How Sheffield can support its local Armed Forces community
As Remembrance Day nears, people in Sheffield are being encouraged to support their local Armed Forces community ‘so no-one struggles on their own’.
Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day - which this year falls on Monday, November 11 - commemorates the sacrifices made by servicemen and women.
And although the Royal British Legion is probably best known for its annual poppy appeal, its work takes place all year round.
Debbie Harding, area manager for the charity in Yorkshire, said: “We exist to help the Armed Forces community with anything they might need. The one thing that we want is for people to know that we’re there. To believe in what we do and to encourage support. We want to reach as many people as possible, so no one struggles on their own.”
The Royal British Legion claims to be the UK's leading Armed Forces charity and has branches all over the country, as well as overseas.
Founded in 1921, membership is open to everyone - men and women, young and old, serving members of the forces and ex-service members.
There are also members who have not served but are keen to help the Royal British Legion continue with its remembrance, fundraising and welfare.
As well as keeping alive the memories of those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, the charity also aims to give the ex-military community a voice.
Debbie, aged 38, has worked at the Royal British Legion for five years and has family and friends in the forces.
The organisation has five branches in Sheffield which provide financial or emotional support.
The Frecheville branch, in the south east of the city, has recently launched a new project which includes a ‘home and hospital visitor scheme’, in which volunteers visit people confined to their homes or wards as a result of their time in the military.
Debbie said: “It is local people helping local people.
“Volunteers can arrange to visit in the short term or maybe longer term. It’s a chance to see a friendly face and have a chat with someone. Lots of members have served in the Armed Forces so they understand the jargon and terminology to build that rapport.”
Mental health is an important aspect of the organisation’s work too. In Sheffield, branches have been partnering with Mind, the mental health cause.
Together, they set up a project called Keeping Families In Mind.
Trained volunteers listen to people’s concerns during monthly drop-in sessions, which have so far proved successful. Those who have taken up the offer of support include an 82-year-old former RAF serviceman.
Anyone who is able to spare some time is encouraged to apply.
Debbie said: “If we didn’t have our volunteers, we wouldn’t have the reach that we have.”
Visit www.britishlegion.org.uk for more information.