Forces Charities

Lives At Risk If Veteran Support Centre Forced To Close, Charity Warns

Despite increasing support during the coronavirus crisis, workers are worried the centre may have to close.

A charity has warned people could die if a veteran support centre is forced to close due to pressures caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The Tri-Services and Veterans Support Centre in Staffordshire set up its foodbank during the pandemic and has seen demand jump from one or two parcels a week to more than 25.

However, it faces an uncertain future after being forced to cancel all fundraising events.

Kathy Munslow, a caseworker for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), the charity partnering with the centre, said the loss of the services would be devastating.

"If this centre closed and the foodbank closed, nobody, nobody would fully understand the impact it would make on the veterans, on the veterans' families,” she said.

"I can guarantee you - and sounds very dramatic this - we would have some deaths on our hands."

The parcels delivered to veterans provide the essentials for a week.

Geoff Harriman, chairman of the centre, which typically operates on between £7,000-£8,000 a year, said he can already see the strain the pandemic is putting on the organisation.

He said: "All our fundraising efforts have ceased and we’ve had to cancel a lot of events that would have been good fundraisers for us, but we’ve still got to pay for the upkeep because we’ve found we’re in the centre now more, sorting out the foodbank then we were previously."

For many of those receiving help, the food deliveries have been their only contact with other people.

Brett Turner, an RAF Bomber Command World War Two veteran, spoke about his daily struggles whilst isolated by the pandemic.

"I never thought it was so lonely in this world until this last lockout," he said.

"Even when we were flying bombers, there was always someone there to chat to. But, this no. This to me is worse than the wartime."