We were sorry to hear recently that His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh died at the age of 99. He served operationally in the armed forces and has many links with all the services. Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family.
At the end of March the trustees of the Veterans' Foundation awarded over £514K in grants to 26 organisations but unfortunately, they had to turn down another £0.5M of bids from another 12 charities or charitable organisations. The number and size of bids is certainly an indication of the scale of funds that organisations require to support the armed forces community who are in need. Usually we encourage those grant bidders that were not successful this time to talk to our staff and find out if they should resubmit their bids in the future.
Again the grants covered a wide range of needs. Homelessness continues to be an issue but during the pandemic great strides have been taken across the UK to reduce living on the streets by offering alternative accommodation, including BnB and hotel accommodation; we wonder if there are lessons that will be learnt from that, which will lead to a reduction in the number of street homeless.
Once again, we had bids from a variety of organisations that are helping veterans with health and in particular, mental health. Walking with the Wounded received a grant from the Veterans’ Foundation to be used to fund costs for their project Head Start, WWTW’s Mental Health Programme. Head Start reached 433 vulnerable veterans and their families in 2020, however, the pressures caused by the pandemic, including increased social isolation due to social distancing measures, rising unemployment and the closure during lockdown of some veteran specific mental health provision led to a 57% increase in referrals to Head Start during 2020.
There is a large number of small ‘drop-in centres’ across the UK and an organisation called the Association of Ex-Service Drop in Centres (ASDIC) has been established to bring greater coherence to, and better effect from, the current collection of drop-in centres. The VF grant will be used to fund a seven-month development project to consolidate and build on the huge progress that the ASDIC has made since becoming an independent charity in 2020.
We are delighted to see bids for grants to cover a variety of activities and training for employment; this surely is a positive sign that the restrictions caused by the pandemic are being lifted and we look forward to hearing of the positive outcomes from these now-funded activities. Jonathan Thomson plans to cycle a long way over challenging terrain in order to raise funds for PTSD Resolution; he might welcome your support on top of our grant. We are also delighted to provide grants to two horticultural charities - HighGround and Veterans Growth - that provide employment training and horticultural therapy.
Finally, you will all be familiar with the Gurkhas who have been part of the British Army for over 200 years. We provided a small grant to the Gurkha Centre that is doing excellent work in support of the large Gurkha community in NW London.
Thank you all for your continuing support. By the end of June, we hope to have given away about £3.2M during the preceding 12 months to members of the armed forces community who are in need. We couldn’t do this without you making donations to the Veterans’ Foundation and by subscribing to the wonderful Veterans’ Lottery.