Armed forces charity puts smiles on faces with festive hampers

Hampers have been delivered in places ranging from Edinburgh and Devon to help support veterans and their families.

Danielle Desouza
Wednesday 22 December 2021 09:35
Fujitsu SSAFA Christmas box (SSAFA/PA)
Fujitsu SSAFA Christmas box (SSAFA/PA)

An armed forces charity has “put a smile on faces” with hampers created to help veterans and their families over the festive period.

Since the start of the pandemic, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has given more than £377,000 to support members of the community who are struggling financially.

However, the charity expects this number to increase over the winter period and has encouraged those who need help to reach out to them.

Support has been offered through various endeavours, including funding from the charity’s corporate partners, Boeing and Sodexo and the continuing tradition of delivering hampers and gifts in areas including Herefordshire Devon and the city of Edinburgh.

SSAFA Edinburgh volunteer Billy Walker (SSAFA/PA).

The SSAFA branch in Devon worked with Age UK Devon to create 110 hampers worth £12,000, which will be given to veterans and their families across the region.

In Edinburgh, 260 Christmas bags were delivered in the first week of December, which contained a total of 6,000 essential items and a few treats.

Walter Gallacher, the branch chairman of SSAFA Edinburgh and The Lothians, said: “Most of the items are bought by SSAFA friends and volunteers and delivered by Billy Walker and Gordon Latto.

“(They are) branch volunteers who plan and execute the delivery and who both give an enormous amount of personal time to the project.

“We do it to remain connected to beneficiaries who are in need and for the wider local community to know that we are always there to help should it ever be required.”

At SSAFA Herefordshire, volunteers Barbara and David Newton put together 10 hampers with Christmas puddings, chocolate and biscuits.

Barbara Newton (pictured on the right) (SSAFA/PA).

One recipient of a hamper, who wished to be referred to as Nicky, said: “Wow – you have put a smile on my face for the first time in nine months and the children will be absolutely thrilled!”

Nicky lost her husband nine months ago.

Another recipient thanked SSAFA for their “kindness” and “generosity”.

They added: “The cupboard is bare, and this will help to make a Christmas.”

Women and children at Gildea House were also supported by SSAFA, who hoped that their efforts would provide them with a memorable Christmas.

Fujitsu SSAFA Christmas box SSAFA/PA).

SSAFA’s Gildea House provides help and support to women and their children who are estranged, widowed, or have left the family home due to domestic violence.

As part of a partnership with Fujitsu, 30 present boxes are to be gifted to those staying there, as well as £460 towards their Christmas party.

Additionally, SSAFA’s Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme branch have distributed 33,690 meals to veterans and families since their food bank launched in 2020.

SSAFA Staffordshire food bank (SSAFA/PA).

SSAFA CEO Sir Andrew Gregory said: “A proportion of the Armed Forces community – especially veterans who have served this country and their families, will struggle this Christmas and further into the new year with their finances and other issues.

”Veterans are proud and reluctant to reach out for help; I would urge them not to suffer in silence as SSAFA is there for them and their families, whenever and wherever they need us.

“Just as they served this nation, SSAFA is here to serve them.”

To find out more about the help that SSAFA can offer, please follow this link: ssafa.org.uk/get-help/forcesline

Donations can be made at: ssafa.org.uk/donate

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