Forces Charities

Poppy Appeal Launch: Public Urged To Support In New Ways

The Royal British Legion's annual fundraising campaign is being adapted to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year's Poppy Appeal has launched with members of the British public being encouraged to show their support in different ways because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) has had to adapt and create new ways for people to get involved in this year's appeal amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The charity has asked the public to "back the appeal like never before".

Social distancing requirements and shielding volunteers are among the challenges faced by the RBL.

The charity said it has around 40,000 volunteers support the appeal annually, with numbers possibly dropping by approximately 30% this year.

It is using different cashless donation options to help protect poppy sellers and those donating, with QR codes and contactless devices some of the technology being embraced.

People are also being encouraged to take on other fundraising efforts, including baking, knitting and a virtual 'Poppy Run'. 

More than 15 million paper poppies are being distributed to supermarkets across the country.

The RBL's director of fundraising, Claire Rowcliffe, said: "While the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly makes running the appeal more difficult, the additional hardships it has brought about means our work is now more vital than ever.

"The pandemic has had a devastating impact on people’s livelihoods and way of life, leaving some in the Armed Forces community in dire need of urgent help and support."

Shielding WW2 veteran Bill Taylor takes part in Poppy Appeal 2020 221020 CREDIT Royal British Legion.jpg
The charity launched this year's appeal with pictures of the military community, including WWII veteran Bill Taylor who has been shielding during the pandemic (Picture: Royal British Legion).

She added: "Every poppy makes a difference to the lives of our Armed Forces community.

"Whilst you may have to do something different to support the Poppy Appeal this year, every poppy counts so we’re asking people to please support us in any way you can."

The RBL is also calling on supporters to distribute poppies to their friends, family, and neighbours.

Members of the public can request 20 poppies free of charge online to safely distribute to their community in exchange for a donation.

A printable poppy is also available to download – either in colour or to be coloured in – that people can fix to the windows.

People are also able to donate to the charity's website and leave a message of remembrance that will be included in the Poppy Appeal's virtual field of remembrance.

The RBL is the country’s largest Armed Forces charity and provides support to former and serving personnel.

The appeal was launched with a series of photographic portraits of members of the military community and Poppy Appeal collectors, designed to show the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The public has been asked to stay away from the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday because of the coronavirus crisis.

People are instead being urged to mark the occasion on Sunday 8 November at home.

Cover image: Library image of the Poppy Appeal (Picture: MOD).