PUT your best foot forward and get fell in for a Walking Home For Christmas fundraiser for Walking With The Wounded - do a sponsored walk to bring festive cheer to ex-servicemen and women.
The WWTW charity - launched in 2010 with the backing from Prince Harry - helps injured former British Armed Forces servicemen and women in their career transition from the military to civilian life.
It supports those who have fallen on bad times, who are in financial difficulty and facing a lonely, uncertain future, including the homeless.
And its Walking Home For Christmas campaign aims to get more people walking - between December 8 and 17 - to raise £250,000 of vital cash to help change the lives of around 400 men and women.
HOW TO TAKE PART: Sign up at wwtw.org.uk/Christmas. Receive your Santa hat and fundraising pack in the post. Set a date for your walk between December 8 and 17. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01263 86390.
FIND OUT MORE: Supporters' Evenings - with more information and help on how to get involved, meet beneficiaries, charity staff and fellow supporters - are free and are being held at Be At One Bars, at 6 Millenium Square, Leeds, LS2 3AD, on Monday, October 16 and at 176 Devonshire St, Sheffield, on Tuesday, October 17, both dates 6pm to 8.30pm.
For more Supporters' Evenings information and events - CLICK HERE.
The campaign is supported by Wolsey who, during World War I supplied over 18 million woollen jerseys, scarves and pieces of underwear to the British Armed Forces.
Sheffield ex-serviceman Richard, who served four years as a Trooper in the 13/18th Royal Hussars, has been helped by WWTW after spent nine months travelling on foot and sleeping rough, having gone through what he admits was a ‘dark spell’.
At one point, he was living in a ‘basher’ - a military shelter - in the woods for 15 months.
Now he says: “I am looking forward to spending Christmas with my godson and his family. I’ll be able to buy them presents, something I never thought possible.
"This time last year I was living in the woods. Thanks to WWTW, this Christmas I will be in a job and have a roof over my head”, says
Last year nine year old Tom walked to school with his dad, while Wendy, aged 62, walked every day in December dressed as Father Christmas,
Adam, aged 36, ran from Bath to Belfast to join his family for Christmas Day. Their stories are typical of those involved with and helped by the charity.
WWTW is estimating it will treble the number of ex-servicemen and women it supports in 2018, following a 97 per cent increase last year to more than 1,000.
"Do a walk this December to serve those who have served us," says Andy Sloan, Events Manager at WWTW.
He said: “Too many of our ex-military have little to look forward to this Christmas. They’ve walked in far more dangerous environments for us, so it is the least we can all do to organise a walk for them.
“We want people to throw on a Santa hat, call up old friends and raise some funds so that we can support these men and women back into work, back into independence and into a place where they can look forward to and enjoy Christmas with their families.”
Those who sign up to the Walking Home For Christmas appeal will be supporting the wounded as well as reducing their own risk of developing depression and anxiety, adds the charity, says the charity.
Rod Eldridge, Clinical Lead at WWTW, said: “Walking, as a form of physical activity, is well known to be associated with improving mental health, particularly lowering rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups.”
"It’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have up to a 30% lower risk of depression and up to a 30% lower risk of dementia.
"Some scientists think that it can improve mental wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge. Thus contributing another reason why WWTW are urging the great British public to get out and about this December, get active and in turn serve those who have served us".
The charity adds: "With Christmas fast approaching, for many a time of financial pressure and loneliness, more ex-service personnel than ever require support.
"Be part of a fun campaign this festive season to ensure our wounded ex-servicemen and women don’t spend another Christmas apart from their loved ones
"Walking Home For Christmas will help those who have little to look forward to this upcoming festive season.
"Without our support they could be on the streets, without a job, isolated from their family, in debt or in prison.
"Evidence shows that there are still thousands of ex-service personnel like Richard who are struggling or haven’t yet sought the support they require.
"Walking With The Wounded’s mission is to support all ex-servicemen and women with physical, mental or social injury to gain the skills and qualifications necessary to develop new careers outside the military, re-integrate into society and provide long term security for themselves and their families.
For more information visit wwtw.org.uk/Christmas.