We’re taking a look at how your donations to the BFBS Big Salute have made a big difference to the lives of serving personnel and veterans.
This year, the Big Salute has supported twelve armed forces charities by funding grant-based projects.
Veterans Aid has been awarded a £10,000 grant to help fund two of the additional 11 rooms at the charity’s New Belvedere House hostel. The charity helps ex-servicemen and women in crisis. Specifically, it deals with all the factors that contribute to a crisis, significantly those leading to homelessness.
Forces Radio BFBS broadcaster Warren Moore spoke to Peter Fanning, former 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldier and Royal Navy veteran Jamie Marshall about their experience of Veterans Aid.
Peter explained that he first came into contact with Veterans Aid ten years ago and was helped by the charity for six months. However, in March 2018 he found himself in hospital after a bout of short-term memory loss and needed help from Veterans Aid again. A phone call from a familiar voice changed everything.
"He said Peter, I know who you are, get yourself down there [New Belvedere House] now.
"They booked transport for me to go ... and I was in there within 20 minutes of saying."
Jamie found himself living on the streets in London after divorcing his wife. It was only because someone overheard that Jamie was ex-military that he was put in touch with Veterans Aid.
"That day I was on a train off to East London and homed.
"I'd spent the night on the street and six, seven hours later I had my own room."
The Big Salute grant will help to provide an enduring legacy for veterans who would otherwise be homeless by funding two rooms at New Belvedere House.
Residents in these ‘Big Salute’ rooms will have access to all that this flagship facility has to offer, including training kitchens, computer suites, a fitness suite, and unparalleled support.
The rooms will help current and future occupants. Jamie said:
"You find with other homeless charities you've got to have a fixed abode to get any help.
How do you pick yourself up from that situation? Veterans Aid."
Forces Radio BFBS broadcaster Tim Humphries attended the formal opening of New Belvedere House and spoke to London Mayor Sadiq Khan who is humbled by the support being offered.
"I'm inspired, I'm humbled and I feel incredibly proud of the support being given to veterans who, let's be frank, have fallen on tough times.
"Our job as a society is to help them and to offer support."
Veterans Aid has delivered support to former servicemen and women in crisis since 1932 - significantly those leading to homelessness.
To donate to ourSmall Change BIG Impact BFBS Big Salute Christmas campaign go to forces.net/bigsalute.