As you may have seen, the Herefordshire FA has entered into a wide-ranging partnership with SSAFA Herefordshire, with their HQ becoming known as the SSAFA County Ground.
But what is SSAFA and what do they do? We sat down with Air Commodore Tim Howson DL, SSAFA Herefordshire Chairman and Kevin Ebsworth, SSAFA Herefordshire Treasurer, to find out more.
Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in SSAFA Herefordshire?
Tim – After serving in the RAF for 30 years, I wanted to get involved in a Veterans Charity, following my retirement. I saw a position advertised at SSAFA Herefordshire so applied. I was aware of SSAFA from my time in the military, with the organisation providing medical support to families when I was based in Germany. I became Branch Secretary in 2011 and Chairman in 2016.
Kevin – I spent 23 years in the Royal Navy, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer in Logistics. I then spent 10 years in financial services and relocated to Malvern. While involved with running a Royal British Legion Social Club I was approached about joining SSAFA Herefordshire as a volunteer case worker, which I did in 2009, taking over as Treasurer in 2010.
For those who don’t know, what exactly is it that SSAFA does?
Both – SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity, provides lifelong support to regulars, reserves and veterans of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the British Army and the Royal Air Force and their families. We offer practical, emotional and financial support for serving personnel, veterans as well as their families. Our clients range from 20 to 100 years old and in the last three years we have sourced more than £150,000 to support those in need within the County and have helped over 350 local service men and women, veterans and their families.
How can people access this service and what can they expect?
Both - We are fortunate in that we have a telephone service available 24/7. Alternatively, people can contact email@example.com or visit ssafa.org.uk/herefordshire. We are the oldest military charity and therefore have a broad range of skills and experience. Following contact, we have 15 volunteer case workers who reach out to individuals in need of assistance and assess what this may be. These volunteers then either provide support directly across a range of areas, or help to source support from a range of other local organisations. We are unique in that, whilst we are a national charity, we work together locally with all other charities and agencies, especially those within the Herefordshire Armed Forces Covenant Partnership, to ensure individuals receive whatever they need from whoever is best to provide support. The type of support we give ranges across the board, from signposting individuals and their families to organisations that are able to assist with housing and health issues, to working with agencies that can help with debt and budget management. We’re also able to source much needed household goods and items like cookers, fridges and carpets, to ensure our beneficiaries retain their dignity and their independence.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Tim – I like to think that we can make a real difference to people’s lives. If people come to us for support, they will receive this directly and will not be passed from pillar to post. If we can’t resolve an issue, we will identify the best organisation to do so and support the person to get this assistance.
Kevin – I get a great deal of satisfaction not just from helping our clients, but also with assisting our caseworkers with the process of meeting identified client needs. It’s really very rewarding whenever I see the positive feedback we receive from those who we have helped, whoever and however this may be.
How can people support the charity?
We are always on the lookout for volunteer caseworkers and provide a range of flexible options, training and support to take on this key role. As a voluntary organisation, any donations received are hugely appreciated, the best way to do so is to head to our website and see how you can support the essential services we provide.