London Poppy Day 2020 Launches Under COVID-19 Restrictions

Due to COVID-19, a number of measures have been introduced, including cashless donations options.

The Royal British Legion’s (RBL) London Poppy Day is underway albeit on a smaller scale due to coronavirus.

The event, usually the largest cash street collection of its kind in Europe, was launched on Thursday with a photo of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, alongside personnel from across the Armed Forces at Waterloo station.

For the fundraising, measures have been put in place to follow social distancing guidelines and local lockdown restrictions.

A variety of cashless donation options are available this year, including QR codes, text to donate and contactless devices to help limit contact.

Volunteers and members of the Armed Forces are at stations across the capital selling the poppies.

In previous years, around 2,000 personnel have flooded the capital’s stations and streets, shaking buckets with a fundraising target of £1 million in a day.

This year, due to the pandemic, only 200 are taking part, appearing at just nine London train stations.

Among the personnel involved are soldiers from 32 Regiment Royal Artillery who were used in the military's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those collecting for the Poppy Appeal have also been issued with personal protective equipment (PPE) and are collecting in stationary locations, the charity said. 

Personnel and volunteers are collecting in static locations this year due to coronavirus.

Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter said:

“I’ve been very impressed by the support the media has given it this year, it started a bit earlier than perhaps it has done in the past.

"I also think our veterans are occupying an increasingly special place in the hearts of the British population, and I’m pretty confident that the connection that we’ve made, particularly with what we’ve done with the coronavirus and our support to the care sector and the NHS in particular, has reminded people that we’re here and we also need help as well."

Ross Kemp, an RBL ambassador, urged those isolating outside of London to show their support nonetheless.

Military members, families and veterans may be "in more need than they have been for many years" in 2020, he told Forces News.

"We’re actually not able to generate the kind of cash that we’d like to, to be able to help them," he said.

"We’re looking at isolation, depression, PTSD, mental health issues, physical health issues and, you know, poverty. 

Mr Kemp asked those remaining outside of the capital to help out online and by placing a poppy in a window.

It comes after the RBL called on the public to show their support for the Poppy Appeal in different ways because of the pandemic.

Launching the appeal last week, the charity warned social distancing requirements and shielding volunteers are among the challenges they are facing, with volunteer numbers possibly dropping by around 30% because of the crisis.

The RBL, the UK's largest Armed Forces charity, has encouraged people to taken on other fundraising efforts, including baking, knitting and a virtual 'Poppy Run'.

The charity is also calling on supporters to distribute poppies to their friends, family, and neighbours themselves by requesting 20 poppies free of charge online to safely distribute to their community in exchange for a donation.

Cover image: General Sir Nick Carter with volunteers from across the UK Armed Forces.