What good news it is that we are gradually emerging out of lockdown. It seems that life is returning to normal and most charities are now re-engaging veterans by carrying out pre-pandemic activities, but no doubt we all remain alert to the dangers that are still around us.
I know many veterans in need have found the past year or more really taxing as they have not had the same level of support as before; that said, most of them have managed really well in testing circumstances and may flourish post-lockdown.
While most of us found the pandemic taxing, the small team of people associated with the Veterans’ Foundation also learned lessons that will probably change working practices forever. For instance, we know we can function extremely well internally even with everyone operating from home, month after month, by using good information technology systems. The same technology enables us to keep very close to those charitable organisations that bid for grants and it allows us to react very quickly to urgent bids for grants.
During lockdown we provided money that allowed veterans to stay in touch with others with phones and tablets, that enabled modifications to vehicles to take into account distancing and PPE and that paid for staff to deliver essential items to veterans who couldn’t get out and about.
I am delighted to say that the Veterans’ Lottery now has over 64,000 subscribers and it continues to grow, and, remarkably, it grew throughout the pandemic. It has been lovely to get feedback from the lottery winners but it has also been lovely to hear how much they welcome the Veterans’ Foundation’s ability to help other charitable organisations as a result of their subscriptions and donations. As many of you know, since inception, the Veterans’ Foundation has raised most if its money through the Veterans’ Lottery, however, we welcome donations as well and intend to increase this through various initiatives we are planning.
Finally, we have built up tremendous relationships with the organisations to which we provide grants and I would like to highlight three organisations that received a grant in March 2021 from the Veterans’ Foundation.
The first is the Association of ex-Service Drop-In Centres (ASDIC) that will make more effective and bring greater recognition to the needs and effects of the many veterans’ drop-in centres across the UK; the second is Walking With The Wounded that will use the Veterans’ Foundation grant to part-fund costs of the Head Start mental health programme; and the third, the Gurkha Centre, a young charity in NW London that is responding to the needs of the concentration of Gurkha veterans in that area of London.
Thank you, followers of the Veterans' Foundation and its Veterans' Lottery, for your support as YOU enable these grants that we award and which benefit veterans in need. Since July 2016 we have provided £6.1M to 247 unique charitable organisations in 406 grants.