to make a difference to people's lives with increasingly complex cases adding to the administrative burden. Happily, we have close ties with other charities and those long associations have helped us weather the storm of change.

    We welcomed John Sandall from Central Office who highlighted that the needs of beneficiaries are changing. This was echoed by other speakers and it was noted that cases are becoming ever more complex and are rarely simple but span a range of needs. John outlined SSAFA's Volunteer Strategy emphasising that SSAFA's success across its long history is largely down to the devotion and dedication of its volunteer network.

    We were pleased to welcome Babs Harris, CEO of Alzheimer Support, the charity that offers dementia support and care across the county. She gave us an insight into how her charity works and how we might better work together in the future given that a large proportion of those they help are ex-military.

    As always, this was an informative meeting and volunteers took the chance to ask some pertinent questions of branch officers and guests ensuring the day was well spent.


    Husband and wife team raise £6500 for SSAFA in raffle

    Branch Secretary Bill Common was delighted to present Lieutenant Colonel Tim Symonds and his team with the Silver Lady WW1 statue in recognition of their efforts to raise funds for us. Thanks to the local and national businesses that supported them with prizes - Goring Hotel, Tesco, Waitrose, Co-Op, Tipple Inn, Harrow Pub, Coral Cove, Chalk Valley History Festival, Finkley and Charlie’s Farm, Longleat and many more - a fantastic £6500 was raised in a raffle organised by Tim and wife Major Georgina.

    Colonel Tim is a great SSAFA supporter and is reportedly already planning his next fund raising venture.


Armed Forces Day - Where To See Us 1 July 2018

Where To See Us This Year

Armed Forces Day celebrations are always a big occasion for us, and this year will be no exception. On Saturday 23rd June we'll be at Faringdon Road in Swindon. Saturday 30th June will see us at St Stephen's Place in Trowbridge, and on Sunday 1st July we'll again be in Trowbridge and also in Salisbury at the Market Place and Guildhall Square. Do come up and say "hallo".