New Royal British Legion advice centre opens in Colchester

Royal British Legion staff (back row) Suzanne Calvert, Kate Green and Debbie Mayne joined by Will Ga

Royal British Legion staff (back row) Suzanne Calvert, Kate Green and Debbie Mayne joined by Will Gallagher and Ian Ewers-Larose at the opening of the legion's new advice centre on Colchester High Street. - Credit: Su Anderson

A new drop-in information centre from the Royal British Legion (RBL) has opened in Colchester High Street.

The one-stop-shop advice point will allow people to access the full range of support offered by the veteran’s charity, including help tackling mental health issues, disability and homelessness.

It is one 16 new centres being opened by the RBL across the country, which will in turn provide a focal point for further outreach services.

Kate Green, area manager for East Anglia, said: “In the past other than the Poppy Appeal no-one really knew what the RBL does.

“Now we are on the high street in people’s faces and inviting people to come in ask questions. We are in Colchester because it is a garrison town.

“We don’t just help veterans and serving soldiers, it is their families too, and we are happy for the public to come in and you never know what we might be able to do.

“We are making ourselves the first port of call, not the last.

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“The new centre is absolutely amazing.”

The opening was backed by two veterans who have been supported by the Royal British Legion.

Ian Ewers-Larose, 47, from Ipswich, served in the RAF for 12 years as a medic and left as a corporal. He receives respite care and support with a number of health conditions.

He said: “The RBL has been fantastic right from the word go, but they were the last people I went to and really they should have been the first.

“I would have liked to have seen something like this when I first contacted them, and this is great.”

Will Gallagher, 70, who served with the Royal Corps of Logistics as a corporal, added: “The RBL supported me with furniture when I moved into a flat as I had nothing, I had no idea they did that.

“The new centre is brilliant and in the right position.”

The centre, which is looking for volunteers, is open Monday-Friday 10am-4pm and also plans to open on major event days.