As The Royal British Legion enters its 99th year the newly elected chair, Una Cleminson, has recently chaired a strategic review that, in her words “will ensure the charity continues to have the greatest impact, making the most of our resources, and evolving in line with changes in the Armed Forces community.”

The results of that review is the development of a new direction that will address the changes in the Armed Forces community, as the type of support needed is growing increasingly complex with people requiring help across multiple issues.

Since 2016 the charity has seen a 20% increase in people needing basic support with housing, financial issues, mental health and well-being and mobility. In this time, the average expenditure per household through the Legion’s Immediate Needs Grants has risen 45% from £900 to £1330.

Here in Spain one of the new initiatives currently being trialled relates especially to that mental health, wellbeing and mobility issue, with the establishment on the Orihuela Costa of a Veterans Club by welfare worker Sandie Coates.

So far three monthly gatherings have taken place in Punta Prima aimed at highlighting the work of the Royal British Legion in Spain, as well as reducing social isolation and loneliness that Veterans and their families often experience.

The events were funded from monies raised in Spain through the Poppy Appeal and have included gentle exercise from fitness Professional Crecia Wilding, aimed especially at those people who live on their own, along with games and hobbies, demonstrations on crafts and an exhibition of Military Memorabilia by David Cottam from his vast collection built up over many years. The events also had the involvement of David Minto from Help at Home, who was available to answer many queries and questions, the partnership also showing a good example of cross Voluntary Agency working on the Orihuela Costa.

The three events, which also included refreshments, brought together almost a hundred people, dozens of them with no prior connection to The Royal British Legion, and many of whom might otherwise have spent the day sitting in isolation at home.

And the primary achievement of the three sessions in the eyes of those who attended, they brought together many veterans from the local community who were previously feeling isolated or alone and who now all know that there are always people out there who really care about their wellbeing.


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