SEWING SOLDIER'S STERLING SUPPORT
Neil Stace and 100 Hearts go on the road
After helping our 100 Hearts project get off the ground in Salisbury in 2016, long-time SSAFA supporter Neil Stace (aka the Sewing Soldier) has been running half-term workshops at Ely Cathedral helping families make sweetheart pincushions in support of our Hearts project.
Pincushions were made by wounded soldiers to send home to their loved ones. Known as 'Sweethearts' these moving momentos, made with love, proved to be excellent therapy for troops recovering from the horrors that they had experienced. Using a modern interpretation of the theme SSAFA Wiltshire created one hundred hearts, one for each year since the Great War, which were on display in an exhibition at Ely Cathedal throughout February. Fittingly, as we approach the centenary of the end of World War 1, we have hearts being made in Australia, Canada, South Africa and America and are planning further events. Keep an eye out by following us on Facebook (see link below).
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.
ANNUAL TRAINING DAY
Boilers, Carpets and Loan Sharks were just three of the topics raised duing our annual update
Tidworth Garrison Theatre was once more the location for our Annual Training Day, where our volunteers received updates and information relevant to our work and internal processes. This year, we were pleased to welcome representatives from several charities and agencies that we work with, the aim being to famliarise our caseworkers with new practices and give them a chance to ask questions of the experts. We also hosted colleagues from neighbouring counties and our Central Office.
Suzanne Wigmore, CEO of Citizens Advice Wiltshire spoke about the overlap in what our two charities do, and how we might better work together. SSAFA is particularly good at dealing with short-term needs while Citizens Advice takes a long-term view, so our services are complementary. Suzanne was introduced by Sam Browne, one of our Salisbury caseworkers who has recently been trained as a Citizens Advice adviser and was able to provide some insights into how our services relate to clients.
Peter Assirati from the Wiltshire Housing Options Team updated the gathering on Homes4Wiltshire policiies, particularly how they affect those leaving the services, noting "our job is to prevent homelessness".
Highlight of the day was a popular feature from previous years when representatives from RBL, RNBT, ABF, RAFBF, Help For Heroes and RA Charitable Fund gave advice and answered questions on the paperwork we have to do in order to almonise funds to provide solutions for our clients' needs. Almonisation is the process of sourcing and providing funding and the relationship between our caseworkers and the charities that provide funding are key to our ability to service those needs. Although we have a great working relationship with those other charities, as with any system, there can be frustrations when claims are rejected or held up. Questioning was forthright, but areas of contention and confusion were discussed and the overall feeling was that this annual interchange is of great use for all concerned.
After lunch, a choice of seminars on internal processes and specialist subjects broght the day to a close. If you would like to know more about the work we do, see elsewhere on this page or get in touch.
WW1 Experience Days A Great Success
With more stands and more visitors than ever, our latest World War One commemoration event was a great success. Last year, we teamed up with Salisbury Cathedral to stage our Hundred Hearts exhibition, this year's event was timed to coincide with the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest battles of World War One.
Friday saw school educational visits and the celebration of Evensong in the Cathedral, while on both days members of the public were able to learn about our work with the Forces Family and delve deeper into the history of those we support.
As well as C Company Rolling History and Bristol Scout Aeroplane who supported us last year, we welcomed the Royal Signals Museum, Breaking Ground Heritage and Support2Ops who provided us with Event Control and logistics. Their combined efforts saw a much more prominent event that attracted visitors from across the county as well as interest from passing tourists. Media coverage increased and we hope to be back next year to commemorate 100 years since the end of The Great War.
SSAFA Wiltshire get out and about in rain and shine
Let's face it, it wasn't the best of summers, but our volunteers cast off any Summertime Blues to get out and about spreading the word about this great charity and the work we do.
Our North Wiltshire Division were at Lacock at War which is always well attended and the Tombola brings a steady stream of visitors to the stand. This year, they welcomed Flog It! star Paul Martin and Miss Lacock At War as well as many veterans and our loyal supporters.
Over at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, we teamed up with SSAFA Blandford Camp in the World War One exhibit. We spent a few days under a corrugated iron roof which did get a bit warm but also added authenticity of the event which was a great success for us. We raised much needed funds, and were able to inform many more people about our work than we manage to reach at smaller events. Teaming up with Blandford Camp worked well, and we hope to work together again some time soon. Thank you Dorset!
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).
Treat your senses to the uplifting sounds of the Swindon Male Voice Choir, in Concert with the world renowned Band of the Household Cavalry.