A BRUSH WITH THE LAW
Veteran In Erlestoke Presents SSAFA With Painting
Former Military Policeman Stefan Gannon has spent the last eight months working on a massive painting of military scenes [see Gallery] which was presented at HMP Erlestoke recently and accepted on behalf of SSAFA Wiltshire by Charles Monk, our Training Officer. Stefan, who has been in prison for 21 years, and hopes to be released later this year, told our Prison In-Reach Volunteer Barry Scott that the painting is to say thank you to SSAFA for supporting him through his time at Erlestoke.
SSAFA supports all ex-veterans and their families, whatever their circumstances, and we are proud of the work that Barry and others do to provide support during incarceration and guidance in transitioning back to civilian life. Speaking to the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, Stefan explained that he went into the Army straight from school in 1978 and became a military policeman. After leaving in 1982, and while working as a commercial artist and doing some security work, he got in with the wrong crowd and was eventually convicted of armed robberies.
After working hard to connect with the ex-veteran population in Erlestoke, Barry Scott is now busier than ever, and is supporting a number of other ex-Forces prisoners, some of whom can be seen wearing SSAFA T-shirts in the photograph in the gallery. "Some ex-servicemen within the prison have said they do not want to know SSAFA and I respect that, but on the day of presentation I was given a new guy's details, and I'm pleased that things have improved after last year's troubles at the prison, and I am now able to reach those who do want our help much more easily".
Erlestoke has a number of former service personnel on the staff and has set up a Veterans In Custody group to help support inmates with a military background which is where Barry makes contact. You can find out more about SSAFA's support for offenders and ex-offenders at bit.ly/2uaQnV7.
WARTIME MEMORIES WEEKEND A GREAT SUCCESS
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 commemorate specific battles, so the move to June proved popular with exhibitors, the local schools which attended on Friday and the many visitors on Saturday and Sunday. Rather than a battle, 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 housed an art trail, our collection of Wire Soldiers, and other exhibits. The History Tent housed historical societies, local and military museums including Trowbridge Museum, The Horses Trust and Wiltshire Council's Wall of Commemorative Crosses.
Uniformed re-enactors included C Company Rolling History with their excellent WW1 Trench system, chaplains from The Museum of Army Chaplaincy and The Garrison Artillery Volunteers from Larkhill with their WW1 encampment.
The Bristol Scout WW1 Aeroplane has been with us since the beginning and always attracts a crowd. The Royal Corps of Signals Museum WW1 Communications exhibit was very popular with groups of cadets practising their semaphore skills! There were displays of WW1 Medicine by 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 aviation ephemera from the CBRN centre at Winterbourne Gunner.
On Sunday, the Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire took the salute at a march past of RBL standards, bands and cadet units. The weekend concluded with a commemorative Choral Evensong where our Branch President The Venerable Stephen Robbins preached.
MEET THE TEAM - THE DIVISIONAL SECRETARY
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.
COME AND JOIN US!
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).
HELPING US TO HELP THEM
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.
WELCOME TO OUR NEW BRANCH SECRETARY
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".
Volunteering in Wiltshire and Swindon
Volunteers are at the heart of our work with the Armed Forces family.
Meet inspiring people, gain some confidence and learn new skills as part of our volunteer network in Wiltshire and Swindon. Most of our volunteers support ex-service personnel and their dependants living in their community, though we always need help manning our stands at events, baking cakes, making things, administration and much more.
Whatever your skills or experience, you WILL be able to help, so to discuss how, please get in touch via the contact details top of this page.